Creative, giving, loving, kind, talented
Often joking and laughing, Michael was lighthearted with an infectious giggle. His sister Kylie said, “You wouldn’t think that a grown man would have a giggle, but my brother did!” Most things came easily to Michael; he was good at any hands-on or athletic task. It was frustrating for him that academics were difficult, or it could have been that a teacher told him he wasn’t capable, and he took it to heart. “He made us proud,” his dad said. “Even though he struggled, he finished high school.”
The middle of three children, Michael was close to his sisters Kylie and Katelyn. “He was a sensitive soul. He felt things deeply,” Kylie stated. His dad thought that Michael sometimes consumed other people’s burdens, and it weighed on him.
Michael was great artistically, always doodling as a kid, and later spray-painting murals. He was also a skilled skateboarder, longboarder, and soccer player. He routinely took apart and restored motorcycles and became a professional paintball player on the top-rated team. It surprised his parents to see people lining up to get their son’s autograph. Videos from a paintball clinic in New Jersey show how patient and encouraging Michael was when teaching young kids new skills.
His dad, Ryan, fondly remembers a casual game of golf with Michael. “He had a nice, smooth, flowing, natural swing. He chipped in the hole twice from the green, and in the last hole, he hit the cup. People don’t chip that much in a year, and he did it almost three times in one round.”
In his last year of high school, Michael was doing most of his schoolwork online. He seemed quiet, depressed, and withdrawn. He left home at 18, moving in with his paintball coach and later with his friend, Buddha. It could be months between visits, and then Michael only stayed about 20 minutes. He supported his girlfriend, Juliana, emotionally and financially, while she pursued her degree. Juliana was poised to return the favor so Michael could go to school. He expressed interest in both nursing and being a sushi chef, but his addiction took over, and plans changed. Instead, his girlfriend helped to get him to treatment.
Michael didn’t have a great attachment to material things. His mom, Lorie, remembers he gave his red Vans to someone in the treatment center and his green flannel shirt to his roommate. His parents wondered why he asked for a ridiculous number of cigarettes while in treatment – he was giving them out to everyone. He also learned how to do tattoos and gave them to himself and others.
Mike could make everyone relax just by smiling, chuckling, and giving his signature smirk. He made things better, more relaxed, enjoyable, and fun just by being who he was. “Mike had so many years of potential to express, so many years unlived, it’s torture,” Ryan said. “Michael is still teaching me even though he is not here,” Lorie said. “I would love it if we could be the last family to feel this grief,” Kylie stated, later adding, “If Michael were here, he would say, ‘don’t believe what people tell you they are giving or selling you. Don’t try drugs, not even one.’
Michael’s mother, Lorie McCormick, father, Ryan McCormick, and sister Kylie Castro, provided the information for this narrative.
September 13, 1991-October 23, 2021
Age 30-Lived with the disease of addiction for 14 years.