For more than 20 years, Michael and I prepared the monthly Journal Club together; he selected the studies, I wrote the summaries, and he prepared the commentaries. Month after month, year after year, we exchanged e-mails about these matters, meeting in person only once in all that time. Although he was himself a good writer, Michael always sought out my opinion when he had doubts about what he had written, respected any changes I suggested, and lavishly praised the abstracts I wrote. In short, he was my ideal professional partner.
Over time, we began exchanging information about our personal lives, including recommendations on travel companies, books, and even a massive snow shovel (the Big Scoop), which he purchased from Amazon after I raved about it. Mostly we wrote about our families—he was a devoted father to 3 daughters—and, as the years passed, so did the Burke family milestones, including college graduations and, most recently, a wedding. Michael obviously adored his wife, Missy, whom he found a way to mention in most of his e-mails.
Once they had an empty nest, Michael and Missy began traveling more, sometimes to faraway places, and while Michael reported on these adventures in glowing terms, I loved how he continued to appreciate life’s small pleasures. In one of his last e-mails, for example, he commented on how nice it was to spend a quiet weekend morning writing his commentaries while sitting in his screened-in porch—“my favorite place in the house and maybe in the whole world,” as he put it—and he often ended his communications with a simple “Life is good.”
Sadly, life is not as good without you in it, Michael. I will miss you.