My Friend Michelle

I met her, I believe, at my 2nd SBA conference in 2004. I was immediately comfortable around her. She was kind and funny. Effortlessly funny. And that accent. That stereotypical Chicago accent! She had it and I loved it. She was smart, she was funny, she was just lovely. She was a pillar in our SB community. A strong advocate for kids, but mostly, and understandably, for adults with Spina Bifida. For us to be seen, be listened to. For us to matter. A force for positive change. A strong, independent, disabled woman who moved hundreds of miles away from her family to live alone in Florida, when society thinks “the disabled” aren’t supposed to be able to do that.

As our friendship got stronger, I saw that she was also a fiercely loyal person. Fiercely loyal friend. I will use the word “protective,” she was so protective of our friendship.
I will always be grateful to her for that.โค๏ธ

I’ll remember all the inside jokes we had, some shared with our small group, some just between her and I. I’ll remember how pissed she’d get when Dateline would come on, and the victim’s name seemed to always be Michelle!! But boy did she love her murder shows anyway! Forensic Files, Snapped, American Monster. She watched them all. And we’d talk about specific episodes and things they did to hide bodies. She always thought she could do it better.๐Ÿ˜ณ

She once said, “It must be the Catholic thing” when we both learned just how many cousins we both had! I have a huge Mexican family, she has a huge Irish family. But we both grew up Catholic. So, she blamed that. ๐Ÿ˜Š

I’ll remember “Dorkin’ up the news feed” as we both tried to keep each other in good spirits when, in 2013, we were both going through some intense medical stuff and were in the hospital for a while. My wife even made some goodies and sent them to Michelle. That’s how “orgasmic brownies” became a thing. (She *really* liked the brownies I guess ๐Ÿคทโ€โ™‚๏ธ ๐Ÿ˜‚)

One of the last things I said to her when she talked about not feeling well, about a week before she so unexpectedly died, was a promise to keep dorkin’ up her feed and make her laugh.
She said she was counting on it.๐Ÿ’”

I’m going to miss all the times she’d get playfully angry at me for whatever made-up indiscretion she decided on that day and she’d quote Phoebe from Friends, “I swear to Lucifer, Arroyo, if you ever…..”

And she’d always end her rants with “*fluffs angel wings and walks away*”

******She was just so damn funny!******

I ain’t even mad that she hated pickles! We had plenty of vErY SeRiOUs dIsCuSsiOnS about whether or not pickles were awful. She called them “cucumber soaked in evil.”
She was wrong. Pickles are the best. Obviously. But only dill. Not sweet. Obviously.

And she, like me, hated inspiration porn.”
She’d always mock it, this idea that disabled people exist solely to inspire you or as a lesson for you to be grateful for your own life because “it could be worse. I could be ‘them.'” She’d post Facebook statuses like “Just got back from the grocery store. Like a hero. Ventured out, on my own, bought cat food. I’m so brave.” And we would all be in her comments like “You are the wind beneath my wings!”

SheIsTheReasonIStartedWritingInHashtags!!!! #JustTurningRandomSentencesIntoHashtags That’s how #DamnItFeelsGoodToBeAGangsta became a thing between us!

Man. We stole so many phrases from each other! So many expressions! She’ll be with me every day, “Thank baby Jeebuz.”

She took “Outside is stoopid. Nature is dumb” and “I rolled my eyes so hard I saw my shunt.” And I stole a response she gave one time when I asked how she was doing, and she replied, “Oh ya know. Chillin’. Being awesome.” I say that a lot when my wife texts through out the day. ๐Ÿ˜Š I also stole that thing where she’d joke that she had “the worst life” when some mild inconvenience happened. She was of course mocking #FirstWorldProblems Her can opener didn’t work? “Why do I have the worst life??” Her soap dispenser was empty? “Why me, why do bad things happen to good people??”
She knew she had it good. She knew life was good. She loved her family, she loved her friends. She loved her pets.

And she loved me. And I loved her.
More specifically “I love your Mexican gutz, Arroyo.”

I love your Irish gutz, Flaherty.”
And I did. And I do.
And I will miss her so much.

Thank you my friend. Thank you for damn near 20 years of love and friendship. “Pourin’ one out for the homies that ain’t here no more.”
I think I’ll go to “the YouTube” and watch “Jesus is a Friend of Mine” and have another good cry as I laugh through the tears.
“Zap!” ๐Ÿ’”๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ’”๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ’”๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ’”

Michelle Lynn Flaherty
April 3, 1971 – January 9, 2022

A picture from one of the many SB conferences we attended over the years. I have plenty more. Not ready to go through them yet. ๐Ÿ’” Maybe one day. Watch this space for more pictures. Maybe.

She was a huge Grateful Dead fan. And maybe one dayโ€ฆ.one day, I’ll be able to listen to her favorite Grateful Dead song again and not start bawling. One day.
Today is not that day. ๐Ÿ’”

“There is a road,
no simple highway
Between the dawn and the dark of night
And if you go, no one may follow
That path is for your steps alone”
~Grateful Dead “Ripple”

#ThereMayHaveBeenUglyCryingWhenIHeardItEarlier #OkThereWasUglyCrying #MakingHashtagsOutOfSentencesAgain #ItsHeartbreakingThatShesNotHereToReplyWithHerOwn

#BifLife #ProfessionalPatient #Spoonie #SpinaBifida #Myelomeningocele #ThisIsWhatSpinaBifidaLooksLike #Hydrocephalus #TooMuchBrainToContain #ChiariII #ChronicIllness #TheMidlifeBifLife #IDidntChooseTheBifLifeTheBifLifeChoseMe #BiffinAintEasy #DamnItFeelsGoodToBeAGangsta๐Ÿค˜ #love #friendship #death #loss

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1 Response to My Friend Michelle

  1. waxingturtle says:

    Damn. That was a great tribute. Thank you for sharing so many sides of her. I remember her amazing humor. She helped me accept that sometimes, you just gotta clean the shit off the floor.

    Liked by 1 person

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