Mike Perugini died unexpectedly last week at the age of 37. You may not know Mike, and I’m disappointed to say that I didn’t really either.
You see, I went to college with Mike and to say that we weren’t close is an understatement. The fact of the matter was that I was an insecure kid, and I wasn’t particularly nice to Mike. I would encounter him from time-to-time years removed from college and he still was apprehensive about everything I said and did, thinking that I was still the insecure jackass that I was a couple of decades before.
Except for those few moments, I don’t think Mike thought of me at all. He didn’t have to. He had a way of endearing himself to his friends and co-workers that made them truly love him. Throughout the years it’s always been remarkable to me how beloved Mike was. By driving a wedge between us and not repairing it, I missed out on the opportunity to know a truly great guy. Mike followed his heart and seemed to do everything that he wanted to do in life.
I say this as I see people letting politics or pettiness drive wedges between them and their friends (and even families). When you think about what drives us to treat someone badly or get into a spat, it’s always rooted in insecurity. With the benefit of hindsight, I wish I was a more self-aware person when I was 20 years old. I wouldn’t feel the regret that I did when I found out that Mike passed away. The self-awareness excuse only goes so far, though.
In the back of my mind I always hoped to run into Mike someday and tell him that I was sorry for being a jackass to him back when we were in college. It’s always been something that I’ve been ashamed of. For whatever reason be it pride or risk, I never made it a priority to do. The fact that his life was cut so short is a real tragedy, and its a reminder to me that there’s no time like the present to tell someone that you care or that you’re sorry.
Mike Perugini lived a life surrounded by people who adored him. You probably didn’t know him any better than me, but in his honor if you have a phone call that you’ve been putting off, or an apology that is long overdue I hope you’ll consider doing it.
If Paul McCartney was right to say that “in the end, the love you get is equal to the love you give,” then I have a lot of work to emulate the example of Mike Perugini. Rest in peace, Mike.