Mike Lueth was a classmate of mine at Lake Park High School in the Chicago suburb of Roselle. As with all of the kids I knew growing up, I had no contact with Mike for over 40 years until we re-connected a few years ago through my writings. Mike has some amazing stories-experiences of his own that we’ve shared on our website including Trust Me, Michael. He also provides me with valuable insights and encouragement with my writings.
In the Sax Man chapter of Suffering Is the Only Honest Work, I wrote about my high school band, the Whatzit Fore + One, and my bandmates Roger Holmes, Wayne Paney, Mike Sims and Greg DeBruyne. Looking back, I can’t believe a band of teenagers would have “Zit” in its name.
L to R: Mike Sims, Casey, Roger Holmes,
Greg DeBruyne and Wayne Paney
After reading our book, Mike Lueth reached out to let me know that, sadly, two of my bandmates were no longer with us. Greg was electrocuted in the early 1980s trimming trees around his house and Mike Sims, our lead guitarist and Mike Lueth’s best friend, had taken his life in 1986.
Mike shared this story after reading The Light We Cannot See post.
As you know Mike Sims was my best friend (and vice versa). About two weeks after his funeral I was driving north down Rt. 31 between Carpentersville and Algonquin and he was the only thing I was thinking about – constantly on my mind; many questions about why he took his life, memories of good times together, the whole deal. I see I am coming up on a hitchhiker and slow down to get a closer look and maybe offer a ride. As I get close enough to see a face, I see it is Mike. I pull over immediately (from 50 mph), put the gear lever in reverse, and turn my head around to steer backwards. But he was gone. No one was there – it wasn’t a case of a mistaken identity. No one was there. It would not have been possible for someone else to have stopped and offered a ride; there wasn’t time for that. And nowhere to run to – just open farm fields. So, perhaps my focused attention on him made him appear from some parallel universe. Was some sort of Venn Diagram intersection at play? It was similar to your wife spotting Jimmy in Paris, if I’m remembering correctly. Such a limited world we live in.
Mike’s memory was spot on. We opened Suffering with Hilary’s and my sister Laura’s simultaneous sighting of Jimmy crossing the street in front of the Café les Deux Magots in Paris in May of 2009—nine months after Jimmy died. This story is also on our website with lots of photographs. A Moment in Paris
How do these things happen? What forces are at work that enable us to see things that shouldn’t be possible? I suppose with Mike thinking so hard about his best pal, he could imagine Mike Sims’ face on the hitchhiker. But when he turns around to go back, he’s disappeared.
The same could be said for Hilary. She was missing Jimmy so much that she desperately wanted to see him—to be with him. But for Hilary and my sister to see him at the same time? I don’t know how to rationalize that away. Rather, I believe these things actually do happen and with some regularity.
Mike- thank you so much for letting us share your beautiful story.