Michael Stephen Tetor died on Monday, May 25, 2020 at the age of 29 after years of struggling with mental illness and addiction.
Mike is survived by his sister, Shellie Vandersluis, and his nephews, Luke and Noah. He also leaves behind many family members, friends, and people who came to know and love him over the years.
Mike was born to parents William and Jane Tetor on November 1, 1990 in Tampa, Florida. His mother went into labor while watching an episode of The Simpsons. Mike later came to love the show and it was his favorite thing to watch each week.
As a young child, he was always smiling and laughing and he loved to be surprised. He was energetic and made friends easily. He liked to make people smile. He believed there were two main food groups… chicken nuggets and pizza. In fact, one of the few ways to get him to eat vegetables was to put them on top of some pizza-type creation. His mother didn’t mind, she liked making unusual meal concoctions that he would be willing to try. He didn’t have much of a sweet tooth, but loved chocolate oranges.
As a pre-teen, Mike developed a love of art and a skill for storytelling. He would draw the most fascinating pictures, the kind you could look at over and over again and see something new each time you looked. His mind was brilliant and he could create an entire universe with his ability to imagine and dream up new possibilities. They were the kinds of stories you’d hope you could be a character of, the kind of worlds that seemed like they could be real. Maybe if his life had gone differently, he would have become an artist, or a novelist, or surprised us by inventing something no one had thought of before.
Mike’s mother was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2002. She worked hard to be strong for her son. When she died in 2005, Mike was devastated. The grief was then compounded by his father’s diagnosis of pancreatic cancer just months later. While trying to work through the grief of his mother’s death, he had to face the fact that his father would soon die as well. His dad tried to spend as much quality time with Mike as he was able. His father died in 2007.
Many family members and friends stepped in to try to help Mike grieve and move forward but the pain and depression that he felt was too overwhelming and he looked to drugs for relief. He quickly became addicted to using them as an escape from reality. This struggle continued for years. He tried many times to get and stay sober. He went to multiple treatment centers and tried many different programs. He would be able to maintain sobriety for a while, only to eventually relapse again.
In lieu of flowers, please be kind to others when and where you can. Reach out for help if you’re the one in need. Don’t be afraid or ashamed to ask for help. More people love you than you know.
Celebrations of Michael’s life will be ongoing as he did not wish to have a traditional memorial service or funeral. Mike’s story does not end with his death. He chose to register as an organ donor and in doing so was able to save the lives of others. He would want to be remembered for his gifts, and for all the wonderful workings of his mind.