The Miguel (Michael) Flores Story
Ambitious, hardworking, and warm-hearted all described my brother. Practical joker and always ready to lend a hand, he was always focused and he loved his family. On the early morning of Thanksgiving, November 22, 2007, a phone call from the hospital completely changed our lives. Drunk off duty police officer, John Ardelean, killed my brother. He was going approximately 60 mph on the wrong side of the street and collided with the vehicle that my brother and his best friends were in. My brother and his best friend died shortly after. My brother had gone out the night before with two of his best friends, Erick Lagunas and Reynaldo Barajas. Erick picked him up and never would I have imagined that would be the last time I would be able to say something to him, to hug him, or tell him how much I loved him. It still kills me inside to think that I could have tried to stop him from going out that night. If only I would have known. The accident occurred at about 2:49 a.m. on Thanksgiving, and Erick Lagunas, who was driving the car and my brother who was a passenger in the back seat, both died. Reynaldo had injuries to his shoulder and back.
At only 22 years, my brother was full of life, he loved sports, he loved having a good time with his friends and family and he loved his job. We were so proud of him. Early on after high school, he knew he wanted to work as a carpenter and get into the union, and he did. He could build anything he wanted, and he could climb up to the highest peaks, the sky was the limit. He was not afraid. He had so much joy for life and ambition.
There is not one day that goes by that I don't think about him. I still have all his things, just as he left them. Sometimes I want to close my eyes and open them and have him here with us. I want him to come back and see that all his things are just where he left them. I can't bear to put them away. Since he was never married and had no children, I don't know what else to hold on to. The pain inside is unbearable at times. I hate the fact that he won't be here to share happy moments with us. He left behind so many wonderful memories.
I try to be strong for my two little boys, because I know he wouldn't have wanted it any other way. They loved him. Their uncle was their role model. They wanted to be like he was, act like he acted, and always be around him. I don't know what was harder, seeing my brother wrapped in a white sheet, dead at the hospital or having to explain to my seven and four year olds that they would never get to see their uncle again. Their little frightened eyes and their little sad faces crushed my heart.
I try to be strong for my parents, but how do I console them, when I feel the same way? How do I tell my mother to stop crying for her son? I can't. Instead, I cry along with her, because it feels better. A piece of my family is missing, and a piece of my heart is gone.
As for John Ardelean, well, the law and State of Illinois failed us. The reality is that an individual sworn to protect and serve the people of Chicago committed a criminally hazardous act. Regardless of whether on or off duty, the roles of a police offer dictate that one strictly obeys and enforces the law. The fact that Officer Ardelean is an officer of this great city should not set him apart from following the laws he and his peers enforce.
But there is a God in heaven; whose verdicts are just and whose sentences are final. The reality is that no one can stand before Him and claim not to be guilty. I will never forgive Ardelean for being a coward and not paying for the consequences of his crime. I will forgive for anything else.
Michael, I love you so much. I MISS YOU! WE ALL MISS YOU! Words can't explain the pain that this has left behind and how it has changed our lives. Thank you for being such a great BROTHER. Thank you for understanding me and being my best friend. Thank you for ALWAYS being there for Mikey, Damian, and ME.
Everyday brings us closer, until we meet again.
JESUS said to them, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live." -JOHN 11:25