The sad, inevitable news came this weekend that Michelle Stewart, who had bravely endured so many health problems for so many years, had breathed her last. All those close to her, and there were many, knew it was coming, and Michelle knew it was coming. So the news was not a shock. But it cast a pall, nevertheless. I first knew Michelle only over the phone and through countless emails, as she endeavoured to get me information in her role as chief communications person for the health ministry. No one knew a department better than Michelle. She was special. I felt a real attachment to her. And I dare to think it was reciprocated, perhaps because, while we were two professionals doing different jobs, we knew that each of us cared passionately about the state of B.C.’s health care system. Of course, as I got to know her better after she “retired”, I realized just how much more there was to Michelle as a person, away from her job. Below, I’ve included some words of remembrance that I posted on Facebook, an excellent piece about Michelle by Amy Smart in the Victoria Times-Colonist, a really fine tribute by Darwin Sauer who knew her very well, and the link to Michelle’s amazing blog, which, with incredible candour, recounted her struggles with eating disorders and end-stage renal failure. The blog includes heart-rending words from Michelle that she wrote to be posted after her death.
From my Facebook page: “I’m not sure there ever was a better, more courageous, more caring, more alive person than Michelle Stewart. She was also the best communications person I ever dealt with in all my years dealing with government flacks. She was never a flack. She was smart, she was comprehensive in her knowledge, and she got you the information, with no spin or bullshit, while also articulating the health ministry’s point of view. If you are new to Michelle Stewart, who was never in the limelight, read her blog. It will astonish you. Dear Michelle, please rest in peace, and I am sure you do.”
From the Times-Colonist: http://www.timescolonist.com/news/local/blogger-michelle-stewart-s-fight-against-illness-inspired-others-1.1065871
From Darwin Sauer: http://inmemoriamofmichelle.blogspot.ca
And Michelle’s moving blog: http://bessiamabloggernow.blogspot.ca/