Someone pointed out to me that Mikey Butler’s first yahrtzeit was about this time — 3 Shevat was Jan. 13 this year (he passed away on Jan. 26, 2004). He was, according to his doctors, not supposed to survive infancy. The remainder of his twenty-four years were miracles.
Mikey had cystic fibrosis — a genetic ailment that kept him on large doses of medications, hooked to an oxygen tank, and which eventually led to his untimely passing. Yet with these limitations, he accomplished and grew in ways that those without such restrictions could envy.
Personally, I only met him a few times — always with oxygen in tow. But he was happy, vibrant, and giving. Except for that narrow oxygen line, you didn’t get the impression that he was carrying a fatal condition. To the contrary, he gave off life. He had a love of other people and a love of G-d that was obvious and quickly shared. And others recognized it — not only did he attend Yeshiva University and pursue his Torah studies while gaining his degree, he became Vice President of the Student Council. He was active in NCSY, and gave motivational talks to Jewish youth.
Jonathan Rosenblum wrote more about him, in an essay called Mikey’s Song. May Mikey be remembered for a blessing.
I met Mikey at a shabbaton in Cleveland a couple of years ago. It is hard to express the inspiration that Mikey gave to all of us. He was able to see the positive side of everything. He was a living example of Gam Zu Letovah.