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To Be Like Mike
For My friend - Becky Katz
Jamie wanted to be like Mike. His brother, who was older by five years was exactly who Jamie wanted to be. To Jamie, Mike got to do everything that was cool. Jamie even wished his name was Mike, it sounded so much more grown up than Jamie.
When Jamie was five, all he wanted was to sit in the car without a booster seat, like Mike. He wanted to eat a big kid’s meal at the fast food restaurant, like Mike. He wanted to ride skateboards, go swimming with his buddies, and sleep over at his friend’s houses, like Mike. One day, Jamie stood watching Mike pouring his own glass of milk in the kitchen, and told him, “I want to be you, Mike”. Mike tousled his hair, and laughed, “Don’t rush it kid, someday it will be your turn…”
When Jamie was eight, he wanted to ride a four wheeler, by himself, like Mike. He wanted to get braces on his teeth, like Mike. He wanted to go to the carnival with a group of his friends, get a cell phone, and talk to girls, like Mike. He wanted to be the star quarterback, get good grades, and have all the teachers love him, like Mike. As Mike was showing off his report card, Jamie looked at his with all the B’s and C’s, and sighed.. “I want to be you Mike… you get everything right”. Mike smiled, showing his braces, tousled his hair and said, “Don’t rush it kid, someday it will be your turn…”
When Jamie was eleven, he was certain he was just going to die waiting five more years to be like Mike. He wanted to walk around the neighborhood without an adult, like Mike. He wanted to be the one going to get his driver’s license, like Mike. He wanted to have a deeper voice, the perfect teeth and the perfect hair, like Mike. While he watched Mike putting a little gel in his hair, getting it just right for a night out with friends, Jamie smirked, his braces showing through and said, “I want to be you Mike, everything about you is perfect…” Mike chuckled, tousled his hair and replied, “Don’t rush it kid, someday it will be your turn…”
As Jamie approached his thirteenth birthday, he was about to burst with pride. Mike was going off to college! How cool would it be to live away from home?! Jamie couldn’t wait to go shopping for dorm stuff, such as a microwave, a small refrigerator, and his own hot plate, just like Mike. He wanted to come home on the weekends with bags of laundry, like Mike. He wanted to watch his parents swell with pride when they talked about him with their friends, like they did with Mike. Jamie was helping Mike fold and pack his laundry, getting ready to take the long drive back to college, and wistfully told him, “I want to be you Mike.. Dirty laundry and all”. Mike threw a clean shirt at his head, scuffed him along the side of the head, and tousled his hair as he replied, “Don’t rush it kid, someday it will be your turn..”
Jamie couldn’t believe that he was in his second year of college already. He had filled out nicely in the past seven years. Most people told him all the time that he was looking more and more like his brother Mike.
He had never really wanted to date, always felt like high school girls were way too immature and more concerned with being his friend to get close to Mike, than actually wanting to hang out with him.
Then he met Jenny.
He was so excited to introduce her to Mike, and his wife Melinda. Since Melinda was very pregnant with their first child, it was decided that their double date would be something simple, so dinner and a movie it was. Jamie could not be more proud of his brother. Mike was in his second year as an intern, and his peers and teachers glowingly described him as the best upcoming pediatric surgeon they had seen in a long time. The compassion he had, the drive, and the knowledge was something that you were just blessed with. Some things just couldn’t be taught. But Mike was like that, and always had been.
It was because of Mike that Jamie was pursuing his own way in the medical field. It was because of Mike that he had the confidence to ask Jenny out, and it was because of Mike that they were getting together tonight. He wanted Mike to be proud.
Dinner had been full of brotherly joking and lots of laughter. Melinda and Jenny had hit it off, just like sisters. Mike and Jamie led the short walk from the restaurant to the theatre.. Jenny and Melinda were talking earnestly and laughing behind them. Life certainly was very good.
Suddenly, the night was filled with bright flashes of light. It took a few moments for everyone to realize that someone was firing an automatic weapon into the crowds gathered on the street in front of the theatre. Who knows why, or the reasoning, all Jamie knew was that Mike went down in an instant. He looked back, Jenny was helping Melinda duck behind some cars, but he was frozen there… kneeling down, he took Mike’s hand and begged him to hang on. The next few minutes seemed like hours. He could see the people fearful and scrambling, he felt a sharp pain in his shoulder, and he heard the sirens, the police whistles, the screaming and the crying.
And then he only heard the silence.
Silence filled with the knowledge that Mike was leaving this world. Silence filled with clarity such as he had never known before. With tears streaming down his face, he screamed at Mike, “I want to be you Mike, PLEASE let me be you Mike, stay here, I will go...” A soft light seemed to appear, the wind stirred and tousled his hair, and he swore he heard; “Don’t rush it kid, someday it will be your turn…”
Five years seemed to go by in an instant. Jaime had just finished his residency, and was so happy to be celebrating with his parents, his wife, Jenny, Melinda and his precocious nephew, Mike Jr.
“Uncle Jamie, I want to be you…” Mikey said earnestly out of no where, as Jamie struggled to tie his nephew's shoe. Jamie laughed out loud, tousled his hair, wiped a tear from his eye, and said, “Don’t rush it kid, someday it will be your turn…”
If this story touches you in any way, good or bad, please feel free to comment below. Your comments inspire me, encourage me, or help me to see the error of my ways and are always welcomed!