Saturday, March 9, 2013
It was from Mike Yasick, of course, head of Specialty Pharma at Shire—one of the only people on this planet who regularly addressed me with that kind of jazz. He was like that, Mike Yasick. He was light. He was a serious guy, sure, a well-read guy, a guy who loved his family and a guy who loved his job. But he was also a guy who made us laugh.
"Hey," he said, last time we were talking on the phone. "You want to see how dumb I look in bright red pants?"
"Sure, Yasick," I said.
"Check your in-box," he said.
And that, above, was the picture he sent.
Mike Yasick knew what it was to live a life. He knew that the clock was ticking on his own—that he had inherited a difficult disease, that it could flare at any time, that his own father and brothers had been taken too soon. He wanted to live fully—and he so absolutely did. Taking his wife around the world to celebrate her birthday in style. Sending colorful notes to friends during his Vietnam travels. Watching one daughter dance, another daughter take her first huge job, a son prepare a favorite meal with chef-like precision. Not just watching. Watching is the wrong word. Mike Yasick appreciated every single second of those he loved. He appreciated his life, and when you were with him, when you thought of him, when he showed up at your birthday party and said, "I love your Dad, he reminds me of my own," you appreciated your own life even more.
I talked to Mike because I wrote stories for Mike—that's what I do for Shire. He'd joke that I never gave him enough ink. "Don't you want to use my picture?" he'd say, stopping me in the halls. "Don't you want to quote me on something? Aren't I important? Don't you think I am?" I'd indulge him when I could. But mostly I'd just stop to talk, or he'd email me, or he, on occasion, would call. "You in?" he'd write, and I'd say, "Sure, Yasick, I'm in." And then the phone would ring and he'd make me laugh, but he'd make me think as well.
Not long ago—maybe nine months ago—the conversation grew serious. He was worrying about work things. He was pondering this condition of his. He was saying how much he loved his wife and family, how much he wanted to beat the odds of his genetic inheritance and stick around for a long time. "Don't you go anywhere on us, Yasick," I said. And he said, "I think you're going have to deal with me for at least a while more."
I wanted a lot more while. We all wanted a lot more. I mourn the loss of Mike deeply. I mourn for his wife and children and family and fishing friends and thousands of colleagues at Shire. He left an impression. He made a difference. I'll hear his laugh in my head a long time on, will miss him asking what books I'm reading, will miss him saying, "You've become someone, haven't you?"
Am I superb? Not today, Mike. Not with this news. But I know the sun is shining right now because you're up there in the skies.