We Survived the Storm, but Lost a Dear Friend: Remembering Mike Theis
While Nick and I (and 900,000 Louisiana residents) were busy whining about the sweltering heat that slowly melted us all into salty puddles after Hurricane Isaac left us without electricity for six days, a real tragedy was taking place unbeknownst to us.
Last month, New Orleans television personality, columnist, reporter, local celebrity, and living legend Mike Theis fell down just a few stairs and critically injured his spinal chord, robbing him of his ability to walk along with much of the sensation in his body. It made no sense. It was terrible.
While in the hospital, Mike unfortunately developed pneumonia. Before we even had a chance to visit him once the storm passed, he was gone.
Mike was only 55 years old. Again, it makes no sense, and it’s so, so terrible. Our hearts are broken.
The power is back on in most of New Orleans today, but there’s no mistaking that our city has lost one of its brightest lights.
When I returned to New Orleans earlier this year after a seven year post-Katrina exile, Mike was the very first friend I made. He adopted my partner Nick and I under his wing, and declared himself our social secretary. And boy oh boy did he live up to the title! I had the absolute pleasure of joining Mike for fundraisers, concerts, dinners, a night at the ballet, and all sorts of philanthropic pools that he had a toe or two in.
Spending Easter with Mike, his longtime friend Robert, my partner Nick and his sister Liz earlier this year will be forever remembered as one of the very best days of my life.
When people ask me what I do for a living, I like to joke that I’m the shepherd of an enormous gay flock. Well, Mike was the one who shepherded the shepherds of this world.
Mike, we love you. This Chardonnay goes out to you, darlin.