MILWAUKEE — "Butterflies and Lakefront" was the theme of a gathering at Veterans Park on Milwaukee's lakefront. It paid tribute to the life of Milwaukee Police Officer Michael Michalski.
He was shot and killed one year ago Thursday, serving a warrant. His wife Susan Michalski remembered her fallen hero of 18 years.
"I think for a long time I was in shock," Susan said.
"A lot of the things I did was just keeping myself busy," she said, trying to cope with her loss.
Family, friends and officers were on hand to honor Michalski, a man who loved nature, his job and family.
"I think some of the best moments we've ever had are things that really didn't have a lot to do with money. In the winter, it would be hot coffee. In the summer, it would be cold coffee, but it would just be a place where you could be together," Susan said.
She added, "Some time I (would) ask Mike, what he'd be doing today. He would be walking our dog at Sheridan Park, and sometimes he'd say, 'Let's go fly a kite.' "
A blue sky served as a canvas as the butterfly kites soared. It was a reminder of an ominous photo taken the day of his funeral, when a butterfly rested on an officer's gun.
"I feel like I can get through anything now." — Susan Michalski, whose husband was killed in the line of duty a year ago
He was killed one year ago Thursday. "That day is very vivid in my mind. ... Your life just falls apart before your eyes," Susan said.
But on this day, hugs are to healing like wind is to a kite. Susan shared a bittersweet lesson we all should heed. "Love the people around you and give them hugs every day," said Susan.
Listening to Susan, you are reminded that memories cannot be murdered, and sadness can give rise to strength.
"I feel like I can get through anything now," Susan said.