A part of me always knew we would run out of chairs at Mike’s funeral.
The 22nd is coming up. Like the day Mike passed, Christmas Day, the week between the 22nd and the 29th of August is forever marred. The 22nd is my birthday. The 29th was his – and I miss, above all, the week-long celebration of life and friendship and restive recklessness.
It’s been four years, and still we stir away at the memory soup, adding more and more every day. We season with bits of who Michael Davis truly was, who we wished he was, and who he never got around to being.
We fill things in to smooth out his savage edges.
The reality is, Michael was an untamable wild man. He was generous in his friendship and selfless with his time. He would sleep upon the floor so that others may take his bed. He gave his own food to the hungry. He was a shepherd for all the lost children, a beacon of bright light guiding us through the fog. He was always good at getting other people back on track – whilst being far off the rails himself.
Every person I know has a “Michael Davis” story.
If those who have passed possess the immortality of fame, as he does, then surely, we who are left behind possess the immortality of unconditional love.
When I was asked to do the eulogy at Mike’s funeral, I was faced with the Herculean task of capturing a force few of us could ever comprehend. How do you describe a tornado to somebody who has never been caught in one? How do you describe the light of the stars to somebody who has never seen it? How do you capture, in words, such a profound presence?
To describe Michael Davis in words runs the risk of losing who he was. Still, I tried, and what follows is how it ran, to the best of my memory:
“A super-nova is a bright, exploding star.
So bright – that it often, briefly, outshines an entire galaxy.
So bright – that for this short period, it can generate more energy than the sun can in its entire lifespan.
Michael is gone…
But the light he used to cast over the rest of us will never be extinguished.
He was no ordinary star. He was a super-nova – who burnt brightly in all of our lives.
What made him super, what made him outshine everything around him – was not just his wild, crazy behaviour that we all know and love him for…
But also his all-round, pure, selfless goodness.
Michael always said –
“The most beautiful things in life cannot be seen or even heard, but have to be felt with the heart.”
This was his way.
This is what made the rest of us gravitate toward him.
Michael always tried to surround himself with as many good people as he possibly could. He had a rare gift – he could see the greatness in anybody – and often brought it out of them.
He believed every single person has a story to tell, and he wanted to hear all of them.
He was the “great collector of stories.”
Mike was the type of person who cared more about the pain of others than he did his own. He had a way of just feeling it – and he always went out of his way, the Extra Mile, to put a smile on somebody’s face.
Michael used to love quotations and poetry.
There was never a moment in life where he could not summon up a couple of old, famous words to move you…
Or make you laugh…
Or remind you that you were not alone – He was always right there with you in the thick of it.
A well-known quote, one he recited often, springs to mind now when I remember the type of person he was. And it goes:
“Every man dies, but not every man really lives.”
Michael may have lived a short life, but he lived a full one. He lived life, every single moment, to its absolute fullest.
“Never fear when Michael is near,” he’d say, and I can still hear his voice saying it.
There are so many great stories, so many epic memories, which we all have.
Mark Jordaan put it best when he said – “You can’t go anywhere in this town without there being a story.”
Everything reminds us of him.
Everywhere reminds us of him.
But, it wasn’t all wild.
Michael had a deeper side which few ever got to see. One of my own personal favourite memories – Was when we drove and walked around town for hours, looking for the tallest point or the tallest building – so that we could smoke a cigar and watch the sun come up.
When Mike one day said to me;
“Buddy, sometimes it feels like I have a long way to walk on a really short plank.”
I so struggled to understand this at the time. It seemed so out of character for him… But today, today I get it.
When you spent enough time with him, you sometimes got the feeling that something so good was simply too good to last forever,
You had to appreciate every moment while you could.
That is how he lived.
Michael will always be remembered for many things.
His kind soul. His strong moral compass. His fondness of animals – particularly his dogs. His life-long love affair with film and music. His bedroom walls filled with art and wisdom. And of course, that ridiculous, trademark hairstyle.
Michael will always be remembered as many things – and the sheer variety of these will give you an idea of how many people’s lives he touched.
He was known to many as:
Michael John Davis. Mnr. Davis. The Joshua. Michael Savage. The modern-era Tyler Durden. Part of the Wrecking Crew. Part of the Nowhere Crowd. Part of Untitled Film Productions.
He was a lover, a traveler and a soldier – in a time where very few people are capable of being more than one of those things at any given time. He was a perfect friend. He was a caring brother. He was a devoted son.
He was – he is – irreplaceable.
He leaves behind his family, friends, girlfriend. People who will always need him.
We believed that with all its sham and drudgery and broken dreams – it was still a beautiful world… But the world will always be a much darker place now, without his light to show us the way to shore.
But if I know Michael,
He would not want us to mourn his tragic passing – but to celebrate his life. Few people have ever lived with more strength and confidence and passion.”
I sometimes wonder if he’d heard any of that and what he would have to say. I wonder if he was sitting there, in disguise, among the crowd. I sometimes wonder if all things subsist and never die, if they only vanish for a little while and then return.
At the funeral, I looked up often, expecting to see him standing there by the window. Still, these days, I see him around. Here and there, somebody will have his eyes. Another will have his hair. Another his manner of speech. Another his personality – as if he’d well and truly been shared with the world.
We spoke a lot about love and family and politics and God and breaking away. I miss those beer-fuelled late-night conversations. I remember falling asleep on a motorbike. I remember crashing the beetle into Ferdi’s dustbins one night. I remember the tall buildings and the cigars. I remember the 2am BosB’s burgers. They were fuckin terrible. I remember Boston Legal marathons and all the writing on his bedroom walls.
In my dreams sometimes, I see Michael as a large, black dog asleep upon the porch of a run-down wooden house in the middle of the desert. There, he still quotes poetry and the walls are filled floor-to-ceiling with the disjointed ramblings of a mad man.
The 29th approaches, and as always – I celebrate the life of a legend. Christmas approaches, and as always – I remember every little thing.
I remember innocent, reckless youth. Trashing restaurant kitchens. I remember finding a vampire who put drops of her blood in our vodka. Trashing houses. An unstoppable force. Breaking things that didn’t belong to us. Shooting crossbows at each other. Rescuing damsels in distress. Ah, to be young. I remember asking him, with a raised eyebrow, why the newborn puppies all had his hairstyle. I remember his presence, and his uncanny sense of time and space and circumstance. He could read a room. He knew when to arrive, he knew when to leave. I remember him trying to kidnap a neighbour’s husky hound – and naming her Delilah – after the song. I remember him selling the expensive video camera which he’d borrowed from me – and I remember being too amused by how irresponsible he was to be angry.
I remember throwing wine glasses at each other across an empty restaurant and drinking cider from a shoe.
Michael Davis was a savage, and a better man than I. When the banshee came calling for him that early Christmas morning, I expect he had his hands full with Michael Davis. I expect Mike put up one hell of a fight.
Like trying to catch lightning in a jar. Like trying to bottle a super-nova.
I picture him, when his time came, yelling out a battle cry and dying like a hero going home.
For those who still think of him often, as I do. For those who miss him dearly – I urge you to chase down tornadoes without fear. Look up at the stars from time to time. Climb the highest mountains you can find, all the way to the top.
Because that’s where he is. That’s where you’ll find him.
I close with a poem, as I did at the funeral:
“I’ll tell you how the sun set, as shadows marched in lines
And God sent West his rainbows, a colour at a time.
The hills put on their blankets, the hawk and crow were done
And I said softly in twilight, “See you tomorrow, sun.”
I sat out in the darkness, and I felt the dew drops fall
I watched the moon rise in it’s place, I heard the night-bird’s call.
God’s world, in perfect order, one after one
May we all be in accordance, on our last setting sun.”
See you again one day, my friend.
Music which reminds us of Mike, or songs which Mike liked can be listened to and downloaded here: