Michael Hudson, who died from suicide 5 years ago, would have turned 25 today
One of my first published articles was for the Lake Orion Review about Michael Hudson, a 19-year-old Lake Orion High School grad who took his life in April 2009.
In August of that year, as one of my assignments for the paper, I covered a bowling fundraiser, put on by Michael's family in his memory. And, upon meeting his family, I was forever changed.
Michael's mother, Karen, and aunt, Sharon Carlile, inspired me to become a mental heath and suicide awareness activist. Without them, this blog, which you are reading right now, probably wouldn't even exist.
I have since written countless articles about young adults who have lost their lives to suicide because the Hudson family taught me that they deserve to be remembered and that their story can save the lives of others.
I must admit that before I met the Hudson family, I believed in the stereotype — that all people with mental illness were loners who wore dark makeup, were failing their classes and were easy to spot. While some people who suffer from depression can be described this way, not all are.
In an article I wrote about Michael for The Oakland Press, his mother Karen said, "People think it can't be the person who's everybody's friend, who's smiling all the time or the star athlete."
Michael was 6'7", graduated with honors, was popular, was a "stud" among the ladies and was embarking on becoming a model and actor. Not the kind of person anyone would guess was struggling with these internal demons.
I will always remember what his aunt Sharon said to me more than five years ago — "(Michael was) a kid who gave back so much to others and who just needed to keep some of it to himself."
And that's one thing I have realized — about myself and about others — that sometimes the people who seem the happiest and have the most friends are the ones who are secretly suffering the most. Sometimes, they think so much of others that they forget to think of themselves.
Today would have been Michael's 25th birthday. And his mom posted this on Facebook, which brought tears to my eyes:
"Can't believe we would have been celebrating Michael's 25th birthday today. So hard to think of what he'd be doing now, what job he'd have, if he'd be married or have any children as so many of his friends have. We miss him more than even imaginable. Yet, one thing we do know is that Michael is celebrating today and being celebrated in Heaven. Hugh's Dad and I would like to ask all of you to join us today in celebrating Michael's life. As many of you know, he loved going out for ice cream sundaes-or was that just a great way to meet girls??? Either way, you're never too grown-up for a sundae! So, get your favorite ice cream and your sundae best toppings and celebrate a memory of Michael. Better still, invite a friend or even buy them a sundae. Perhaps it's someone you can share a memory with or perhaps it's someone you know just needs a friend right now. I like to think Michael did a lot of that too. Or if that doesn't work for you, just light a candle. Just celebrate Michael with us and the love he shared with so many of us! Thanks!"
If I could say something to Michael right now, I would tell him, "I wish I could have met you. I wish I could have seen all the things life had in store for you. But I also want to thank you because, even though you are no long here, you changed my life. You made me realize what's important. And I know you will never be forgotten. Your story will touch the lives of so many people, people who you never even got to meet. And I am so lucky that I got to be part of sharing your story with others."
And I hope that, in Heaven, he can hear me.