Tribute to Michal Friedman

Many of you know "Michal the Girl" as a musician, but her greatest dream was to be a mother.

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Michal Lura Friedman died on Nov. 25 due to complications after undergoing a caesarean section and giving birth to healthy twins, Jackson James and Reverie Vivian. In addition to her two children, Michal is survived by her husband, Jay Snyder; her parents, Kenneth Friedman and Sarah Lowe Meadows; her sisters, Lynn Friedman, Wendy Friedman, and Maitreya Rich, her nieces, Julia McKaig, and Violet Rich. Three generations of the Friedman family are dedicated members of Trungpa Rinpoche’s community of students, and Michal has been a close student of Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche’s for many years. Her death is a great loss to family, friends, and sangha.

Michal was an accomplished singer and composer. Her musical credits include the sound track to Travellers and Magicians, a film by Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche; two CDs: Strung Out and Tongue Tied, and many live shows in New York City where she performed as Michal the Girl. Michal was also the voice of several anime cartoon characters, including the Annalise in the new Speed Racer: The Next Generation. See imdb.com for a list of her voice acting credits.

Jay Snyder’s eulogy

There are no words. I have heard that phrase many times over the past few days from people earnestly trying to find some way of offering consolation and condolence. It’s true, no words can adequately describe the depth and magnitude of this loss, and no words can soften the pain and shock, or brutal unfairness. In a way it’s unfathomable. How can we speak to what we cannot understand— But we gather today not only because of what happened, but whom it happened to. Michal Lura Friedman. And there are many words for Michal.

Vibrant, Gifted, Generous, Kind, Fiery, Bold, Tenacious, Beautiful, Smart, Loyal, Honest, Strong, Singer, Song writer, Actor, Narrator, Colleague, Student, Friend, Cousin, Sister, Aunt, Niece, Daughter, Wife, and most important, most precious…Mother.

Over 9 years ago, around my second date with Michal the Girl she said “I want to get Married and have kids.” Years later she told me she had been deliberately blunt to see if it would scare me off. Fortunately, I knew better than to run from someone like Michal. Her clarity and directness were some of the many qualities I admired.

We actually tried to start making babies before getting married. Like most people, we started trying by stopping trying not to. But after almost a year without success, we realized we had to journey down a different path to have the children we wanted. It took over 5 years of resorting to various fertility treatments, from herbal teas to multiple IVFs before we finally found our way to Reverie and Jackson.

Few of us have the strength and determination to suffer through so much disappointment and despair, or the courage to defy so much defeat to achieve our dream. Reverie means to dream, to pleasantly daydream. That name actually came to Michal in a dream where she met her daughter, who introduced herself by that name. Michal was 19 then…25 years later that dream is real. I like to think of Jackson as a bonus prize for perseverance.

There are no words for other things, too. Like the love Michal gave me. Immense, pure, intoxicating, incessant, playful…those kind of come close. I have never been given so much love, so generously, so eagerly. She gave me a pocket watch for one of my birthdays. Engraved on it…”I love you all the time.” I can still feel it, as strongly as I can feel the love for Michal from everyone here.

There are also no words for the beauty of the children she bore. Less than a week old, they’ve touched many people’s hearts, and they’ve only just begun. Neither can any words describe the outpouring of sympathy, love, and support that so many are offering me, and the children. Some from people who knew Michal and I well, others that didn’t know us at all, but who simply want to provide some compassion to help ease the devastation from a viscous twist of fate. And the words “Thank you” do not begin to express how grateful I am for it.

Everyone asks me what can they do to help, and I’m often at a loss, not yet knowing what my family’s needs are. But one thing became clear a couple days ago. Sunday I held Jack and Rev to my chest and told them the story of how Michal and I met. The next day I intended to tell them another story about us, but realized our story mostly consists of the un-extraordinary routine of life only made special by feeling fortunate to do it together. For instance “Once upon a time Daddy came home from work and Michal said, “How about some Thai Food—” And that night Thai food was eaten…but it was really cool because we loved each other!” or “There came a day when Mommy and I saw the movie “Due Date”, which wasn’t that good…but it was an awesome time because we both felt we hit the marriage jackpot!”

So many of you have helped our family with such profound generosity and sincerity. But perhaps one of the most meaningful gifts to Michal’s and my children would be telling me your stories of Michal so I can share them with our kids, that she gave everything to have. They’ll know her through her music, which I play them, her voice work, her pictures and videos, which I will also share. But I realized Michal gave us all wonderful stories to give to Reverie and Jackson, and I want the kids to know not only who she was to me, but to so many others.

Another phrase I heard a lot these past few days is “Thank you for all you’re doing to help.” That one is coming from me, said to Michal’s and my friends, family, colleagues, the nurses and doctors who grieve for her as well, and everyone affected by this tragedy. I don’t know exactly how I’m going to move our family forward, but I know I won’t have to do it alone.

When someone you cherish dies, people often assume the relationship is over. But those who have experienced loss before know it goes on. You think of them every day. More than think, feel them. Though you can’t have new experiences with them, the ones you’ve had still live in you and take on new meaning over time. And they’ve made their mark on you, you will never be who you were without them.

That Michal has died, and particularly the way she died, feels incredibly cruel. Those closest to her, those who cared for her most, and supported her on her struggle toward motherhood, or simply admired her for it, have a long road ahead to letting the outrage and sorrow go. We must eventually accept that life makes no promises, as much as we might wish it would.

But ultimately life is a blessing and it’s up to us to decide what to do with it. In her life, Michal chose to bless us with two beautiful children. Michal herself was a blessing in my life, and will continue to be through our family. I had almost ten years with a woman that redefined what it was to love and to fight for what you love. And while we all may feel cheated, I am grateful I had the chance to be her boyfriend, her husband, the guy she was most happy to see, the one who knew best how to make her happy, and experience the joy of how happy that made me. Best of all, I got to be the father of her children, and I still get to love her for the rest of my life.

For that gift, there are no words.

From thesnydertwins.com

…For those of you who never met her, Michal was a beautiful, talented woman who was thrilled to be pregnant with her first children. Many of you know “Michal the Girl” as a musician, but her greatest dream was to be a mother.

For seven long years she and her husband, Jay Snyder, tried to make this dream come true. Michal was widely loved, and in particular has left behind many friends in her Buddhist and music and voice communities.

Message Machine by Michal Friedman performed by friends Chris, Cresta and Ken during the Sukhavati ceremony at the New York Shambhala Center

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