Michael Lee Wyskida, age 33, died on February 10, 2021.
While his death is tragic, it was not unexpected, or sudden. Michael battled drug addiction for more than 17 years. I wish we could say he died peacefully, surrounded by his friends and family, but he didn’t. He died, like so many others, driven by desperation, consumed by dependence, in turmoil, lost and alone. That is the reality of substance abuse – the reality of a life cut short senselessly. Michael’s battle is now over. He is healed and whole once again, free from the shackles that controlled him.
Writing an obituary for someone whose entire adult life was ravaged by drug addiction is challenging. How do you paint a picture of a life that was filled with anguish and shattered dreams?
Michael was supposed to grow up, get married, and have a family. He was supposed to be successful and make a difference in this world. He was supposed to grow old. But he didn’t. He did none of the things he aspired to do. None of the things his family assumed he would do. None of the things he was so capable of doing. Drugs took so much away from him and those who loved him.
Michael was born June 4, 1987, in Cortlandt Manor NY, to Michael and Charlene (Lee) Wyskida. He spent some time in Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania and in Rochester, NY but for the past several years was in Westchester County NY. He graduated from Walter Panas High School in 2005.
Michael grew up doing the things many kids did; playing video games, skate boarding, laughing, and just having fun. As a child he participated in various activities; soccer, baseball, cub scouts, etc…it wasn’t until he tried Taekwondo that he found his ‘motivation’. He spent 7 days a week practicing, training and absorbing the sport. It was his passion for many years. He obtained both his 1st degree and 2nd degree black belts and won 1st place in sparring competition at the National Jr Olympics; accomplishments he was always proud of. As a young teen he dreamed of one day going to the Olympics.
Michael loved music. He loved playing guitar. He loved chicken cutlets and bacon & egg sandwiches. He loved clowning around with his friends. He loved a good debate. He loved to read. He loved to write, and he loved to BE right. Michael was extremely intelligent, with quick wit. He was a deep thinker. He was sharp and articulate.
He loved a cup of coffee and a good conversation. Michael could have been anything he wanted. He could have been a valued medical researcher, a convincing lawyer, a profitable salesman or he could have been a successful business owner. Michael wanted to be a writer. He was a writer. But he aspired to be a ‘published’ writer. He had so much promise. So much potential. So much to offer this world and so much to accomplish. Unfortunately coping with life and the difficulties that comes with it, was not a skill he could ever seem to grasp and unfortunately once drugs got a hold of him they took total control, destroying his future.
Those that loved him always held onto hope that he would get ‘clean’ – that he would “get better” – that he would beat the odds and have the life we all believed he desired. He went to countless programs; he had countless opportunities; he had support from countless people who believed in him – countless people who gave selflessly to try and help him. But the addiction was far more powerful then the support and love anyone could give him.
We want him to be remembered as Michael; a son, grandson, brother, nephew, cousin, friend. The person who told the corniest jokes. The person who had the answer to any question. The person who was never at a loss for words. The person who was proud to follow in his fathers footsteps being able to fix anything you put in front of him. The person who accepted everyone unconditionally. The person who would have given his last dollar to someone with less than he had.
“Michael, we pray you have found the peace and happiness you could not find here on Earth”.
Michael is survived by his parents, his sister Kerri Wyskida, his maternal grandparents Charles and Francine Lee, his paternal grandmother Marion Wyskida. Aunts Brenda (Steve) Foster and Andrea (George) Keefe. Uncles Drew (Heidi) Wyskida, Tom (Stephanie) Wyskida, John (Lisa) Wyskida as well as many cousins. He is predeceased by his loving grandfather Thomas Wyskida Sr.
Our family pleads with everyone reading this to find compassion for the families who have been affected by drug addiction. Don’t judge; educate yourself. Educate others. No one aspires to live in homeless shelters, or on the streets. No one aspires to be hungry or to eat out of dumpsters. No one aspires to tear apart their family. Addiction does not discriminate. It can consume the strongest individuals.
If you’re struggling with addiction, please seek help. Don’t let it be too late. Take the first step to living.
A memorial service will be planned at a later date.
Memorial donations for Michael can be sent to the the Food Pantry in Verplanck, NY (via Let it Shine inc PO Box 818 Verplanck, NY 10596).
Here is one of the pieces Michael wrote while reaching for sobriety in April 2011. Maybe it will help someone else reach for a fresh start.
The Great Artist
I’ve been painting a portrait on a wall. There is a beautiful landscape on this wall. Its carved in stone, with talents well honed, this landscape by the Great Artist before me.
When I was a young child I painted the things I saw. I painted what my parents said. I painted fun games and young friends. They stood comfortably on the landscape by the Great Artist before me.
I got a bit older and painted learned things. I painted math, and science, and alphabet. I painted “don’t drink“ and “don’t smoke cigarettes”. They blended nicely in my painting, that I painted on the landscape by the Great Artist before me.
One day, in adolescence, I got a package in the mail. No name or note or return address. But nicely wrapped and handsomely dressed. In the box there was a carving tool, for taking stone from the wall with the landscape by the Great Artist before me.
So I started painting other things. I painted whims, desires and all the rest. I even painted some requests.
And when my painting made no sense, with this shiny new carving tool, I made some changes to the landscape by the Great Artist before me.
Now, after some time, I felt I could paint no more. I’d removed so much stone from the wall that I no longer had much of a picture at all. My painting had no background, for I’d ruined the landscape by the Great Artist before me.
When I looked upon this, I saw I was useless to paint more things.
Then, at my door, a loud knock. And behind it not a nameless box, but a Man like me, but not. I stood in awe at this moment, for it was none other than the Man of the landscape, the Great Artist before me.
He asked if I’d like to paint some new things. Paint some things I’ve never seen. Bring beauty to my painting, which I had rendered quite obscene.
So I asked how that could be without a landscape, I asked the Great Artist before me.
He said you’ll need some direction when you’re painting these new things.
But first, put in my hands that awful carving tool. That there, is the instrument of a fool. So I gave up my carving tool and watched (again in awe) as He cleaned my wall and carved me a new landscape. A beautiful landscape for a beautiful painting by the Great Artist before me.
O'MARA & CARPNTIERI FUNERAL HOME
Verplanck, New York 10596
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Michael Lee Wyskida, please visit our floral store.