On his birthday, Michael Lynch’s family share joyful memories
Irondequoit, N.Y. (WHAM) - On May 8, 2017, green ribbons still hang in many places in Irondequoit to remember Michael Lynch.
May 8 would have been his 15th birthday.
Blue was actually Michael's favorite color, but green was chosen for the ribbons because it is the color symbolizing hope. Hope had become a common theme in the Lynch house since August when mom Bernadette began treatment for uterine cancer. A scan shortly before Michael's accident in March showed the cancer was still there.
"After I had that result, I was feeling a little sorry for myself and said, 'What's the point of that, that's not going to get you anywhere.,'" Bernadette said. "Instead it made me say, 'You know what.... there's no time like now. Let's focus on making memories with our kids and doing things with our kids that are important.'"
The family planned trips to Disney World and the Adirondacks. She bought tickets to a Broadway show (Dear Evan Hansen) next fall to take Michael to since theater was his passion.
One week before the accident, Bernadette had taken Michael out of school for a dentist appointment. He suggested a quick stop at Dunkin Donuts as a part of that errand. Instead, she took him to a diner where they sat and excitedly planned out their September trip to New York City for the play.
"Now looking back, I'm so glad I had that half hour of just him and I chatting away about something that we both loved," Bernadette said.
Theater dominated Michael's world. "One of the things I was going to do was surprise him with series tickets to RBTL for his birthday and I think I am going to go ahead and buy that anyway and go," she said. "And I'll buy two tickets and I'll take a different person with me every time because he would have wanted that."
So many of the pictures in the Lynch house are of Michael in productions at a local theater program called Stages. He started there in a summer camp in 4th grade.
"I remember picking him up after the first day and said 'How was it?,'" Bernadette said. "And he goes, 'I'm exhausted but I loved every minute.' And he never turned back," Bernadette said. "He loved it there. He had a great community of friends there, he really blossomed there, he got a lot of confidence."
Michael was part of roughly two dozen productions at Stages.
13WHAM's Jennifer Johnson asked Bernadette to pick her favorite picture of Michael and tell us about it. She chose a headshot from 2015 when he was in the Stages Production of 13 the Musical.
"This is the point where I feel like he was changing from a kid to more like a young adult, a teenager and just showing the growth and maturity in him in that picture," Bernadette said.
Michael was constantly checking on his friends. Bernadette remembers something Michael posted on social media on Valentine's Day and recited it, nearly verbatim, from memory.
"I had this post all ready to go about how Valentine's Day is a stupid made-up holiday because I'm not having a great day but that doesn't really matter because I can guarantee you that somebody out there loves you and if you don't know that text me and I'll tell you how much I love you," Bernadette said, choking up as she shared it. "And that's how he felt about his friends and that's how they felt about him."
The Lynch family plans to try and celebrate his life by eating his favorite pizza - a slice of pepperoni and sausage from 2 Ton Tony's in Irondequoit. The pizza is being renamed "Michael's Favorite" on the menu. The family will also bringing cookie cake to the cast and crew of the musical he was working on at Stages as they are preparing for a production soon, one Michael would have been a part of.
The picture his dad Pat chose came home with Michael shortly after his first day of kindergarten. Pat and Bernadette recall teachers saying how Michael would stay inside at recess so he could write stories. An old soul, they say, who knew so early on that he wanted to be a writer.
"So that picture, the look on his face, his first experience out in the world and taking it on," Pat said. "And just every time I look at that picture, it brings happy tears to my eyes," Pat said.
Pat loves that picture so much, he has posted it on Facebook on Michael's birthday every year for the past few years. He said he'll post it again on May 8.
A rock star and a dinosaur make up younger brother Brendan's favorite picture. It was Halloween 2006.
As they grew older and as Michael was drawn to theater, Brendan was drawn to sports. Halloween was their shared passion.
"Just until recently we would go trick or treating together, maybe with a friend or two of each," Brendan said. "We would go on Somershire (Drive) because it has the best decorations and the best candy."
The music on the piano in the Lynch home is where Michael left it. The sheet music for "One Day More" is on front. Opened sympathy cards overflow a box. A journal from Michael's fellow actors at Stages is front and center. So are Michael's words, turned into artwork by one of his many friends.
"Live life as best you can, treating others kindly and enjoying yourself because you've only got one," it reads.
The Lynch family hopes you will pay it forward in Michael's memory.