Thank you for visiting these pages.
Below you will see comments that have been submitted by family, friends and other contacts of Michael's.
July 1, 2006
A word of thanks for your website
I was linked to your son's memorial web site because I was researching
the poem, Nothing Gold Can Stay, for an English paper. As the mother of a 25
year old, I can identify somewhat with your loss. I have suffered from
depression for many years, so I can definitely identify with your son's
pain. I have contemplated suicide more than once. I am better now but
recognize daily how easy it would be to sink back to that state. Please
accept my condolescences and thanks for a wonderful tribute to you son. I
am warmed by your continuing love for him.
May 9, 2006
I was looking at the web site list done by Rainbow Magic Computer
Services and came upon your son's memorial site. It was sad to read
that you and your family have also been touched by suicide. The
web site is such a tribute to Michael and must bring you some comfort
when you get notes from people who knew and loved your son.
I lost a sister to suicide fifteen years ago. She was only 30 years
old. She had two children, three and six. Janet suffered from hereditary
It seems that we both share in asking the same questions. There
are still times that I go through the "if only, I wish I could've,
I should have, I would have, I wish."
Michael's death is still so recent compared to Janet's and while
I still grieve for my sister, I cannot even begin to imagine the
pain of losing a child.
Please know that while I do not know you, that I am sad that someone
else has been touched and devastated by death caused by mental illness.
We can only hope that someday the different Depressive Illnesses
will better controlled or even cured.
Take care Paddy,
February 21, 2006
Every once in a while I think of Michael, for really he was my most kindred spirit in Pre-School days, grade one and grade 2 -- before we then moved far away to Ontario. This morning I decided to "Google" his name -- not for the first time -- to see if I could find out what he was up to. I had little doubt it would be something interesting and challenging, remembering both his family and himself as being so. For some reason, today I found him -- in the collection of memories of family and friends. As soon as I saw the photo on the home page, I recognized him...I didn't need to find any childhood photos, or even the name of his sister, his birthdate, or references to Margaret Jenkins to confirm. That photo was so obviously my friend from long long ago.
I'm not a good correspondent by any stretch of the imagination, but I thought I would jot down just a few Michael-Miller memories that are very much a part of who I am, even 30 years on. Memories that still come back to me every so often. (He is always "Michael Miller" to me, never just Michael!)
* Stopping at your house on the way to kindergarten
in the mornings, and loving sitting at the table as Michael finished
breakfast, then walking on together to school. Feeling so grown
up and independent!
* Movies at your house! My introduction to 'Paddle-to-the-Sea,'
forever afterwards a favourite (years later I discovered that Bill
Mason, the producer, was a friend of dad's parents)...and a connection
with my husband when we first met.
* Taking turns dropping (and catching) paratroopers
from a window in your second story.
* Always, always being in the same 'reading group'
-- which usually comprised of just Michael and myself. And being
so glad that we could actually read and enjoy the stories, rather
than have to wait on the others who didn't really know how to read
* My accidentally slamming Adie's hand in the VW door,
and having to take Michael & a friend of his to the Emergency
with us, instead of straight home from school.
* Being a bit jealous that Adie and Alison had been
learning to skate while we were at school.
* Michael explaining to me who Bobby Orr was, and
showing me a hockey card -- I can still see the black and yellow
uniform. I have a vague memory that we were supposed to be playing
"kissing tag" with all the others at recess (either grade one or
2 at ST P's), something neither of us were that impressed with or
interested in, so this was probably our diversion tactic. I also
remember being aware that Michael's great interest in this hockey-player
business was not something I could really relate to!
* Visiting both horses and then snakes (somewhere!)
while in Pre-School (I actually still have the newspaper photo from
the former, which features both Michael and I, although some other
kid's arm blocks out the view of Michael's face)
* Our grade one Christmas play, in which I was Mrs.
Santa, and Michael was one of the elves trying to solve Santa's
Mostly, I remember a general over-all feeling that Michael was like me -- someone who loved reading (or good stories in whatever medium!), enjoyed learning, loved the museum, was sensitive, was a bit on the quiet side, and with whom, and in whose house, I felt at-home-ness. I knew that he and his family were much more like me and my family than any of the other kids I knew at school. And perhaps because when we moved to the Ottawa Valley there was no one at my school anything like this (and although I did have girls who were friends, even if they were different than me, I didn't have any other boys as friends until I reached my teens), Michael remained particularly distinct for me. I have never forgot him. Nor will I ever.
Paddy, I hope some of these memories have given you a smile. They
have me! Know that your family, and your son in particular, have
an important role in the early-me. I will keep you and Alison in
my thoughts and prayers, particularly at moments when I remember
Michael. And may Michael, as time goes by, bring you more and more
My love across the distance of time and space to you and Alison.
Kirstin Jeffrey Johnson
November 21, 2005
I don't think we ever met. I shared an office with Mike during my
master's at UVic. I read about your ride and the website in the
HINF newsletter probably some time ago but in the melee of raising
two boys, selling one house and building another and work I never
got to looking.
I remember thinking how brilliant Mike's work was, as I could just
barely understand it even with almost two degrees. At the end of
my Master's degree I also lost my best friend who died unexpectedly
and I can only imagine the effect of losing someone even closer.
Now as the parent of two sons I cannot imagine your grief.
At the beginning of our HINF degrees we had email addresses assigned
by the department, first initial and last name (rpadghdam, mmiller)
It turned out that Mike had to be MMiller2 as someone got there
before him! One day in our grad office, probably in 97, Mike told
me he had received an email from a woman that gave great details
of her intentions to get naked and entertain him that night. Some
guys would post this stuff on the Internet, pass it around the office,
etc. In spite of people like me imploring him to share some details,
Mike refused. Instead Mike had politely replied to her and told
her she was probably looking for just plain MMiller. Very classy,
especially for a young guy in a university setting!
There were times when my thesis research was a real struggle and
Mike was always supportive. Knowing now only a bit of what he went
through it is amazing that he could be so supportive when our problems
really were minor. It shows what a considerate and sympathetic person
I enjoyed the site even though it brings also sadness. The photos
of Mike are great as are your photos of Canada.
As I embark on my own journey in memory
of my daughter who suffered from bipolar/schizo-affective disorder
and died on September 9, 2001, I reflect on the kind words of
support and encouragement that Paddy sent. Although I did not
know Michael I do know the face of depression and despair and
somewhat of the struggle that such gifted individuals cope. My
thoughts as I regain perspective on my family's loss will be extended
to Michael, to Paddy and the Miller's and all those friends who
I know miss Michael more than words can express.
Thank you for sharing this web site and I wish every success to
Paddy in the continued effort to raise both awareness and funding
for such a worthwhile project.
Paris, Ontario, Canada
Some Memories of Mike:
As a small child:
Sitting at the kitchen table laughing so hard he could squirt milk out of his nose. Riding bikes/tricycles down the steep pathway, over a jump and into a big pile of oak leaves. In the winter pouring buckets of water down the same steep pathway, for some even more challenging fun.
Being the proud owner of the complete set of 1977/78? season of NHL hockey cards. Performing a very good imitation of Bob and Doug MacKenzie doing their 'Great White North' routines.
Having the fastest (black) toboggan on the hill and attacking the "big" runs (and running into some nasty bushes) at Beacon Hill park and Craigdarroch Castle. Making prank phone calls without dialing the phone.
Earning a model rocket engine for each goal scored in soccer.
Having an ongoing stack of sci-fi novels from the Greater Victoria Public Library. Getting the most words out of the name Christopher, including the word 'priest'.
As a teenager:
Jumping off very high rocks into Shuswap Lake. As a pre 16 year old, driving the Mazda 323 in the fields of Parksville. Owning two or three videos, one of which was 'The Graduate'. Having all? of the Rolling Stones record albums.
As an adult:
Getting my father started in cutting (shaving) his own head of hair. Playing pick up soccer games at Margaret Jenkins.
Sitting on the groom's side because it was seriously lacking in numbers. Having a very dry, witty, sense of humour.
Jennifer Illingworth nee Skillings
Victoria, BC, Canada
I worked with Mike for a couple of years, on a research team at UVic. I used to park at a distance from campus and walk to work. Every day I walked by the UVic Chapel, never suspecting, of course, that I'd one day be attending Mike's memorial service there. He was a good friend, and the first friend I've had who has chosen to die. I didn't understand it then, and still don't now. As a fellow programmer, I could see that Mike was as private as he was brilliant. I was inspired by his apparent self-confidence and his way of dealing with obstacles in the work. When he fell out of touch, I thought it was because he was happy and busy in his new life in Silicon Valley. I wish he had chosen to confide in me in that last year of his life, as he was no doubt suffering. His death left a hollow numb spot that is still with me.
Victoria, BC, Canada
I actually found this by accident and wanted to say sorry for your loss. I recently lost my best friend last year and what a tough thing to go through. I'm sure Michael would love to know so many people cared.
Just thinking of Paddy, Michael and Allison on Michael's birthday. Not to forget Hugh, and Mary and Judy and Iris and the rest of the gang--you are in my thoughts.
Calgary, Alberta, Canada
When I think of Paddy's house, I think of Mike. And I clearly remember him there. In the kitchen. Puttering. Whenever I'd see him, he'd say with a smile, "Hi Lizzie, how's it going?". And we'd chat and share little bits of our lives with each other, as he poured himself a coffee, put this or that into the dishwasher, found something to eat from the fridge.
Sometimes we'd be out on the deck. Drinking a beer maybe. Smelling burgers on the bar-b-que. Catching up with the relatives. Enjoying the evening sun. These days, I'm at Paddy's house every couple of weeks or so. And Mike is not there. And yet, he is still so very... here.
Victoria, BC, Canada
Whenever I visit Victoria, especially the campus, I always think of Mike. The HSD Building, the Cornett, and the pool.
I remember one evening Alice and I forced him to endure almost 3 hours of "Indochine" starring our favourite, the dreamy Vincent Perez. Mike got his revenge by denegrating the actor, declaring, "There's Pensive-Man!" whenever he appeared on the screen. VP is not as appealing anymore...
In undergrad I was often the designated driver, always transporting at least seven at a time to the clubs around town. One morning, my extremely strict Dad found a beer bottle in the back of the van. Think samurai-death-stare. Anyhow, I recounted that story to everyone the next day, and also about the near-end of my Toyota privileges. All I heard was a barely audible "oops" from Mike.
I always thought of Mike as being logical and serious, with a caustic wit. Sometimes I did get to see his silly side. Maybe he was just out to get me. I miss you, Mike. Your friend, Tosh.
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
I find your page really interesting. Thank you.
Nice site. I enjoyed it very much! :-)
I think that Michael must be very impressed with the great accomplishment of his Mother, Paddy, and of her dear friend Joan Skillings (Mike's sort of round about aunt, but mostly friend). They cycled from Victoria, B.C. to Lethbridge, Alberta during September. They were on the bikes for 15 riding days. I saw them arriving on the highway outside Lethbridge and was moved to tears. I am still overcome with their acheivement and with their contribution to the Crisis stabilization unit of the Royal Jubilee Hospital in Victoria. What a blessing for those who daily face the darkness of mental illness. I always remember Michael kindly lending me his bike so that Paddy and I could ride from Victoria to Shawnigan Lake to visit Joan at the cabin. It was a great day for me and my longest ride to that point of about 30 miles. The only problem was adjusting to a strange bike but we made it. I always smile when I think of that day and of Mike and his bike loaner.
mary lou sindlinger
Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Michael as a young lad with all his teammates played soccer on a team of which I had the pleasure along with Tony England of coaching. Michael was not the biggest boy on the the team but he more than made up for that with his playing ability and heart. He was always in the game and gave everything he had in him. He was one of the hardest workers on the team and was very liked by everyone of his mates I didn't see as much of Michael after his youth soccer career was over but I often thought of him. I was truely sorry to hear of his passing I think it was a very sad time for all who knew him, I know it was and is for me. Rest well Michael. Mike O'Brien (Coach "O")
Victoria, BC, Canada
Although I did not know Mike very well, I did know that he was a very kind and gentle hearted person. In high school I remember always thinking of him as being such a polite and considerate person, always acknowledging me with a smile in his own quiet and thoughtful way. I remember he came over to me at Jennifer's wedding to offer me his condolences over the loss of my twin sister, Nicola, and unlike most, he then shared the memories he had of her in high school - we both laughed. I think this web site is a wonderful reflection of Michael's life and I have really enjoyed reading the comments of those who knew him and shared his life. He was truly loved and will always be remembered. My sincere condolences to Michael's family and friends.
Victoria, BC, Canada
I am the mother of Kasey, a beautiful, wonderful girl who was a significant part of Michael's life while he lived here in the Silicon Valley. I didn't really know Michael, met him only a couple of times but since his passing have thought of him tremedously. Why? I don't know. My heart is heavy with sorrow when I think of Michael's pain. On that day he passed, Kasey and I remembered seeing butterfies... She saw them at her bedroom window and sees them on occassion in clusters around her and thinks of Michael. She drives a car with a big blue butterfly on the window in memory of him. Michael was Kasey's first love, he made her very happy and she will never get over him and how he impacted her life. He was a wonderful person. God Bless.
When I saw the Robert Frost quote I was immediately reminded (and have often thought of Mike) when remembering this quote from S.E. Hinton's book The Outsiders - recquired reading in grade 8 or so. Johnny is in intensive care, having saved children from a burning church. his last words are to his best friend (who has bleached his hair as they are on the run) "Stay Golden Ponyboy, stay Golden". I feel that Mike is golden, as we all have fond recollections of his intelligence, wit, warmth and sense. Through shared memories of Mike, he will continue to stay golden and through his families' (particularly Paddys) warmth, openness and humility we should all be gently touched and strive to extend this branch in our future encounters with fellow humans so that Mike may stay golden- I think hed like that. My feelings and thoughts of Mike as they relate to his life intertwining with mine are many- all human- some flawed logic, some brilliant observation, very MIKE, very real. I love Mike for so many things he was, and how many situations we shared, but I think I really really appreciate his desire to make me see I had the ability to think and reason too. He took me to a lecture at UVIC when I was at an academic crossroads post high school wondering: is that all there is? He helped me w/ my first college paper 2 years later (when i was ready to see if that was indeed all there was)- he got me started in seeing the future as potential and not something owed to me. We also had so many fun times that I'll never forget- youd have to be there times- Family Night at Bobs etc. where we made Al run up the street in his ginch screaming "Jesus Bonehead gave my girlfriend crabs" and other initiations- Mike was there in awkward situations too, where als mom demanded all of his belongings because they were "hers" and Mike and I were smack dab in the middle of an unfair argument- Mike used his logic and ration to calm her down and see the way- she eventually went downstairs and waited for my mom- In the meantime Mike comforted Al by saying "if you need stuff, I have it" all the while simmering (as I was) and comforting Al.Mike just always knew "what time it was"- and I will choose to remember that instead of when he "left the clock". Peace be with u bro- Love Bobs In closing, go grab nature- a leaf or a would-be chestnut or whatever and hold it- look at its loss of potential for growth- and go plant something- Mike would like that (Hey Mikey!)
Dan "Bobs" Birrell
Victoria, BC, Canada
I had the pleasure of meeting Mike in grade 8 at Oak Bay Secondary School. We later attended UVIC at the same time. While Mike and I did not "hang out" a lot per se, we played soccer together at school and were in several classes together over the years. He is someone that I always enjoyed having chats with when our paths crossed in high school, at UVIC and at parties. Mike was always friendly, courteous and a genuinely nice guy. While many adolescents tend to cop attitude from time to time, Mike never did. He was always very real. I thoroughly enjoyed my interaction with Mike over the years and I was very saddened to hear of his passing. I wish his family my deepest condolonces.
Victoria, BC, Canada
What a wonderful tribute to a very special young man! I never had the privilege of knowing Michael. But I have known his mother since university and it is clear that he was very much like her in many ways. Thank you all for your insight and love. I wish so much that I had known him too. Peggy Paulson
Bragg Creek, Alberta, Canada
What a priviledge to be able to visit the site and rekindle some wonderful memories of Mike.
Those who we have lost live on in the memories of those who knew and love them. Paddy, you honour Michael through this site, you honour his memory and thus his life and you inspire us all.
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
I am so happy to see this site up. Since sending my comments to Paddy to add to the memories section many other thoughts have come from the recesses of my memory (I have know Mike since grade one); reading the other memories and seeing those old photos bring back more memories and tears. I miss you Mike, but you still live on through all of us. - Ken