Michael loved life and lived it to the fullest. He did more in his short 27 years than most do in a full lifetime. He will be missed terribly by all those whose lives he touched.

Memories of Michael

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From: Chris Wilder (August 2005)

I sit here day after day just thinking about how someone so much like me could suddenly be gone. No warnings, no last goodbye, no chance to tell his family and friends how much he loves them and how much they love him. In Mike's funeral dialogue, the priest said that things like this happen without warning. They are things that we will never understand, things that we shouldn't try to understand. I have to admit that I've tried and he was right. The reality of it all hits me at the most unexpected moments. Moments when I hear his high-pitched yell and laugh in my head, when I picture his rosey cheeks after having a beer, when I picture him laughing hysterically at the TV when I was trying to fall asleep in college. Mike has definitely changed my life.

Having lived with Mike for 4 years through college, I have just too many memories for me to pick out a favorite. It seemed as though no matter who you were, or who you didn't necessarily enjoy hanging around with, Mike was friends with EVERYONE. I never heard him say a bad word about anyone and that is the truth. I remember as if it were yesterday going back to the Burke family farm for our annual spring camping trip. Being the great host Mike was, he took the liberty of lighting off the majority of the fireworks without any regard as to where they would land. Sure enough, two minutes later the flames were landing on Koch's head in his sleeping bag. Ha ha! Or in Cancun on Spring Break 2000, meeting place for the most beautiful women colleges across America had to offer, and there was pasty Mike in his shorts with about 15 layers of sunblock on giving me the finger as I snapped pictures of him laying out. Ha ha!

After college, our lives were 200mph. We tried to talk about every 3 weeks or so just to touch base and ask how each other's families were doing. Mike was always interested and always had a genuine interest in everything that was going on. When I told Mike that I was getting married, Mike insisted that we get together because it "had been too long." He took the train all the way from downtown Chicago out to Round Lake (an hour and a half train ride) just to order a pizza with me and watch TV. For me, it was something I will never forget. We laughed about all the funny stories from college, we joked about all the stupid things that all of us had done, and we gave each other a hug on the way out the door and said "let's not wait this long next time." Soon after that night, Mike made the trip to my wedding despite the fact that he had just moved to New York the week before. It meant so much to me and so much to my wife; to Mike, there was never any question as to whether he'd be there or not. That was Mike.

My hope is that everyone who visits Mike's memorial site will remember what a truly genuine, loving and dedicated person Mike was. Life is too short....way, way too short. We owe it to Mike to live each and every day as if it were our last. We owe it to Mike to say a prayer every night before we go to bed thanking God for the chance at experiencing another day and for having our loved ones in our life. We owe it to Mike to never go to bed angry, to never awake bitter, and to never live without a cause. Mike didn't have that chance and for that we'll never understand why. We owe it to Mike to have faith in our purpose and to "never wait so long next time."

Chris Wilder

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