On October 12th, 2017 we lost a person that had a very special place in my heart and one who played an huge role in making me into the person I am today.
Michael Maggiulli passed away in his sleep at the age of 54. Mike was a very loving and giving person as you will see from my story. We lost touch with each other after high school for a few years. We would then re-connect a few more times through the years but grew more and more distant as our lives went entirely into different directions. He always remained my very first best friend in my heart and I am sure that he kept me in his heart as well. We have many memories and great times together as kids and we were literally inseparable. His parents were my parents and mine his. We were like brothers.
My life with Mike started when I began 5th grade at St. Hedwigs. I came into the school as the new kid, was pretty introverted and kept to myself. I used to be picked on by many kids and somewhat bullied (by today’s standards at least). It was not an easy time for me of course but I was managing. Mike was one of the “Cool” kids in the class. A bit of the class clown, good looking kid and he had his buddies that he would hang out with in class. One day (I’ll never forget it), Mike came to my rescue in the school yard and fended off a few kids that were picking on me. He asked me my name and we started to talk. He asked me to meet him after school and we would ride home on our bikes together now that we knew that we only lived about 10 blocks from each other. Then he asked me if I wanted to hang out with him at his house and play some basketball. I was thrilled that someone “cool” like him was taking an interest in hanging out with me, so of course I said yes. Well my life literally changed from that day forward. I was no longer that kid that people picked on or bullied. I was becoming one of the “Cool” kids. I am sure it took a bit of of training, and Mike was happy to oblige with making that happen. I remember him talking to me about getting new clothes, changing my hair style (yes I had hair at one time). We used to talk and hang out for hours listening to rock and roll, playing pool in his basement, and riding our bikes all over town. We started a friendship that I would cherish for the rest of my life. Who knows how my life would have shaped up if it wasn’t for that pivotal moment in my life. Mike helped me. As I am sure he did with many people that crossed his path in his life.
I didn’t tell this story to many people. It was something I kept with me all these years. I did thank him many times (even as kids) for what he did. But I don’t think his parents, cousins or even many of our close friends from grammar or high school know this story. I was compelled to write about it now as a way to celebrate the person that he was in my life and to share with anyone that reads this that may have known Mike to understand what kind of a person he was and how he impacted me.
You’ll be missed my friend, may you rest in peace. I know a day will come when we will meet again.