Losing Michael

by Lorraine, NeoVox Project Director, November 4, 2010

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It's not often that I write for NeoVox. I'm its project director, not a college student, not a writer. My presence on these pages is hidden.

But something has brought me out into the open.

On Halloween weekend, SUNY Cortland lost one of its bright lights, a young man named Michael Freitas. He was 22.

Michael died doing things he loved: dancing with his fiancee at a concert. An undetected heart ailment claimed him before help could arrive.

Michael was a student in my class, PWR 315, Creative Non-Fiction. Though he was a math major, due to graduate in May with a math degree, Michael had discovered that he loved writing. And he had a natural talent for it. The first short paper he wrote for me was funny and insightful and natural. Though he had not previously taken creative writing classes, his talent--and his potential--were apparent.

On the Friday before Halloween weekend, it was one of those rare Autumn days--cerulean skies, a warm sun, and the kind of crisp breeze that reminds you that winter is approaching. But, in honor of the warmth, the class went outside to talk about the recent visit of Julia Scheeres, and to start a writing exercise.

Michael had brought his lovely fiancee, Kellyanne, to the Scheeres talk, and he and I talked about what they had both thought. Then, we got into a long discussion about writing, about how Michael had discovered that he really liked expressing his creativity through words, how he planned to take my course again so that he could continue the journey he was on.

And then we lost him.

The members of my class are devastated. I am devastated.

There is no making sense of a universe that decides to take a 22-year old man away from the people who loved him. We were also robbed of Michael's potential, because that Friday, I told him that he had a writing career ahead of him if he wanted to pursue it, and I would help him in whatever way I could.

Now, we are deprived of what Michael could have given to all of us through his gift.

My hope is that Michael left behind a lot of wonderful memories for his family and friends, that years from now, they'll tell stories about Michael Freitas, and his love for life and the joy he brought other people will shine through in those tales.

For now, though, those of us who got to know him for just a brief amount of time are trying to deal with his loss.

We will miss him.

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