“Everyone has oceans to fly, if they have the heart to do it.
Is it reckless, maybe, but what do dreams know of boundaries?”
~Amelia Earhart

Michele, now eighteen years old, made a big decision in her life, she decided to leave her family in France and move halfway around the world to Utah. She wanted to be around more LDS members and felt in her heart it was the right decision. Hours and hours later she landed in Salt Lake City, Utah. What now?

Michele met several people after first arriving into Utah. There was one man she immediately was not fond of, his name was John Green. His feelings toward her weren’t far off her own, he thought she was a “spoiled brat” as he later told her. As John and Michele always seemed to be in the same circle of friends, one day things changed. As the two were participating in a Quartet, Michele feared how her voice was sounding. John made her a deal and said “Every time you go off key, I’ll squeeze your hand.” Michele smirked as she said to me. “The rest is history.”

            John did more than keep Michele on key, he taught Michele to forgive—truly forgive. Life was good with John. He was the smartest man Michele had ever met. He spoke seven different languages. “He was brilliant.” Michele repeated.

Together John and Michele had 9 children and raised their family in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Life was good. Raising their children, working, and going to church didn’t come without challenges, but they constantly thanked Heavenly Father for what they were given.

A call came out of nowhere and Michele didn’t know if she would ever smile again. On the other end of the phone a policeman spoke to John, the words spoken were as if from a nightmare. “Your son was killed in a car accident.” Michele was in shock. Her life crumbled. Her son Jeffrey Paul was killed by a 14-year-old boy. This boy did not have a license to drive, but he made the choice to take his parents car out. Outside was cold and Christmas was near, but it wouldn’t be the same without Jeffrey.

It was Christmas Eve and there was so much to do, but Michele couldn’t stop thinking about her son. How could they celebrate without him? Everything seemed to be in a haze. John told her that she needed to go to bed. He would take care of everything and wake her Christmas morning when the kids woke up.
Michele closed her eyes and almost instantly she fell asleep, but she wasn’t asleep she was with her son. Finally, she could see him again. Her family was there with her and he told them that he had gifts for every one of them. One by one Jeffrey gave each of her kids a gift. He gave John a gift too. Everyone was gone and it was just Michele and her son Jeffrey. He had no gift for her. “You said that you had a gift for everyone, but where is my gift?” Michele questioned him. There is something I want to show you. This is my gift. Almost magically a scrapbook appeared on his lap. Jeffrey opened it up and page by page he showed her pictures. “This is where I’ve been.” Page by page he showed Michele beautiful scenes of gardens, and waterfalls. He was happy and smiling and he looked at his mom and said, “I’m happy.”  Suddenly there was a noise and Michele woke up. Her husband came in to tell her it was time to celebrate Christmas with their kids. She said that she wasn’t ready to wake up yet, but it was the best gift she could have been given. She saw her son and she felt so much better.

Even after her dream Michele still missed her son. She was not the same and she struggled so much. One day her husband told her that he needed to take her somewhere. She didn’t want to leave her home or her other kids, but with the help of family who stayed with the kids he insisted. They began driving and Michele was so confused as to where they were going. Finally, after a while she asked John, “Where are you taking me?” She did not like the answer. “We are going to the boy’s house who killed our son.” “No! I can’t I can’t see him.” John interrupted and explained. “Michele, can you imagine being his parents? Can you imagine how that boy feels? I would rather be the parents of the son who was killed than the parents of the boy who killed someone else. Imagine his guilt and pain.” Suddenly warmth came over Michele. She understood. She couldn’t imagine how they must be feeling. She agreed. As they talked with that young boy and his parents they were able to let him know that they forgave him. The forgiveness helped Michele’s heart warm too. She felt a comfort that she was unable to find before.

“If you are losing faith in human nature go out
and watch a marathon.”
~Katherine Switzer

Michele never talked about her past much, John had a general idea of what happened, but she never gave many details. She thought she had to be strong and move on. Night after night Michele would wake to nightmares, and flashbacks. She would sit in the living room and cry. One night, John wouldn’t take no for an answer and he told Michele that she needed to open up so he could help her. Together they wrote her story and it was published in the church’s Ensign Magazine in April 1977.

Michele felt a freedom she had never felt before. Sharing her story was scary, but she realized that by her allowing herself to be open she could more honestly forgive those that hurt her. It changed her life. Her experiences throughout the years and losing her son were such difficult events, but she has learned that those trials of faith have shaped her, and made her the person she is. Not only the hardships, but she has seen so many blessings in her life as well. “I’ve had so many wonderful experiences, I cannot deny my blessings. I was taught to be positive and be happy.”

In 1980 after 25 years of marriage John suffered a severe stroke. Michele and John still had young children at home and it was devastating. Michele didn’t know if he would make it. John lost all seven of his languages that he knew. He worked so hard his whole life, and to lose everything he knew was heartbreaking for Michele to watch. Doctors told Michele that he needed to take things slow and John was able to regain English back, but never another language.

John passed away in 2001, Michele has enjoyed time with her eight living children. Michele served a mission from 2005 to 2007 in Fiji.

I found myself so emotional sitting with Michele. Tears found their way on my face often during our meetings. Michele is one of the bravest and most spiritual people I have ever met, and I am honored to have had the opportunity to sit with her and hear her story in her home. “I’ve had so many experiences, I cannot deny my blessings taught to me to be more positive and be happy.” Michele teaches young Primary children at her church on Sundays and she said that she always reminds them to “Build your life upon the Savior.”

“I cling to them, because I still believe, in spite of everything,
that people are truly good at heart.”

~Anne Frank