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Michael On My Mind


By Lu Sobredo

A light, cool breeze brushed past my right cheek. Odd that it made me smile. The fragrance from springtime-blooms from this day are still deftly seared in my memory. So is the hushed chatter which filled the open space where I stood. Regretfully, it was my first time at this place. And the last. Before this day, you and I shared a moment together about three years earlier. By happenstance we landed at the same street corner of “7th and P Streets” as we headed to work. I had not seen you for over five years. We caught up briefly. I believe you were headed east and I north, not far from the Capitol in Sacramento. I regret the many more moments we could have shared after that, but didn’t. Your lovely wife, whom I met for the first time, gathered some of your personal friends and work colleagues for this day. You and I had not worked together for 5 or 6 years, so I would have fallen in the category of friend, not boss or co-worker. I believe there were wind chimes in the backyard near where I stood. And I swore that was your witty spirit announcing you had joined us. After all, that gathering was to celebrate you, Michael.

Your life ended too abruptly in April 2004. But distinct stories from your life journey linger. How could I forget you telling me in 1994 that you had written a dozen screenplays? I had not met anyone who had written even one screenplay in their lifetime. But you had written twelve. Years thereafter, I did meet talented artists who wrote screenplays. I have even watched their plays on stage. I was awe-struck no less. I regret not knowing if you ever had the pleasure of seeing and hearing your words on stage?

Footsteps in the Sand in San Francisco Bay. Photo ©James Sobredo

What struck deep into my core was hearing your voice telling me that you were homeless for six years, many years earlier. I remember the voice to be somber, but bore no regrets. You said you lived in your pink Cadillac before you found full time work in the San Francisco Bay Area. You eventually found a place you called home, north of the Golden Gate Bridge. You would be surprised to know that my husband and I call that area our second home these days. I couldn’t have fathomed then what the pink car meant to you. It was more than a means of transportation or your place while homeless. It symbolized the very depth of your soul. It was not something you owned. It was love, the last remnant shared with a long time life partner who left this earth prematurely. So, to have discovered you found a new love years later was music to me.

I will forever remember how happy you were when I offered you a supervisory position at the California State Office I led then in my hometown of Stockton. A dramatic change of scenery from the Bay Area to a small town inland. Curiously, odd things happened whenever our paths crossed. Almost other-worldly. 

Looking back at the birth of my son who arrived a whole month earlier than scheduled, you and I were at a meeting with colleagues from another State Office in the same work building that afternoon. By the time I arrived home, my body went into what I could only describe as strange internal commotion. My husband had to drive me to the doctor whose office nurse practitioner assigned to me quickly ordered I go to the hospital. Three days after, hubby and I happily brought our baby home. Since I left the workplace unexpectedly, you had to bring me some papers to review or sign.  And you wanted permission to announce my son’s birth to all concerned in the organization at the very least. So you were the first work colleague who met our precious one. And as I held my baby boy in my arms to show him to you, he stunned us both as we watched that three-day old baby stretched his right arm and uttered “hi.” We were both delightfully freaked out as you extended your fingers to him as if to shake his hand. I was sure it was some reflex movement and random baby sound. Maybe not. As ten days later, a cousin and a friend looked down at this baby in his crib, and they both swore he said, “hello.” What? And just to set the record straight, that did not happen again until months later as baby boy started to babble and learn to speak. He was quite good at imitating sounds even at two months old. That baby has now graduated from college. 

Michael, may your spirit roam heaven with many more screenplays for performances by a crowd of angels. You will forever remain in my heart. 

Essay ©Lu Sobredo

Photo: My son carrying his dad's photo gear while walking on a cold breezy day at Baker's Beach in San Francisco, California.


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