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: Jennifer Burke (July 2007)

My tribute to my little brother and my best friend:

This letter is long overdue. I have wanted to write something about my brother for months, but the memories were just too painful. Now it brings me so much joy to think about his amazing spirit and to realize that it lives in me and everyone that he loved.

It is still hard to believe that he is gone. I still long to hear my phone ring at odd hours, which were usually 1 or 2 am, knowing that it would be a drunk call from Mike. Yes ladies, Michael would drunk dial his older sister. A lot.

Mike was such a little prince in our family. He was this adorable little guy with constant rosy red cheeks and a persistent grin. We were only two years apart and were each other's constant companion. We grew up in a very rural area. The closet neighbors were a half-mile away, so unless we wanted to play with the cows, we had no other choice. My older sisters usually paired off, so Mike and I being the youngest, were always together. We had so much fun together. We would tape ourselves singing songs, doing funny voices, or repeating lines from Scooby-Doo cartoons. We'd make dozens of paper airplanes and have fights with them. We choreographed tribute dances to the letters "W" and "V", with the inspiration coming from Sesame Street and the fact we could form these letters easily with our legs. We would play soccer or catch for hours in the front yard. We dressed our beloved family cat Max in Cabbage Patch doll clothes. There were so many silly things that two kids with acres of land and big imaginations could do. I just remember we got along so well. Now, don't get me wrong - we also fought like crazy. We would hit, kick, punch, poke, tease, and just generally annoy each other for sport. But we weren't grudge holders and would soon be plotting our next adventure.

Even in high school our lives were so intertwined. We participated in many of the same extracurricular activities, and even had the same friends. I found out years later that he got a little "too" close to two of my good friends! Michael always did have a way with the ladies.

Mike and I both honored the family tradition set forth by our uncles and older sisters and attended the University of Iowa. Some of my favorite memories and experiences with Michael come from our shared years in college. Michael plus alcohol always led to interesting experiences. For someone who was naturally uninhibited, a couple of cheap light beers put in him in an entirely different category.

Michael was not only my brother; he was also my favorite person. He was my confidant, my rock, my pick me up when I had a bad day, and my best friend. He had a love for life and fearlessness about him, which made me admire and want to protect him simultaneously.

I miss you terribly Michael, but find peace believing that everything is how it should be. I will try each day to live my life like you did - from a place of love, gratitude and joy.

- Jennifer Burke

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