Reflections, Ramblings, and Tribute

I’ve always said that if I were to die young, I wouldn’t want people to be sad for me. I’d want people to celebrate the fact that I’ve had an adventurous, lucky, happy, and healthy life. I’d wouldn’t want everyone to be all dreary and dressed in black at a somber funeral. Maybe there’d be no services or funeral at all. I’d simply be cremated and then, for anyone who wanted, they could take a small baggie of my ashes and disperse them where we may have shared a meaningful moment together in the past, or take my ashes along a new adventure to some place I’d dreamt of going. Blow me into the wind off a mountain top, off the edge of a crag, into the desert breeze, along some singletrack….

This is so easy to say. But the reality is so different. This is cast into piercing light, now that I’m grappling with the loss of a friend. I’m trying so hard to think only about the positive things- memories shared of laughter, goofiness, excitement, adventure, and comraderie. Chats over coffee and pastries, Campbell’s soup and Saltines, pedalling shoulder to shoulder along Lake Washington, hunkered underneath an Alcove warming up for a race. He’s introduced me to cycling and racing, to learn if you can’t be pro, look it. He’s taught me to leave a little more on my sleeve than I’m comfortable with at work, because that’s how real connections are made.

I deeply regret that he may not know how much he’s impacted my life. Since we both moved away from Seattle, we’ve not seen each other and have merely been sharing a few words in a few emails or Christmas cards each year. We were scheming for him to visit for the Cyclocross Nationals in January, but work commitments took priority. I wouldn’t call our friendship deep by any measure, but he gave me a nudge that changed the course of my life. That is profound, and for it, I am immensely grateful.

I got a call from his Store Manager yesterday with the news, and I broke down over the phone. It was not for sadness. It was because I was so honored to have been on the short list to receive a call. It gave me hope that if others understood how much he impacted my life, maybe he did too. I’m just mad at myself for losing the opportunity to say so to him myself.

But don’t feel sorry for me. Oh, no, please don’t. What is truly horrific is that he leaves behind a wife, a 3 year old boy, and a 3 month old baby girl. They must be reeling from this tragedy. It must be utter devastation to them, and my heart aches for the tormenting feelings of loss and sorrow that lay ahead of them. There is nothing redeeming at all about the fact that he died while riding his bicycle, one of his life’s passions. His life was striken by a drug addict with a revoked license who swerved into him. Ugly, ugly.

I beseech you, whether you know him and his family or not, please donate to their GoFundMe campaign to help get them on their feet. It is https://de.gofund.me/2smmjghe&rcid=1b6da0b2d0c648be924358d32bd2cfd0.

Photos that don’t do all the good memories justice, but here they are anyway:

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XC skiing 2008

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A true dork. Disco action on a mt bike ride near Mt. Rainier.

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One of my faves. Pro Prater vs animal Chuck.

Don’t judge me for putting this on a blog. There were too many words, thoughts, and feelings for a FB post. And I wanted to have this as a sort of keepsake. A reminder of what a great person he will continue to be to me. For others to know it is because of him that I entered the cycling fold and fell in love with racing bikes. A reminder for me to not be so stubborn about sharing how I feel, but to all those reading this, know that I still will be and please forgive me for that. I needed this outlet as a way to tell others what I’m feeling, since it will be too difficult to talk about. To remember life is precious and fleeting.

 

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9 thoughts on “Reflections, Ramblings, and Tribute

  1. Thank you for your thoughts and support. Ellen was so grateful for the outpouring of love from the Seattle contingent. I wish more of you could have joined us in Cincinnati to celebrate Michael’s life. She felt you there in spirit though, and even talked of going to Seattle to replicate Michael’s infinity bike tattoo and to reunite with you.

    Many laughs and tears were shared. It seemed like at any moment he might stride into the room and greet us with his goofy grin, fancy shoes and hearty laugh. He has touched so many people.

  2. Thank you Naomi for sharing the legacy of Michael. Though I didn’t know him, being part of the REI family we share your grief and hope you feel the love and prayers being sent to you and Michael’s family……….

  3. Hey Naomi,
    Great words! Mike Prater was someone that I looked up to, a guy that could lead and have your back at the same time. I am so saddened by this loss, and the way it happened. I think he influenced is both in similar ways, and I am just so sad that he is gone.

  4. Such a lovely tribute, Naomi. I have been thinking about how wonderful it was to work with him and everything he had to share. I appreciated how he reached out to me when I moved to Virginia. He will be greatly missed.

  5. Thank you for your words. Raw and real and wise. I barely knew him but held him in high regard (and felt seen and respected by him in our brief interactions). My heart aches for the world having lost a good man too soon.

  6. I did not know Michael. But, the REI family is so strong and I deeply feel the loss of this wonderful man. It’s so heartbreaking that such a senseless accident happened and could have been easily avoided. My thoughts are with his family and friends who knew and loved him.

  7. What an articulate & loving tribute Naomi. I wish I was in a financial position to help his family, but they, and all who feel the pain of this loss, are in my prayers. Life is indeed fleeting & precious.

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