Amazing with words

Shared by Kirstie O'Neill on July 29, 2012
I remember the last time I hung out with Michael. I was at Harkins, where he worked at the time, with a friend. We were there hanging out with a few other Harkins employees, they knew us pretty well around there. We were there right around the time his shift ended so when he got off, he hung out for a bit. My friend was being rather rude to me at the time and I didn't feel like being around her, and Michael saw that. Michael came to the rescue and asked me if I could give him a ride home. I was more than happy to do that for him, so we went along on our way. I remember on the way home, we talked about the situation that had just occurred and then he started talking about New York. On the outside I was showing complete excitement for him, but on the inside I was so bumbed that I wouldn't have a friend like him around. To this day, I still go on MySpace and read old messages from him. He always listened, and gave me his best advice, which always worked. I try to live with no regrets, but I do have one. Michael invited me to to go to the movies with him one time. We never got around to going. I really wish we had gone. I miss Michael quite a lot, and I will never forget him, ever.

Not on my Own Strength

Shared by Zoe Simmons on December 29, 2011

I tingle all over every time I tell this story so I'll share it:
Three days after Michael died, we attended a candlelight vigil for him at the high school.  Several of us shared thoughts about what Michael meant to us.  Afterward, Michael's drama teacher came up to me and told me how strong I was.  I knew that I was not running on my own strength that week, and that I needed to give God the credit.  As I was thinking through what I would be saying at his upcoming memorial service one morning, the distinct thought "Psalm 91" popped into my head.  I read it and it says "He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.  I will say of the Lord, "He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust."  After reading this I was thinking, "Yes, that speaks of God giving me strength, but maybe I can find some scriptures that say it more directly.  Maybe, "The Lord is my Strength and my Song," or some others that I found.  When we got together at church the next day to discuss what we would do at Michael's service, I read the verses I had looked up on my own, without much response from the others.  Then, as I started reading Psalm 91 aloud, we all shared a very powerful moment.  We all felt that the Holy Spirit was distinctly confirming the verse He had given us!  I believe with all my heart, soul, and strength that God did indeed carry me through that week, and continues to do so when needed.

Shared by Zoe Simmons on August 25, 2011

Day 3 in NY
One year ago today, August 25th, was our last day on this earth together. The last day to see your beautiful sweet smile, the last hug. The next hug will be glorious!!! I can't wait to see your smile again! ♥

Day 2 in NY

Shared by Zoe Simmons on August 24, 2011

One year ago today, August 24th, we woke up in New York City and went to a deli down the street from the hotel for breakfast. At the counter, I asked which omelet they recommended and at this point I was so obviously a tourist. They wanted to know what I wanted and be quick about it! Michael was so patient with me!!!

After breakfast we went on our first subway ride, then went to check out Michael's school, the NY Conservatory for Dramatic Arts. He was SO CHARGED UP and EXCITED!!! Then we wandered around the neighborhood of the school and the garment district. We went into the Old Navy store to see if they would say, "Welcome to Old Navy," (ha ha), but I guess in NY there are so many people coming and going that they would have to say it constantly so they just skip it.

We also went into the Hershey store and Michael let me put a Hershey hat on him and take pictures, and then into the Toys R Us and M & M stores for more pictures.

Later that day, we went to a Broadway show, and Michael kindly sat behind the person with a hat so that I could have the better seat because I'm shorter.

After we went to see my cousin Jeremy's band play in the Bronx and had to board the subway after midnight to return to our hotel (a little scary in the Bronx).

I only took a few things to wear, in one small suitcase so Michael could use the big ones for his move. I only had a few pairs of white capris to wear because that was what we were wearing in AZ. I stood out like a sore thumb in the rainy NY weather and wished I had taken jeans. Michael was nice about that too.

memories, memories...

Day 1 in NY

Shared by Zoe Simmons on August 24, 2011

One year ago today, August 23rd, you were so excited. It was the day I took you to New York. Before we left, we took our last family photo on the front porch. We didn't know when the next time we would be together would be.
At the airport, I treated you to a strawberry smoothie at Starbucks (before we went through security - oops!), so we had to hurry and drink them fast.
We had 2 flights. The first flight we were separated, but the on the second we got seats together. You sat on my right. You shared your songs with me.
We got to NY around midnight, and after we got to our hotel (The Manhattan at Times Square), you wanted to go and see Times Square, so off we went; it was around 1:00 a.m. by then. Everything was all lit up, and I did the tourist thing and took pictures of you. I'm so glad to have those pictures now! I'm thinking of you. I love you and miss you!!!

Memories of Michael

Shared by Kim Riley on July 31, 2011

 Zoe and Kevin,

I can’t actually remember when Michael entered our lives. I do know we met him through Sammy. Sean and Sammy were in 2nd grade together, so it must have been close to then.
Sean and Michael started hanging around and going to church together. Church camp, teen group at church.
I remember hearing a noise out in the back yard and looking out. The boys, including Spencer Yand, had shovels and were digging a huge hole. I asked them why they doing that and they just looked at me like I was nuts. “Because we can”. I just told them not to make a big mess. Well, it wasn’t but about 10 minutes later and I heard them laughing like loons. They were taking mud and making balls and throwing it at the wall. That was fine; it could be cleaned up quite easily. BUT they hit the house next door. I went out and told them they would be going over and cleaning the house. At that point Spencer remember he HAD to be home (no surprise there) and went through the house, get mud everywhere. I was not happy and grabbed rags and a bucket and told Sean and Michael they were going to go clean up the house next door. No argument from them. They did it. They came back, knowing I was really ticked off. I looked out the window and they both had a handful of clay-mud. They put it together and called me outside. With their puppy-dog eyes, they both looked at me and “I’m sorry” came out their mouths. Then it was “look what we made you”. They called it Mount Chandler. (Later on, much later on, I found out that they had been kicked out of your backyard because they were digging. Of course, they didn’t tell me.)
One time after church I took them to pick out music. They wanted their own music, not Mom and Dad musice. We went to Barne’s and Noble and they were kind of lost in there. I ended up asking the clerk for help because neither one of them wanted to ask. They got pointed in the direction of Christian rock music. Well, neither liked POD. Michael chose Relient K and Sean chose Switchfoot. For the next two years I had both of those cds in our truck and then the car.
Zoe took Sean to school in the morning and I picked them up after school. Michael usually got out to the car first. He sometimes (about 3 times a week) would look at the sky and say “H’mmm, what’s the forecast for today?” I knew what that meant. We had to listen to “Sunny with a High of 75”. It became the norm.
Also our “arguments” became the norm. Not real arguments, more like debates. If I got fed up, I would tell Michael, Prove it. He’d look at me and start laughing. (I called him a little owl when he was younger because he was always asking questions. And he kind of looked like one with his glasses.)
One day Michael came to the car and everything he said came out in a squeak! He tried so hard not to talk, but he failed. We all got to laughing and he did too. Then he sang…omgosh, it was soooo funny!!
When the boys hit high school they went their separate ways, but still kept in touch as much as possible. Because I was up a the school quite a bit with Sean’s medical problems, I sometimes saw Michael. It usually happened at lunch and I would see him and David eating. I always got a “hi” and a smile. If I ran into him walking, I got a hug.
I remember the awards ceremony for scholarships. He looked so grown-up and I just couldn’t help but wonder where the time had gone!
One of the last times I saw Michael, he came over to show off his car. He and Sean took off for a ride. It didn’t last very long and Sean came in the house cracking up. Seems it died by Pima Park and they had to get out and push it. 
Michael was funny, inquisitive, a pain sometimes, loving, argumentative and a friend when Sean needed one.I love Michael and miss him, but know I will see him again some day.
With love,

Be a Mike.

Shared by Grace Fawcett on December 27, 2010

I remember i talked to Mike back in May and asked him if he still worked at Harkins (because a friend of mine just started there). She kept forgetting to put ice in the drinks, and he said "lol! that's a weird thing to forget. I'll make sure and make fun of her for it:)". Then a few months later I see her and she comes up to me and says "Hey, i met that kid Mike you were talking about! He's really nice, but he keeps making fun of me for not putting ice in the customer's drinks. Who told him that?!" to which i reply "I have no idea!"

She was the one of the only people at my school that knew him. And at his funeral i was surprised to see another girl from my school there (who also worked with him). It still pains me to even go by that theatre, because in my mind i still he him standing there behind the counter with the biggest smile on his face - despite the fact that it was 10 pm and everyone else seemed irritated that they had to work so late. For some reason i still expect to see his face come up in the previews for some insanely awesome new movie coming out. It is so strange, how the people we come in contact with on a given day can affect our lives. And even though i wasn't all that close to Mike, just his presence in my routine of life (and my movie going experience) was enough to impact me in a way i could only imagine. I find that in so many ways, he is my inspiration. And though i miss him, like we all do, I have discovered that one of the best things to do is to finish what he started. Of all people in the world to look up to as a person who lived like Jesus lived, and loved like he loved.. Mike is by far one of the few, but very best. Don't just remember his philosophy of life, don't just remember the things he said or the way he acted or his heart.. but LIVE IT OUT. We all know what Mike meant to us. We all remember what kind of person he was. We all remember how he cared about people, took the time to get to know them, and really reached out to people who were lost. And most of our stories with him begin with him reaching out to us. So don't let it stop with his death. Because if you do, then Mike's memory will be just that..... a memory. In the past, and soon forgotten. Don't let his love, compassion, gentleness, kindness, and passion die with him. So let his memory be living and active in your heart. Reach out to people just like he reached out to you. Love people like he loved you. He is an example to us of what it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ. He is an example to us of what it means to be Jesus to others. So be a Mike to someone everyday, and the memory of him in your heart will never fade or dull.  God knows we sure could use a few more Mikes in the world.

Shared by Zoe Simmons on December 3, 2010


 I was lying in bed and the phrase "the race is not to the swift" popped into my head. I was thinking what does that have to do with anything? I googled it and found this:

"WHATEVER YOUR HAND FINDS TO DO, DO IT WITH YOUR MIGHT; for there is no work or device or knowledge or wisdom in the grave where you are going.

I returned and saw under the sun that--
The race is not to the swift,
Nor the battle to the strong,
Nor bread to the wise,
Nor riches to men of understanding,
Nor favor to men of skill;
But time and chance happen to them all.
For man also does not know his time:
Like fish taken in a cruel net,
Like birds caught in a snare,
So the sons of men are snared in an evil time,
When it falls suddenly upon them.
Ecclesiastes 9:10-12


Our Thanksgiving Blessing

Shared by A Family Friend on November 26, 2010

This is from Zoe, Michael's mom:

I was lying in bed around 5:00 this morning just waking up.  I had my hand on my stomach where I've been holding the pain since Michael passed away.  Even though I was feeling down, the song "Into Marvelous Light I'm Running" was going through my head.  Elizabeth came into my room crying so much that she could hardly speak.  She said that she had a dream about Jesus.  I asked her about the dream and she said that Jesus was talking to her in our back yard.  He told her that we wouldn't have to be sad that Michael passed away and that we could rejoice in Him because we would be able to join Michael when we pass away.  I asked her what He looked like and she said he was just dazzling with light and that he looked kind and forgiving.  I asked what His voice sounded like and she said His voice was forgiving, loving, wonderful, and pure.  We got down on our knees to thank Him and asked that she will always remember this.  Here is the link to the song:

There are so many memories...

Shared by Brittany Brown on November 17, 2010

I have so many memories of the times spent with Michael. Everyone was truely a cherished memory. I remember the first time I met Michael, I remember the last time I saw him. I remember the last time i spoke with you, I remember the last time I messaged you. I remember our random rain storm runs and all the manure pile fun. I remember the building of Kenex and 64 Mario Party. I remember all the dinners and all the games played at the table. I remember how Sara and I would make jokes with him, and from time to time sisterly torture him. I remember all the rides to school, the practicing of lines and spelling too. I remember how we let our imaginations go. I remember the fun we had imaging our own little worlds on a wire spool. I remember the trampoline from summers ago. I never thought this day would come so soon. I never thought that when we first met that him that he would grow in my heart like little brothers do. Michael is my best friends brother, and little did I know the more she became my sister, the love i have for you would still grow. Your family became like family to me, the times we spent together always became some of my best memories. You became a brother to me and have a special place in my heart. The deep talks we had about mysteries and dream. It's funny and sad to think that I'll never see you again in this world, but i know that next to all of us you stand. May the heavens greet you nicely may you be accepted into the lords arms. Because one day my little brother we will all stand together again linked by our farearms.

As time goes on and I become stronger I will add more detailed memories. He was apart of the greatest time of my life and I miss him dearly!

My Memory

Shared by Grace Fawcett on November 12, 2010

I don't exactly know where to start. I guess I'll go with the first time I ever talked to Michael.

I don't remember the first thing Mike ever said to me. But I do remember one of the first things I ever said to him. We were at church youth group and I walked over to him and said, "You know, you kinda look like Nick Jonas." I guess I was not the only one who thought so, because that then became the joke with our friends.

Mike was also in my EZ Company group at church, and he was involved in the worship band as well. I loved to watch him sing - and to watch God shine through him when he did. He not only had an amazing voice, but an amazing heart for God.

I remember seeing him the video that our Junior girls and guys made about speed dating - he gave us a little taste of his acting skills. And he was also a trend setter! in another video where he did the lawn mower dance with John Cherne on a mission trip in Kentucky. I know we all looked up to him. I know I sure did - he taught me what it really means to be a follower of Christ, because HE knew what that meant.

I remember I use to see him everytime I went to the theatre and he never failed to smile and say "hey!". Once I went with  friend and we stopped to talked to hm and I said, "Hey Mike, why you look so down?" and he looked at me and said, "You know, I'm just frustrated. I have to work and all my friends got together to see a movie at this theatre, and they couldn't wait until I got off work so i could go too." And I said "You know Mike, I don't always know what to say, and i don't always say the right thing, but if i know only one thing, it's this: One day they'll all be getting together to go see YOU on that big screen."

And i fully expected that to happen. And I know everyone who knew him did too. Mike had gotten into an incredible school that only accepts 200 students a year - less that 5% of the students who audition. He was living his dream. Mike was a lot of things. He was kind, respectful, genuine, talented, courageous, funny, dedicated, compassionate. It is true he was an amazing singer and an incredible actor. He had the drive and the courage to pursue his dream despite the odds against him - something most of us only dream of doing. He was out there making it happen. He lived life to the fullest, and took nothing for granted.

He truly was a remarkable person. He did great things in his life. And given more time, he would have done even greater. Everyone remembers Michael for a different reason, but I believe that we can all agree that the one thing he will be forever rememberd for, is his heart. For God, for his family, for his friends, and for the least.

We love you Mike. We are so proud of you, and I know God is too. I have no doubt that when he saw you he said "Well done."  I will never forget you, or the huge impact you had on my life just by being you. I never got to say this to you, but thank you. I am truly grateful that i got to be a part of your life. So thank you for being a part of mine.

Heart for Music

Shared by Robert And Patricia Yoo on November 11, 2010


I remember when Michael decided to form a musical band as a kid. When he mentioned it to us, we could see that he had a spirit of leadership. He was recruting kids for his band and invited our son Jonathan to join in.  Jonathan was not able to join but thought that it would be so cool to start something like that. We were very glad that Michael was an example of leadership to others.  A good friend, excellente son, brother and student. Michael will be blessed for his Christian example to others.

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