Thursday, May 15, 2014

Goodbye, Michelle - you'll be missed

    Sad news today about the death of Michelle Stewart, the long-time B.C. government communications person who came out so bravely a year ago with a blog on life with end-stage kidney failure due to a lifelong eating disorder.
    A communicator to the end, Michelle kept on blogging right up until a month ago, when her deteriorating health got to be too much for her to continue. I highly recommend a read of her blog for anyone who has had or wondered about what it's like to have a persistent eating disorder, because Michelle did some of the most insightful and painfully honest writing about that torturous condition that I've ever read. She made what was surely a immensely difficult and ultimately fatal decision to let her kidney disease go largely untreated (the treatment, a transplant, would have worked only if she could have gotten control over her eating disorder), and then blogged bravely about her body's relentless deterioration as the disease took over.
    Those who know her well will remember her for all kinds of reasons, but may she also be remembered for her exceptional abilities as a government communications staffer who became an expert in her own right on the foibles, complexities, struggles and shining moments of our challenged health-care system. As a journalist, I always liked it when Michelle was the person I got passed off to for answers, because then I knew for sure I'd be getting an answer and that it would be a meaningful one.
    I didn't get the chance to know her more personally until she was already dying. We connected last year on Facebook after I started reading her blog, and I soon joined what I imagine was legions of fans who she'd exchange endearing messages with from time to time.
    I admit, I selfishly wished that she would still be well enough to have visitors when I returned from Honduras in early April. I'd met her in person no more than once or twice in all our years of living and working in the same city, yet felt after our electronic correspondence over the past year that we had all kinds of things to talk about.
    Unfortunately, she was already too sick when I got home for us to be able to have those conversations. But the gift of her blog is that people who never got the chance to know her while alive will still be able to take in her well-informed and insightful thoughts.
     Catch you next time around, Michelle. You did your job well. You loved and were loved. You made a difference in this world, and shared yourself with all of us this past year even when it would have been so much easier to have just left those painful stories untold. Thank you.


Anonymous said...

Thank you, Jody, for this beautiful tribute.

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Anonymous said...

Jodi,you always have a way to share ,I never even knew Michelle but I feel I really should have and do now just a little through your special gift of writing thank you

Anonymous said...

The above message was from Leissa

Chris said...

Thanks for sharing. I've read her whole blog over the last 2 days. It's a very powerful message and will share it with others.