Our community lost someone yesterday. One of the few guys I both liked and respected: Mike Reed. If you didn’t know him, you should have. I’m not writing this to mourn his death, I think that would be a disservice. I just want to share a bit about his life. I felt lucky to have known him.
The first time I met Mike it was pretty typical of Mike: he was helping us. It was after midnight, and he was helping a couple of Texas guys get some missing pieces of gear together. I remember being pleasantly surprised – here’s a guy who knew his way around a boat and was willing to help us out, even though it was late and he wasn’t going to be diving with us.
We dove together a few times over the next couple of years. It got to the point that when I heard Mike was going to be on the trip, I felt better about the trip. He was a handy guy to have onboard, a diver who would actually look out for you, and always willing to chip in to get things underway. Believe me, those are rare qualities.
I know, personally, of multiple people whom he let “borrow” his boat. No questions asked, nothing expected in return. Just handed over his boat to someone else and said, “Have fun!” He was a generous guy, another rare quality. I know of very few people that would hand over something so personal (and damned expensive) to someone else without strings. But that was Mike Reed.
I took the jump into traveling and spearfishing before he did, but he took the jump into underwater photography before I did. So we spent time bouncing ideas off each other. If you were a friend of his on Facebook, you got to see his progression from complete beginner to talented photog. In fact, every picture in this post is one from Mike Reed.
I know most people want to know what happened. But it won’t change anything. Mike is still gone, and we’re still here. The world keeps turning, but we all have a Mike-sized hole in our lives.
Nobody knows how we’re supposed to process the death of a good, young guy. When I got the text, it was a huge sinking feeling. Then shock. Then anger. And finally, just sadness. Real sadness. The kind that you know won’t go away anytime soon.
But every one of us that dives, knows that we take risks. Sometimes big risks. And that’s one thing that I liked about Mike. It’s a special kind of guy that can take risks like this; it wasn’t for money and it wasn’t for fame.
People called him crazy, but I just saw a guy living better than anybody else. It helps to remember that we all die, and that a year’s worth of good living is more than most people ever get. Mike got more than a year of good living, much more.
It’s those times when you put it all on the line when you are really living, Mike got that.
Like everyone who knew Mike, yesterday was a rough day. It was tough, and not any easier last night. I’m sure you all went through all of your pictures, texts and remembered all of your phone calls. I did.
Forever. 55. That seems really far away now. It didn’t just a couple of days ago. That’s a harsh reminder of how short life is, and how important it is to live every day like it’s your last. Because it really could be. My most sincere condolences to his family and friends. I can’t imagine the pain you’re all in. I’m so sorry.
What I really want to say, though, is thanks. So, Mike, thanks. Thanks for reminding us that there are good, generous people in the world. Thanks for reminding us that what it means to live your life. Most importantly, thanks for sharing some of your time with us – it wasn’t enough, but we’re glad we got it.
We’re really going to miss you Mike.