On August 28th 2007, the world lost an amazing soul, and heaven gained a new angel. Below is the eulogy I wrote to honor my late best friend, Michelle Dymalski.
In the days that followed her death, I was privileged enough to share these words at her funeral service. I can still feel the pain I felt standing in front of that crowd of few hundred people, completely vulnerable and exposed, locked knees and tear filled eyes, determined to share my love for one of the greatest people I’ve ever known. Death may have separated us a decade ago, but the love that binds us has never been severed. Some bonds just can’t be broken.
It’s hard to sum up Michelle into one letter, to define her with mere words, and express the love I have for her with this small token of affection. It’s hard to explain the friendship we shared that was so utterly unique, special and unlike any friendship I had, or ever will have again.
Michelle was my best friend. I met her my junior year of high school in Mr. Herbert’s choir class. There we shared a deep love of music, and the way that it moved us. She was the first person I had ever met that I had, what our friend Kristen would say, “friend lust” for. Just basically meant that she was someone I observed and was intrigued by because of the kind of person she was, and I wanted to be her friend. It was just something about her. Besides being gorgeous beyond words, she was sweet and tender hearted. She never judged others by their outer appearance, or by other shallow standards that most use, but by their heart. Strange didn’t exist in her world. Everyone was unique and wonderful. I guess she looked at others with God’s eyes; open and forgiving, full of promise and possibility. She had a glow and I was drawn to her like so many others. With just one conversation she became my best friend and my kindred spirit. Our humors were alike, our taste in music and fashion, but thankfully not boys. We were force to be reckoned with, and we relished in our youth. “Ying and Yang” she’d say, and we’d always argue who was which. She’s always referred to me as her “partner in crime.” I cannot tell you how many times we get ourselves into some kind of mess. Her approach was always light and innocent, while mine was aggressive and daring. If there was ever such a thing as friend soulmates, she was definitely mine; down to my every thought and word. Our memories span over six years and in those years she has left me with the best memories and inside jokes that will last a lifetime. She’d always say I was her sister and that even though her skin may not be brown, her heart was. I always got a kick out of her attempts to eat spicy food and speak Spanish. There were a few times her mix up on words got us into some crazy situations, but she found the key to happiness and it was laughter. Even in the midst of calamity and depression she could always laugh. Whether it was at a ditsy comment her or I made, or just laughing at the stupidity of some crazy person on the road, she found humor in everything. She lived her life with purpose and promise. She may have seemed tame to some, but she also had her wild streak. She loved to dance, be outdoors, and speed like a mad woman, pushing all limits. I laugh now thinking of all the times she should’ve been ticketed for going almost 65mph in a 45 mph speed zone. Her good looks and charm got her out of a few tickets, but that girl was lucky when it came to not getting caught.
We had our dorky moments too while making “music videos” in the car; which was basically us dancing like retards to some upbeat music blaring through her speakers, singing along in harmony, with the AC blowing high and the windows down low. I’m sure we scared many drivers numerous times while being in those moments, but in those instances no one else existed or mattered but us. It was our world, our time, our thing. One of the many things that we shared. We also cherished our quiet times with one another. She loved to take me with her when she drove to the lake past power road late at night, just to clear her head and think. We’d listen to Lifehouse or Coldplay, never saying a word, but finding true contentment in each others presence. We understood one another like that. Sometimes we needed to be let be, and just be, with one another.
Michelle was a very private person and I feel lucky to have had her open up her heart and thoughts to me. We always talked about how our friendship was intended to be since the beginning of time, how God in all his wisdom and mercy blessed us with one another. After all she did attend school with my (ex) husband, And was the connection to how I came to meet and fall in love with him. I will never forget that day when fate finally stepped in and came together. I was 17, and she was 18 and we were with two of our other girlfriends shopping at the mall when all of a sudden our destinies seemed to intertwine.
I can still hear her voice saying, “whatever you do, don’t look over there, some ghetto guys are checking you out.” And just as she had many times before, she quickly jumped into defensive mode, blocking their view of me. She glanced over once more only to realize that the “ghetto boy” was a former classmate of hers from junior high. The rest is history, but she was there for me from the beginning. She supported my feelings and thoughts even if she didn’t understand them all completely. She stood by my decision the night I decided to elope to Vegas. She was supposed to be our witness/maid of honor, but unfortunately her parents caught us before she walked out the front door. Out of fear that she might do the same, they wouldn’t let her go. But she did insist on packing me a bag of goodies. She said she put all the “necessities” in there. On the way to Vegas I checked the bag, inside the majority of the necessities consisted of make up, face wash, hair products, lotion, perfume and a blow dryer. I should’ve known, but I used it all and left up with the clothes on my back, some pajamas she had given me, along with her unconditional support. Her approval encouraged me to follow my heart, for that I will be forever grateful.
Michelle later got her title as maid of honor at my church wedding a month later, and recently I was blessed to hold that title in hers. I felt honored to stand by her side just as she had done for me all along.
Michelle, was the answer to my prayers so long ago as a child. I can’t tell you how many times I saw sisters at school or in a park and wished with all my heart to have a big sister of my own. I was so jealous of the bond that they shared, but being the oldest of six, I never got to have someone to imitate or look up to, that was until I met her. She was blood to me. She protected and defended me, and held my hand when I was scared to go it alone. She encouraged me to pursue my dreams and gave me the big sister advice that I always longed for. There’s so many memories I have of her speaking up for me and shielding me with her love. Her reaction in the mall that day is a testament to that. She frequently looked out for me and kept me out of harms way. She was and will always be the person I admired and envied so much.
I have many fond memories of her, but one of my favorites was the night before she ascended into Paradise. She spent it with her closest girlfriends, dancing and laughing the night away. Her last night on earth was spent feeling carefree and happy, the happiest I’d seen her since Ryan’s passing. She looked so beautiful and radiant that I actually told her she glowed. I think anyone who knew her was drawn to her beauty, but was enraptured by her sweet charm. She had no enemies and she delighted in her youth and blessed life. All night she kept telling me how much she loved me, as we held hands to protect each other, and to keep all the weirdos away. She said we had to go out again soon because she had so much fun and missed spending time with all our friends. I promised her we would, and we made plans for this past Saturday, after my sons birthday party. That would’ve been yesterday. After her wake I had to go through with the party I had scheduled for my son’s third birthday, not because I wanted to, but because she wouldn’t have had it any other way. It was hard to celebrate his life while mourning her loss. She promised me she would be there, and that she wouldn’t miss it for the world, but sadly that is the one promise she ever made to me, that she couldn’t keep.
I keep thinking of the lyrics to one of our favorite songs, “The scientist” by Coldplay, We played that song over and over for the longest time. The words seem so much more special to me, hearing them now in my mind. “Come up to meet you, tell you I’m sorry, you don’t know how lovely you are. I had to find you tell you I need you, tell you that I set you apart. Tell me your secrets, nurse me your questions, oh let’s go back to the start. Running in circles, coming in tales, heads on a science apart. Nobody said it was easy, oh it’s such a shame for us to part. Nobody said it was easy, no one ever said that it would be this hard. Please, take me back to the start.” Later in the song he sings, “tell me you love me, come back to haunt me,” and I just can’t seem to let her go. How those words are what my heart is saying to her now. How I wish that I could be selfish and have her back again, but I know this was her destiny and somehow God’s will.
In the past few months Michelle grew closer to Christ, her relationship and walk with him was the strongest it has ever been. Instead of blaming God for taking Ryan, she thanked him for the time she did share with him. She was strong and courageous as she faced the greatest challenge of her life. She called me frequently just to clear her thoughts. We spoke many times about death, her wishes and Ryan. She loved that man with every inch of her being. She missed him so much that I truly believe she died of a broken heart. She asked me questions and asked my opinion, whether he had suffered, what he thought and felt, what he experienced as he passed through heavens gates, and if he remembered her. I did my best to give her scripture and encourage her. I told her I wasn’t God and that I wasn’t sure, but I know that our God is a God of mercy and grace, and not a dictator trying to ruin our lives. I reminded her that each trial and tribulation is a test of our character to see where our loyalty lies. And she passed that test many a times with flying colors. She stood by her faith, and made it the foundation of her life. I admired her ability to see the good in all of it, instead of the evident or worst. I told her my views and opinions on heaven. I also had dreams of it years earlier, and didn’t want to wake up. I’m sure that is what she felt, sheer beauty and peace, that she couldn’t bare to stay here on earth any longer. I’m sure God allowed Ryan to meet her there at the golden gates, and lead her into paradise. I know God answered her prayers. She finally got to be reunited with her husband, but her gain has become my greatest loss. The last conversation we had on the subject was almost a week ago, she told me that while she was visiting family in Alabama, she drove to Florida to stay at a family member’s condo for a bit. She said she ventured out to do some shopping and heard her and Ryan song from the wedding. She asked me, “do you think he’s trying to give me a sign, like he’s trying to speak to me and tell me he’s OK?” I said, “Yes, because I believe God can allow those things, since he knows they will bring us peace and comfort. He doesn’t leave us with nothing, because the soul really does live on forever.” She got choked up and have jokingly said, “well whichever one of us gets to heaven first, has to give the other a sign that they are OK.” I laughed and I told her I’d haunt her, but we made that promise to each other that day. Little did I know that my best friend would be meeting her creator a week later. She never broke a promise to me before, so I’ll wait patiently for her to send me a message. I will keep my eyes and ears open, until God permits us that moment.
Michelle always used to say, “everything always happens for a reason” I think I will spend my entire life wondering what that reason is and why she’s no longer with us; but I will press on with the faith that in time, I will come to know that answer. She truly believed that with everything within her.
Nothing is by chance, nothing, and we are not meaningless creatures walking aimlessly on this earth. We are all born with a purpose and a plan, but sometimes, we fulfill them sooner than others. She left us so young, so classic and beautiful. She will be immortalized in our memories that way as we grow older. She will never age but remain the beautiful 23-year-old woman we saw her grow and mature into. I know she learned how precious and fragile life is, and she really came to appreciate every bit of it in these last few months. She lived a life anyone of us would be proud of, the kind of life we should strive to live ourselves. Because of that, Michelle has become an even greater source of inspiration for me to live a God-fearing life. I have someone waiting for me and expecting me, and I will not let her down. Saying that I must say something to her amazing parents..
Dear Dymalski’s, your daughter was everything she was, because of you. Because you loved her and supported her, because you always had her back no matter what, because you were her world and you instilled good morals and strong faith and her at such a young age. You taught her to put God first and live life to the fullest. Rich, you were her rock and her hero. You were everything she ever wanted in a man, and she knew no matter what, her daddy was there, whenever for whatever to take care of her if she needed it. You were a great father to her, and she admired you in every way possible. Never blame yourself, but take pride in knowing your daughter left earth knowing you loved her. Kathy, you were her original best friend. You shared a secret bond with her, and she cherished that more than anything. She wanted to be like you in every way. She looked up to you as a mom, and loved how you were able to handle being everything to everyone. You were her inspiration and she knew she was your baby girl. She never feared anything, because she had to you. You are a great mother. Never regret anything. I know she never did. As far as her brothers, Stevie, you were her buddy, her little brother and she loved you so much. I know she liked to boss you around, but that’s what big sisters are for; she wanted nothing but the best for you, so never settle for anything less. Brian, you were her cool big bro. She was proud of you and understood you even when you may not have understood yourself. She loved you and wanted you to find your happiness. I am proud to know good people like you, because in a world like ours, good people are really hard to come by. So thank you for treating me like your own daughter, accepting me and welcoming me into your home. You have touched my life and changed it forever.
I made numerous promises to her on her deathbed that I intend to fulfill and carry out for the rest of my life. Today, with everyone present, I’d like to speak them aloud for everyone to hear. So again, this is for you, Michelle.
I love you and I will commit to keeping her memory alive as long as I live, to include you in as many conversations as I can, and keep your memory fresh in everyone’s mind in the years to come. I will be there for Ryleigh and love her as if she were my own. I will support her and teach her how to pick the right color foundation and shoes, let her know that at target everything is always way cheaper, and not allow her to date utill she’s 30. I promise to help your mom explain all the important things in life, such as keeping your word and protecting your reputation as a lady. I solemnly swear to tell her how amazing you were. I will share with her all my memories of you, and be like a second mom to her when she needs a piece of advice from someone who thinks a lot like her mama. I will tell her how beautiful you were inside and out, and how you never let others pettiness bring your spirit down. I will look after your parents as if they were my own, and include them in as many important milestones in my life as possible. I will keep Brian in check, and make sure Stephen marries a nice girl. I will protect your memory and reputation and keep in touch with the friends you cared so much for. I will cry harder, laugh harder and love harder, because I’ve learned that we are never promised tomorrow. I will continue to make music videos in my car, and someday share that special moment with your own daughter. I will continue to love you eternally and to you never strip you of the title “best friend.” As long as I’m living, I will make you proud and look to the heavens for my strength. Thank you for your friendship, for the bond, for the sisterhood we shared. I hope you know that I loved you in a special way that was very unique and different from everyone else. A piece of my heart will always be yours and until we reunite again, that piece will always be missing. I will do you justice and protect everything you loved, the same exact way you always defended and protected me. I wish you eternal happiness and peace, although I know it’s already yours. Give my love to my brother and my grandfather especially, I know they must’ve been anxious to finally meet you. You’re finally with your soulmate again, in the presence of angels, and Our heavenly father. I will never say goodbye to you Michelle; just see you later with a smile, because I know I still have my purpose here on earth still to fulfill.
Again, I say thank you best friend for everything. I will miss you and think of you everyday for the rest of my life. I love you with all my heart and soul
Michelle, always and forever.