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Thursday, July 24, 2014

In memory

Wednesday, February 27, 2002

I never read the obituaries in news-papers until I became responsible for their placement.

Even last week when I read the obituaries in the newspaper I edit, they meant little to my young heart and mind.

But that Friday, when I was asked to type up my husband's obituary, the importance became all too real.

For those of you who didn't make the connection, the 24-year-old Michael Wolf that appeared in the Pilot-Tribune's obituaries was my husband.

He died on Valentine's Day.

The next morning, I found myself at my parents' computer trying to sum up 24 years of life in an obituary of approximately 500 words.

I couldn't think about his life. I couldn't think about his death. I could barely think at all. But I sat down and filled the formula that we use here at the newspaper with facts about my late husband.

It wasn't enough. It was ordinary.

"I'm a writer," I thought to myself. "I should be able to put together an obituary to honor his life that is more than ordinary." But in grief and overwhelming emotion, I couldn't do more than ordinary.

Today, seven days past his death, I may be able to write an obituary that honors him.

I realize that this is what most grieving relatives go through when they submit obituaries to be printed in our newspapers.

The grief is so strong that they just put together an ordinary obituary and move on to the next decision in the long funeral arrangement process.

We get a stream of ordinary obituaries.

But no life is ordinary.

No person is ordinary.

Mike was extraordinary in many ways, both told and untold.

At the funeral service, my pastor described Mike as "a good man, always looking out for the good of others."

He was. And he often looked out for my good, even when it meant no good for himself.

He had a caring heart and he put his all into everything, whether it be a football game, a surprise date or the rebuilding of a stroker engine.

I could fill this column for weeks with memories of Mike, but I won't. No amount of words will do justice to his life. But memories will.

I will honor his memories and I will live on.

I'm not asking for your pity or a stream of sympathy cards, I'm only letting you see into what's happening in my life.

In the coming weeks, I may be a little slower than usual. I my break down in tears from time to time. And I may write some strange, off-the-wall editorials that will only make sense when you realize that I am grieving.

But I'll be here. I'll find tomorrow. I'll move on. And I'll treasure the memories that make a life extraordinary.

Anitra Wolf is the editor of the Dickinson County News and a regular contributor to the Pilot-Tribune. She is a native of Alta.