Hi, I'm Karen.
I’m the mother of Mike’s daughters. I’m also Mike’s longtime remote co-parent of 16 years. And author of the articles that appear in this site.
You might ask yourself, “What? Why does Mike’s ex-wife even care about Mike??”
Oh, I care. Deeply.
Mike was a very important person to my entire family, and me. Especially to our two daughters. On September 7, 2014, I lost one of the most important things/ideas/persons in my entire world: the father of my daughters. The pain I have endured watching his girls quietly suffer from the aftermath of his death, watching them go forward without the man whom to they were deeply connected, has been excruciating. There is not much I wouldn’t do for my daughters, I love and respect them that much. And, I know there’s not much Mike would not have done for them either. I always used to tell my friends and family that I could count on Mike to be there for them.
I was wrong.
He’s not there for them now, because he’s not here. Right when they were transitioning from teens to young adults, from high school to college. I didn’t anticipate that. Until the last month of his life, I had thought everything in his life was going relatively great for him…
…New marriage, newly fixed-up house and back yard, new indoor and outdoor furniture, upcoming new retirement, old/new trice weekly racquetball playing with two Toms, new “best-shape-I’ve-been-in-for-years,” new pounds shed “only 20 more to go,” and a new, first-ever commitment to his youngest daughter to quit drinking for good.
It was Mike’s zest for relaxing with a few cold beers or wine in the evenings and weekends that made him more and more vulnerable over time. And this vulnerability did him in, cut his wondrous life short.
Looking back on the last year of Mike’s life, I saw so many signs that gave me cause for concern. One of those signs that I became aware of in August 2014 intensified my concern so much, I discussed it with my husband. And I then asked 18-year-old Hanna (who had been literally repeatedly stating how badly she wanted to go visit her dad) to travel to Poulsbo to check on her dad in person ASAP. I told her I was concerned that something was very wrong. She was working full time at Forever 21 at Northgate Seattle and was to go see him on the weekend of September 14, 2014. He died on September 7, 2014. She was too late.
At the time when I’d asked Hanna to check in on her dad, even though my instincts were on high alert, I dismissed my concerns for the most part. I remember feeling somewhat joyful believing that Mike had found love AND had finally committed to his daughter that he would get sober.
Over the years, Mike and I had talked about the “rocking chair” effect at length. “Mike, when you are old and sitting in your rocking chair, looking at mortality and your life, what will you regret doing or not doing more of?” Answer: he would regret not quitting drinking. We both badly wanted his daughters to know him as a man who was sober ALL the time. So, believing that Mike was going to follow through on his commitment to Hanna, I warmly envisioned what it would be like for both of us to attend in sobriety the future weddings of our daughters, the future births of our grandchildren, and the future joint holiday gatherings of both our families.
One of my biggest sources of pain has been knowing what my daughters have lost with the untimely death of their father. Another huge source of pain has been knowing what Mike lost, knowing he will never get to retire, never get to dip into his nicely-built retirement account he’d contributed to with such tenacity for 40+ years.
Since Mike died, I’ve had to come to terms that I wasn’t there to protect him. Oh, I was always looking out for Mike during the 26 years I knew him, doing little and big things for him and them. When we were married, after we were married. You probably didn’t hear him mention this, probably because he didn’t understand or know.
To cope with Mike’s death, I took design and web development classes to give me a way to express my thoughts. It didn’t matter what my teachers’ assignments were, I always ended up creating things like a bunch of hands reaching out to help him. Every single design and website assignment over a full year featured something to do with Mike, his daughters and his death. So, here I am creating a new website about Mike …to give myself an outlet, but, more importantly, to do something for our daughters that honors their father’s life.
Why I write and advocate for justice for Mike.
1. I advocate for justice for truth.
Mike’s relationship with his daughters was falsely portrayed regularly for over a year, starting within minutes after his death. People and the police were told they never came around and “he didn’t have a relationship with his daughters” and so they didn’t need a phone call. These comments about the father/daughter relationship are blatantly false. I was bewildered when I heard this and read the comments, myself. And I’ve sought to understand why anyone would say such things about two young girls, especially right after their father’s death.
If our daughters can’t have their dad in life, I want to, at least, preserve/correct the memory of their father/daughter relationship that they can hold onto. I wish for the world to know how much Mike meant to his daughters and how much they meant to him. I wish for this because it’s Mike’s wish. Mike was well known for talking a lot about his daughters and his devotion to them. The rightful correct memory of Mike’s father/daughter relationship is a big part of his legacy.
2. I advocate for healthy living and living free of alcohol and drugs.
It is the wish of Mike’s daughters that Mike’s death-by-drowning mean something and give back to the community in some way. And so, we want to share how drinking alcohol eventually made him vulnerable to making poor decisions, and it effected his life in the cruelest of ways. We believe with all our hearts that Mike, in angel form, is cheering us along to share his experience to help and inspire others to live alcohol and drug free. One of Mike’s greatest contributions in life was giving to others in need and cheering them on.
His cheering for others in need continues, even in spirit.
Please check back for more about this soon. We are ready now.