The last time I stood on this alter, I was an altar boy. My hair was a lot shorter but it was right around the time I met Mike.
As I stand here, today, and look out at all of you – I realize that Mike has done what only Mike can – once again, he has shown how Great of a man he was, demonstrated by the sheer numbers in attendance today. You are all here to celebrate his life and show your support for Mike’s family – and on behalf of the Coyles and the Insalacos – I first want to thank all of you for that – your love and support will help us all persevere through this time of tremendous grief and tragedy.
If I went around the room and asked each of you to say something about Mike, everyone would have their own positive quality or story to share which would provide a glimpse of insight into the person Mike was. I have been honored with the task of trying to give you more than just a glimpse.
I began by writing a list of all the things he was, and it quickly turned into a lengthy list which includes some of the most amazing accomplishments:
Mike was a son; Mike was a brother; Mike was a friend; Mike was a Division I Lacrosse player; Mike was an Uncle; Mike was a Husband; Mike was an Iron Man; Mike was a father; and Mike was a Photographer and Videographer whose passion to share and document his families’ life experiences rose to a whole new, very competitive and creative level; Mike was an 8-time Boston marathon runner.
In reviewing this list and in sharing it with you now, it is very apparent that the joke in our family, which was often said with sarcasm, Mike is the Greatest – is really a statement of truth. He had this annoying quality of being Great at everything he tried – whether it was running for 3 miles or for 3 hours, playing scrabble or Words with Friends, to dropping bowling balls on his stomach and hanging crayfish from his nipples, or fitting the entire rim of a pint glass in his mouth; Mike was a repeat Pumpkin Carver champion, a Survivor auditioner, a member of a local cycling team… Mike’s list of accomplishments and talents goes on and on.
It wasn’t until the other day that I actually googled the definition of the word Great, while thinking of Mike. It said: “a Quality of being great; having grandeur; superior in quality; influential”
Mark Twain once said “the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great”. Mike epitomized this. In light of all of his successes and accomplishments, he was able to inspire all of us to reach within ourselves to find our own greatness, and helped us along the way by believing it was possible. He always said, “Don’t wait until tomorrow, do it now”. Mike never tolerated mediocrity or self-doubt – so you knew better than to express it when he was around - He chastised you for saying “I can’t”, particularly if you’ve never tried. On top of this competitive drive and superman-like ability to push on, he had humility I will never have; he had greatness I strive for every day.
Mike’s greatest accomplishments are sitting right over there – Kristin, Georgia & Fiona – the beautiful family he created through his hard work, responsible nature, perseverance, studying, sacrifice and love.
Great men are like mountains, we do not appreciate their magnitude while we are still close to them; and all we do is notice it and appreciate it when we are not. Although Mike is no longer close to us, physically, he will forever be in our hearts and we will forever remember the impact he had on all of our lives.
Frederick Douglas has said “If there is no struggle, there is no progress” – and this is our struggle: saying goodbye to a great man and dealing with the sudden and senseless reality without him.
Now, whether or not you realize it, by being here today you have become a part of the pledge, which we all make to Mike, to Kristin, and to Georgia and Fiona – Don’t worry, I’m not going to make you raise your right hand and repeat after me – but here goes:
Goyles, you can count on us, our warmth and support, to help build you back up; We’re here for you through the highest and lowest of times, applauding success and easing the pain of defeat; sharing the magic of your dreams and working together to make them come true, from now until death do us part. We love you forever and although we can never fill the void that you are left with, we will spend every day trying.