Im culling through a wedding tonight, Im a little late getting to it. At first Bee was going to do it but when I realized it was a wedding that Mike had helped Beebe with I decided maybe I should do it.

Going through the images, these are not perfect. Some of them are so blurry and the color so wrong, but it shows two brothers together and so we love them.

Our home hasn’t been the same lately. This cloud hangs over us, not really a constant sadness, but more a constant knowing that something is missing. Mike didn’t spend a tremendous amount of time at our house so its not a day to day presence we miss but more the fact of the permanence of death. There was a permanence to their relationship, the same with Ashley. They are siblings and have always been there for each other, in one way or another. They thought they would grow old together, raise their kids together, continue to laugh and cry together. I think we all grow knowing some day we will lose our parents because of the age and the way time takes people, but you never think you are going to lose a sibling.

I know there are random times in the day when Bee wants to pick up the phone and call his brother and he goes to the phone and stands there with it in hand and then puts it down realize there is no one to call. I pretend not to notice this error, its his moment.

We have not disconnected Mikes phone yet. Not for any particular reason but just because there has been so much going on. Sometimes Mike still gets texts from friends.

“I miss you”
“RIP Pretty”

and the one that I cant read without crying:

“Come meet me out, I have so much to tell you…”

There are reminders of Mike everywhere.

Some of you will laugh, others might think its weird, but some of you will totally get it when I say flatulence (of all things) is one of those reminders.

Ethan grabs the Wii remote and yells “weeee” while pretending to bowl. He loved wii bowling with Mike. Because of Mike and him letting Ethan playing (or throw) the remotes, i dont think there is a working wii remote in the house. But its ok, no one really played but Mike and Ethan anyway.

It’s funny how some people think that things should be better after only a few weeks. Other people can be so insensitive, it surprises us. Others are so supportive and loving it also surprises us. So many good and bad surprises.

The last 3 weeks have really gone by so quickly.

I had the best birthday party EVER. Seriously, my husband threw me a mini wedding for my 30th birthday. I had a reception venue, a live band (Bucktown Allstars WOW), a huge Louie Vuitton purse cake, and the best of all, so many of my wonderful friends.

I was really surprised and really felt so dumb. Even after everyone yelled surprised I continued to be confused. Wait, are we not shooting a wedding? I even drove my own car so I could leave early and go pick up Ethan who I had not seen all weekend because of the 5 weddings we had already photographed.

As silly as I felt, I had a good time. I don’t like being the center of attention, but it was awesome. When we left everyone that night, we thanked everyone, hugged everyone and kissed everyone goodbye. That included Mike. We didn’t know then that we would really be kissing him goodbye forever.

“Ethan, kiss uncle Mike bye bye”

It was about 7am on my actual birthday that someone was banging on the door and ringing the doorbell over and over again. Anyone who knows Beebe and I… or well just knows me, we are NOT out of bed that early. Heck I dont get out of bed some days until 10am. We seriously thought it was one of those people who delivers subpoenas because it seems they come super early and practically break down your down. We laid in bed and ignored it. It stopped for a second and then it started again and then we heard Pac yelling for Beebe. Then my cell phone started to ring. My mother in law was calling us and when I answered she was hysterical saying “Michael is dead” over and over. It was the beginning of this surreal new life without Mike.

I just remember saying “oh my god, oh my god, what do you mean, oh my god, we’ll be right over, yes, we are coming right now” and Beebe is asking me what is wrong as he puts on jeans to go answer the door. I can’t even remember how I said it to him after hanging up with his mom. Was I calm? Did I sit back on the bed? Did I blurt it out? Neither of us can remember what I said. We just remember throwing Ethan, still in PJ’s in his car seat and heading directly to Bee’s parents house. Why can I remember what I was saying on the phone to Bee’s mom but can’t remember what I said to Bee? But its still so clear in my head exactly what Bee’s mom was saying, how she was saying it and how I responded. I guess some things will remain a blur.

I remember calling Ashley and asking her what was going on. She was calm, in denial, registering Kayleigh for summer camp at St. Christopher’s. She said the state troopers came and told them Mike had been walking on I10 and was hit by a truck and killed. She’d be home as soon as she was done at Kayleighs school. She was so oddly calm, keeping it together for her daughter. Beebe was oddly calm as well. We all had things to do, there wasn’t time for being sad or thinking about what happened.

When Beebe got through to the coroners office he had to ID Mike. We did not need to come in person he said, they just wanted us to describe some of Mike’s tattoos.

“He has a dragon on his left arm, He had a dragon and a phoenix on his back, he just got a new tattoo of a M to cover…..”
“Thats enough, its him”

And just like that we knew for certain.

Bee went inside the house to tell his parents. I stayed outside. I really felt like I couldn’t breath. How do you ID someone by tattoo? How do you never see a picture or a face or anything. To just be told, its him and have it be so concrete and certain. I called Chad because Dayna didn’t answer. He knew right away from my voice that something was very wrong and I just told him there’s been an accident and Michael died. He was shocked and it was then Dayna finally was calling me back. By the time I switched over to her I could barely speak.

We made several other calls to close friends and asked that they tell our other close friends for us but for the most part not to spread the word too much. We didn’t want to get bombarded with calls. I think we were still in denial and each time we talked about it, it became more real.

We picked up Bee’s parents to go collect Mike’s belongings from the coroners office. One of our future brides works there, but Bee didn’t see her. He did see the mother of a bride whose wedding we already photographed. She was so sorry.

The only piece of jewelry recovered was a mignon faget cross necklace that is actually Beebe’s. It was in a manila envelope with his broken glasses, passport, wallet and car key. His mom a few months ago bought Bee a cross necklace from Tiffany’s so he stopped wearing the mignon faget one and instead had it hanging from his rear view mirror. When he and Mike were working a wedding together Mike asked if he could wear it. Bee said sure. Mike was welcome to have it, we never thought we would get it back like this.

As word got out our cell phones were ringing nonstop, text messages coming every few minutes. At one point I turned off my phone.

We had so many tasks to complete. Beebe and I went to Mikes house to pick out clothes for the funeral. Being in his house without him seemed strange, it felt like any second he was going to walk in and wonder why we were going through his clothes. He was going to see Ethan and yell “geep geep!”

I think you become numb during the process. There are things to do, no time to cry. Maybe it was good for us, good for Beebe. I don’t know.
We had relatives to pick up from the airport. Family and Friends were flying in from all over the country. I set to making the program for the service, contacting Father Bob who married Beebe and I and baptized Ethan. We had to get Mikes clothes from the dry cleaners, go to the printer, meet up with friends from out of town, call everyone we could think of to see who had talked to Mike last. We were busy. We were tired. When we laid in bed at night we were exhausted but we couldn’t sleep.

Ive never seen Beebe’s mom cry. I’ve never seen Ashley cry. This crushed me. But It was nothing like seeing Beebe’s dad cry. How do you lose a child? Having my own, I can’t even fathom it.

In the past few weeks, I have notcied the way I bath Ethan, the way I cuddle him. The way his hair smells, the way his breath smells. The way he runs around with delight, the way he cries. The way I comfort him and I can’t stop the tears thinking Bee’s parents did all these things with their children. Held them, cuddled them and watched them grow the way we are watching Ethan grow. How they must reflect on these memories and know they will never smell their sweet boy again, they will never hear his laugh.

The service was nice. There were so many people. I think Beebe and I walked around in a daze. Greeting people, hugging people, trying not to cry.

We couldn’t have an open casket. I think this has really hurt Beebe because he never got to say goodbye properly. Many people say he would not have wanted to see him like that, but I really think my husband would like to have seen something, even if it was just his hand to hold. But he couldn’t even have that. I often feel like he is still in some denial. Is it harder to accept the death of a loved one if you cant see a body? How do you say goodbye to a box? HOW?

We brought Mike home on June 8th. He was cremated.

So why am I writing this? Because I dont want to forget.

I’ve printed the newspaper article. I’ve collected all these pictures. I printed everything written on facebook and our website. We’ve made a folder. How sad a life has been reduced to a folder.

We’ll never know what you were doing on I10 at 430am. Our questions will never be answered. We are sad and angry you are gone. Sometimes it doesn’t seem real. We really do sometimes expect you to come walking through the door. I find these funny pictures of you from weddings and want to show you. I guess I still can.

You are everywhere, reminding us that you are looking down. Another random image. Did you take this of yourself? I think you did

19 thoughts on “Reminders of You

  1. I feel your words in this post, and again, I want to say that I am so sorry. Those are beautiful family photos you can cherish forever. Some do not even have that. I pray the pain weakens for all of you.

  2. Corine, I am so proud of you for writing this. I know how much courage it takes to put yourself out there like this. I also know that doing this will become a huge comfort to you. I couldn’t get through reading this without crying and it’s surreal looking at these pictures because I was at that wedding too. I think about you and Beebe and your family all the time. Know that the people that truly care for yall will always have you in their thoughts and prayers.

  3. I’ve been out of touch, I’m just now catching up on all the major changes in your life … your words were beautiful and the photographs say it all. My heart is with you.

  4. Oh, Corine, my heart just aches reading this. I know you wrote this for you, but thank you for sharing it with everyone else as well. Your writing is beautiful and it is a great reminder of why we should never take a moment for granted.

    I’m so sorry for everyone in the Tran family. I hope that as time passes those little reminders of Mike bring you joy and fond memories rather than the hurt of loss.

  5. Beebe & Corine: My heart breaks reading this. To know everything you guys went through and are still going through, I really can’t even imagine. Mike was a great guy…so funny…he always made me laugh every single time I saw him. I know we aren’t the closest of friends but I think you already know that if either of you ever need anything…I’m here.

  6. Beebe and Corine, I just want you to know that I have not stopped praying or thinking about you and your family. Mike was a great person and will be missed by many. Jenn

  7. Corine and Beebe,

    I am so sorry for the loss of Michael. I know this is a hard time for you. I will pray that God will give you some relief to your broken hearts.

  8. What a beautiful tribute. No words can make the pain go away, but time and lots of prayers will somehow lessen the heartache. Losing a sibling is devasting, but keeping them alive in your heart helps us go on. My continued prayers are with the entire Tran family.

  9. Corine, Beebe, I am so sorry. This is beautiful. A perfect tribute.

    If love is a measure of life, then Mike must have been an amazing guy. Keep him with you.

  10. Corine, I am so sorry for what you guys are going through. I cannot even begin to fathom the heartache you feel right now. Time doesn’t necessarily heal all wounds. Sometimes, people are always left with a feeling of something is permanently missing. Its okay to feel that way. The only thing that time helps is moving on from the anger and sadness of death to the celebration of his life. I will be praying that these next few months get a little easier for you and Beebe.

  11. I am in tears right now as I read this. But everything that you wrote is such a beautiful tribute to Mike and I know that it must have been hard for you to write. I love these pictures of Mike, especially the last one. It captures his personality, his spunk and his fun side. I know that the pain will never go away but I hope that it will get better for all of you. I am here for you whenever you guys need me and I pray for Mike everyday.

  12. Corine – what a beautiful tribute to your brother-in-law. I admire your courage. I can’t even imagine what you guys are still going through. Please know that Dan & I are here for you guys. Your family are still in our thoughts and prayers.

  13. This is a beautiful & unforgettable write up.. very teary.. It’s hard.. but Time.. whether long or short.. will make it better.. I’ll keep you guys in my thoughts and prayers.

  14. Corine, being a mother and reading your thoughts about Ethan tear my heart to shreds. I, like you, can’t imagine losing my child. Pictures say a thousand words, and I love that you have collected all of these of Mike. My prayers and love are with you and Beebe and the Tran family.

  15. Beebe and Corine. I do not know where to start. My heart is broken. To think how hard it is to imagine having to go on with a life without one of my siblings tears me up. What puts my mind at ease is that Mike’s spirit will always be here. He will live on through you, Beebe. He was so funny and fun to work with. I loved your tribute. It made me cry. Time does make this easier but no one can put a time line on that. Live each day and keep his spirit here with us. Love you two- I’m always here to listen. ~ Mel

  16. Corine,
    I came across your info when I was looking for ways to help my husband who is dealing with the loss of his 19 YO brother who was killed in a car accident on 6/28/09. It has been really hard on all of us and I can not believe how similar our stories are. The night before I had a surprise paarty for my husband’s 30th and the next day we got the call. It is so painful to know that my little boy is going to grow up without his Godfather. I just pray that his Godfather will protect him even better while he looks down on him from heaven. I would love to chat with you about things and try to help each other through this as spouse’s. If you are interested please email me at Look forward to hearing from you and I am praying that your family can find some healing.

  17. I will forever miss Mike. He was an incredible friend and someone you would see anywhere and he would stop and talk forever. I am very deeply saddened for him to go so soon. My first memory of him is he and myself playing guitar at the talent show at Roosevelt High School. May you rest in peace Mike..:(

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