I miss Mike McAuliffe.
I miss other people who have passed, especially those who died from Covid, but I especially miss Mike. And I’m sorry I didn’t start missing him earlier. Permit me to explain.
Most Rotarians knew Mike before his passing a year ago. He was a Rotarian of the highest order. Service above self was Mike’s personal credo.
I met Mike when we were both young and skinny. The year was 1988 and we were both members of Leadership Oklahoma City Class VII. Mike was so cool, knowledgeable, well connected. His winning smile and easy ability to carry a conversation made him a favorite in the class.
I became Mike’s friend that year. But all of us thought of ourselves as Mike’s friend. He made each of us feel that way.
Mike and I both later joined Rotary and we rang bells together one year for the Salvation Army. During our stint by the red kettle we talked about our plans for the future, about my career aspirations, about his desire to serve the City. We connected a little more deeply that day.
We also talked about spiritual matters and Mike told me he kept a Bible by his front door and stopped on his way out each morning to read a verse and contemplate on it. In one of my last conversations with Mike at Rotary I reminded him of that conversation and he smiled.
I’m sorry to say I was not a close friend of Mike’s. When he was alive and we didn’t see each other for a long time I can’t really say I “missed” him. But I’m missing him now that he’s passed away and I wish I had begun missing him earlier. I wish I had sought out time with him more deliberately.
Mike’s death a year ago reminds me it’s best to miss people before they’re gone. To send flowers to the living. To hit the pause button of our busy lives to connect—really connect—with people who warm our hearts with their smile.
Take the time to do that today. Call some acquaintance from your old Leadership OKC class. Or some former Rotarian you’ve not seen in a while. Meet them for coffee or a drink. Reconnect heart to heart and head to head.
Because it’s much better to begin missing our friends early instead of late.
Jim, so well said! Thanks for a great reminder, especially at this time of year.