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A Trip That Healed Grief's Wounds

Guest Column Jennifer Grewen

On Friday, Oct. 31, the loss of Michele S. Micheletti '00 struck the MIT community. It especially struck all those who in one way or another knew Michele and were touched by the love she spread to those around her. This love - which saw no color, race, or difference - was a never-ending fountain of happiness, inspiration, and joy, which we were blessed to have known. Losing her was very painful and difficult for many of us to handle. However, the MIT administration was a powerful and effective force which provided strength, leadership, and guidance for all of us. We wish to thank the Dean's Office, the Counseling Department, the MIT Chaplain's Office, and President Charles M. Vest. They all worked together to provide a solid foundation for those of us affected by the passing of Michele.

It was on Oct. 31 that Michele passed away, Nov. 1, when the news spread, and Nov. 4 when a group composed of 26 students, two faculty members, and a floor tutor boarded an airplane heading to San Francisco to attend Michele's funeral services. While there, we attended Michele's wake, went to a Rosary service at St. Dunstan's Parish where Michele spent her elementary school years, and attended her funeral and burial services.

At every moment, we felt like we were part of Michele's family, sharing our thoughts, grief, prayers, stories, and laughter with family members and friends. Michele's mother said that one of Michele's goals had been accomplished with our presence: Michele had managed to bring the East Coast to the West Coast.

Our visit was incredible meaningful to all of us. When you love somebody, and that person leaves you, the pain of their absence is like an open wound. For us, the process of healing this wound began when we arrived in California. Michele's family was not only happy to see us, but they were filled with joy to see how many lives Michele had touched in such a short time.

One of Michele's favorite phrases was "mi amore," because that was exactly what she felt and expressed to those around her. She was the pride and joy of those who knew her, an exceptional person filled with qualities which many of us can only dream of. As Oscar Wilde once said, "To live is very rare. Most people exist, that is all." Michele not only existed, she lived and she helped others to live. She taught us the lessons of love without barriers and giving unselfishly of oneself.

The opportunity to travel to California granted us the chance to communicate our feelings and love to Michele's family and to begin to lift the veil of sadness which had covered us. Words of comfort from Michele's family and church began to ease our hearts' pain over her loss. We saw the tremendous accomplishments which Michele had achieved before she arrived at MIT. We realized that Michele had lived a fuller life in nineteen years than some people can live in a hundred.

We wish to express sincere gratitude to Dean Robert M. Randolph and everyone who worked with him to make our trip possible. The generosity and caring he showed us are far above and beyond what was expected. This trip has touched all our lives.

The Tech received this column as a letter on behalf of 22 students: Ricci H. Rivera '00, Rosanna A. Alegado '00, Shelby J. Savage '99, William J. Melendez Diaz '99, Samuel T. Wong '01, Baruch P. Feldman '01, Jacquelyn L. Baskin '00, David R. Dunmeyer '00, Ana K. Claudio '99, Jennifer T. Grewen '99, Charles I. Morton G, Anjli Chokriwala '00, Susan E. Rosenthal '00, Alberto J. Cividanes '00, Allison L. Waingold '00, Danielle A. Hinton '00, Jomaquai Jenkins, Kareem A. Benjamin G, Marcus W. Baynes '00, Deborah Cheng '01, Heileen Hsu '01, Anna Orenstein-Cardona '99, and Aleksandra Markina '99, Shawn E. Atlow '97, Xilonin Cruz.