August 20, 2015

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Tribute to Mike - Two year memorial

Today, I ask all of you to feel the joy and beauty of Mike’s boundless spirit as I write this brief two-year memorial for him. For those of you who do not know, Mike was my soulmate, my confident, my partner in crime, my best friend and the co-founder of HellasFrappe. He died on August 20th, 2013 after suffering from pancreatic cancer. I hope that by sharing this private moment in my life you are all able to take wisdom from it for I really believe that God intended that this be a teachable moment.

Every time I think I have worked through the various stages of grief, I suddenly find myself at square one. I still feel his presence morning, noon and night and sometimes I even feel his hand on my shoulder when I am at my worst. I still have a hard time accepting he is gone, I still cannot accept the stillness in my home and the sorrow in my heart but clearly I have moved forward.

Why? Because his fight with cancer taught me that if we are living simply for status, money, fame, then none of these things go out with us when we leave this world. Our riches will be left in the bank, our fame will hang on a wall or will be forgotten and our status will not impress the Lord.

Another thing he taught me is that there is true beauty in the written word. When those silent prayers to our loved ones aren’t enough, putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboards in my case) can be quite soothing to the soul.

Today, two years after his death, I choose to continue the positives that he and I began together. My primary direction, however, is to add more meaning and purpose to my life because I know this is what he would have wanted for me. This includes selecting a specialty, continuing to write, broadening HellasFrappe, reconnecting with my family in more mutually fulfilling ways, and deepening my religious faith and outreach.

I also finally realized that those we love continue with us throughout our lives! They are never more than a thought away. Many advise me to leave behind the life Mike and I once shared together so that I can move forward, but I continually tell them that we never heal from leaving someone we loved behind, but rather only heal from bringing them with us.

Truth has become ever so clear to me especially with regard to what really matters in our lives, especially when we are brushed by death’s wing. All I know is that each and everyone of us is put here on this earth to learn, share, love, appreciate and give to others. None of us know when this fantastic journey will end. It can be taken away at any moment. Perhaps this is a way of telling us that we must make the most out of every single day.

So my advice to all of you Frappers is to find something beautiful to notice. It doesn't have to be something you see, touch, smell or taste, it could be as simple as the sound of the wind or the way the morning light catches the flowers in your garden. The important thing is to look for these things, and cherish them because it is these very things that are often unnoticed.

Will I ever get over the sadness of his death, probably not, but I will learn to keep moving forward allowing time to do its healing. Indeed, the scars will remain in my heart, but they are a gentle reminder of the good things that we both shared with one another.

I am humbled by the compassion, and multitude of messages that I have received over the past two years from people all over the world over his death. Thank you all, each and everyone, for your prayers and for allowing me to make Mike shine the way he deserved to shine. I want to also thank you all for allowing me to share such a personal experience publicly, and hope that it inspires all of you to stop and selflessly share a memorable moment with your loved ones before its too late.

Marina Spanos

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