Good-bye, Mr. Mike

Michael Jefferson, Jr.

The world lost a bright light on Easter Sunday. Mr. Michael Jefferson, Jr., was murdered. His light first shone in my world five years ago. He was the director of the before and after-care program at my son’s school. He smiled there for 21 years. He touched countless lives. He loved countless souls.

The community is speechless. This occurred months after a shooting at the mall two miles away. Friends and family and his charges and their families are murmuring how senseless and tragic this is. The discussion is centering around gun control and access to weapons. The discussion is swirling around the mentally ill, and how the shooter, a neighbor, was “just not quite right.”

I dare say anyone who kills a man in a townhouse at a dinner table isn’t quite right, whether or not he is afflicted with a mental illness or holds a gun. I will leave the political discussion of access to weapons and adequate provision of health care to others. I’ve already discussed how I believe the root of violence in this country rests in our failure to teach people to cope with negative feelings of anger, disappointment, frustration. 

I want to do my small part in keeping Mr. Mike from being only a statistic. I want the world to understand what happens when we snuff a light out prematurely. We are so far removed from the consequences of our behaviors as we’re connecting virtually, and for fun, we kill and destroy through animation.

Everyone remembers Mr. Mike as the kindest, gentlest giant with the widest, brightest smile. He never raised his voice and he was always fair and patient and kind. He was a saint–he treated all the children and their parents this way. I can’t even treat my own children or my own parents this way. You could feel this was more than a job to him. He loved those children. He respected those children. He knew those children. He was so important in my children’s lives, and in mine. Even after we left his care, we would say hello enthusiastically when we saw each other around town. We shared mutual friends and I was always excited to hear about him and send him our greetings.

The saddest part of all of this, for me, is knowing he likely suffered in his last moments as he knew his fate. As he knew he deserved better. As he knew there was nothing he could do about his destiny. He was shot multiple times. I will spare you the details, but from accounts from his friends and the police, he was apparently trying to get help as he walked out his front door where he collapsed.

I imagine the fear coursing through his veins as he realized what had happened, and how ludicrous this situation was. I imagine the piercing, shooting pain of a gun shot wound in his face and other parts of his body. I imagine him gasping for breath as his life decisions and relationships flash before him. I imagine him wondering what will happen to the father he cares for, to his sibling, to his girlfriend, to his friends. I wonder if he ever received a moment of peace or resignation before his final breath. I wonder if he fought death to the very last moment. My heart aches at the thought of his pain, his fear, his realization. My tears run for a life cut so short, for the lives he will never touch, for the holes in the lives he leaves behind.

If we all thought of these fears and pain that those dying inevitably go through, would it be so easy to resort to violence to solve problems and cope with negative feelings? If we imagined our child or parent or spouse slowly living through those moments of sheer terror and piercing pain–would it be so easy to lash out at others to right a wrong?

Good-bye, Mr. Mike. I’m so very, very sorry the world did not treat you as kindly and as graciously as you treated others. We love you so, and carry you in our hearts and lives. We know your light shines from above. The world mourns the loss of your light on this earth, and what a loss it is.





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18 Responses to Good-bye, Mr. Mike

  1. judysbirds says:

    What a loving, moving tribute for this young man, one of so many unsung heroes who work for, who love, who stand in the gap on behalf of our children. May he rest in peace, and may you, and the hundreds of others who personally loved him, find peace in your memories of him and the legacy of love he leaves for each of you.


    • Thank you so very much for your eloquent and supporting thoughts. He did one of the most important jobs in this world, and it came so naturally to him. My greatest sadness is that so many children will never receive his gifts of love, charity, grace, kindness. Thank you so much-


  2. Karen Lanser says:

    Oh my … my heart goes out to all of you. I deeply admire your tribute … and …. I, too, am deeply saddened that we live in a global world where people are persistently oppressed, marginalized and afraid. I am further saddened that for lack of a better understanding … support … or even the help to work through their own stuff … horrific events such as you described become part of our lived experiences. What will it take for us to understand each other’s pain …


    • Thank you Karen. Yes, I think we need to reminded of each other’s pain to stay humans, to stay connected–otherwise we gloss over the numbers and facts on the daily news. We shake our heads and walk off to our next task because pain is uncomfortable and who wants that? But it touches us all. Thank you for your support. xoxo-


  3. SBB says:

    I am speechless. It sounds as if the world was a better place because of him, and that the world will never be the same now that he is gone. Thank you for reminding us about the importance of kindness and empathy. Sending love to you, and to all of those who are touched by this loss.


    • Thank you so much. He truly made this world a brighter, better place. There was so much goodness in him. A friend reminded me of how he used to take time out of weekends to watch the kids play in their soccer/baseball/basketball games–kids he cared for in the program, not his kids! The first time I saw him at a game, I thought What?? Even I don’t want to be here on a weekend and my kid is playing! He loved all the kids so much, he was so proud of them.


  4. Maria Washington-Bey says:

    These words are soo true. I knew mike from high school . Very touching words


  5. Anonymous says:

    Thank you for your tribute. We also have a child in the school that he worked. As you so eloquently conveyed, he affected so many lives in a positive way and really cared. I never saw Mike without a smile. You were right, SBB, the world was a better place with him.


    • Thank you for reading, and for sharing. It’s really amazing to see how many people he’s touched. We must carry on his ease of sharing love and and kindness. I’m so very sorry for your loss as well-


  6. Bob says:

    Some ask why? I ask what for ? What good may come out of this tragic act ? I never knew this man,but after reading the account of his life , I feel like I did know him and countless others like him whose life was taken from a world that needs more souls like his, may he rest in peace for he is in a better place now!


  7. Theresa says:

    In remembering him, you honor him. Blessings…


    • Theresa, thank you so much for your wise and loving thoughts. I do wish we could do more than honor him, and know as a world we have failed him in his time here on earth. Thank you so much for your support and kindness! Blessings to you as well!


  8. Thank you for sharing. What a terrible thing that happened. I hope his family is alright too. It is so hard to comprehend. I don’t have the proper words to convey. I just feel sad about this.


    • Thank you so much for your empathy and words and support. The viewing is tonight. I hope the support his loved ones and community demonstrate can be some sort of strength for his family. Thank you.


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