On April 4th, 2003 my friend, Michael Campanelli, was killed in a plane crash.
He and five other people left New York and were scheduled to land in Bedford, MA, but they never made it. The plane nosedived into a building in the town of Leominster, MA. A 13 year old girl was the only survivor.
I met Mike in high school back in 1982 and we were instant friends. He was a gentle soul, without a malicious bone in his body, charismatic, and had an hysterically understated sense of humor. He never failed to make me laugh.
We both attended college together- well, at least until I dropped out- where we both met Eve, the girl who would later become my wife. After college we went our different ways but even when we’d lose touch- sometimes for a year or two at a time- we’d call each other and pick up where we left off, never missing a beat.
One day after not hearing from him for a while Mike called me to tell me he got married and he wanted me and Eve to meet his wife. We tried a few times to arrange a date but our schedules never seemed to agree.
Then, soon after I received an email from his wife saying that Michael died in a plane crash. I was stunned. It didn’t really hit me until days later.
When I arrived for the memorial service I saw a lovely young woman who was obviously grief stricken talking to someone, and though I had never seen her before, I knew this was Mike’s wife.
“Hi“, I said, offering my hand. “I’m a friend of Mike’s. My name is Steve.”
Her expression softened and I remember she took a little breath. She smiled. “So, you’re Steve“, she said.
Mike died ten years ago and I think of him all the time. In fact, he has a habit of showing up in my dreams from time to time. …I really miss him.
As for the crash, it was later reported that the pilot was found to have morphine and antidepressants in his system.
I never know how to feel about that.