I hardly know how to express how terrible it was to lose my friend, Mike Apyshkov, this last weekend. Some of the light went out of the sky for me when I received the news that he had fallen to his death from the top of one of Kyiv’s tallest and trendiest skyscrapers in Ukraine, at the Olympic business center (Олимпийский).
To say that Mike was one of my friends seems to understate what he was to me. Certainly he was a friend, but it was deeper than “just a friend”. He was an inspiration to me, a protégé, a roommate, an adoptive son, a colleague, a collaborator, and a sort of a muse. I feel it all the more intensely because he has left as abruptly as he came into my life, and at far too young an age: 26 years old.
I’m unable to attend Mike’s funeral this week in Ukraine, and so I’ll write a bit about him here on my blog as a tribute and as a means of mourning him. Word of his passing has left me raw, and weak, and it seems some of the air has gone out of my lungs and I cannot regain it, no matter how much I inhale. I also set up an online memorial site at: Mike Aphyskov: Forever Missed.
How I Came To Know Mike Apyshkov
I met Mike through another good friend of mine — his father. Vlad worked with me when we were both at Verizon’s Superpages, and we became good friends after I left the company in 2007. In about 2011, Vlad notified a number of his friends that he was delighted by the fact that his son, Mike, was moving here to Dallas to live with Vlad and to go through the process of becoming a U.S. citizen. I don’t precisely remember that first meeting, but it was probably at some restaurant for dinner. I didn’t have much interaction with Mike until a few months later when Vlad had to leave the country for some weeks on business, and he asked me to be available in case Mike needed help with anything while Vlad was away, since Mike was unfamiliar with the city and with the American ways of doing things.
When I realized that Mike was going to be all alone at Vlad’s house for the last few weeks of November, I immediately felt that he absolutely had to experience a traditional American Thanksgiving. My mother, who lives down in central Texas, readily agreed — in fact, bringing in foreigners for our Thanksgiving feast is a very long tradition in our family, and it likely started because my parents were professors and we lived in academic communities where there were always people who were far away from their homes during the holidays. I was going to my mother’s place a few days early, and planned to work from my father’s old home office before Thanksgiving day. Mike agreed to go with me early, and he worked on his computer from the office as well. (more…)