The independent news organization of Duke University

Letter to the editor

remembering mike doherty

In the recent days, we have been blessed with hundreds of heartfelt messages from Michael’s family and friends. Their words have touched on so many facets of Michael’s brilliance as a human being: his sweetness, his intelligence, his athletic prowess, his contagious joy, among so many others. To all of who have publicly shared these messages, I wanted to start off by thanking you. While we often write to cope with our own feelings, our message can blossom to impact the people around us. Your message has been heard by me, and all of us who have suffered from this tragedy, and your message has helped ensure Michael lives on through us. Thank you. Here are some of my own thoughts with the hope that they provide similar support to all those whose lives were touched by Mike.

Michael had a youthful face, seemingly forever caught in a blushed smiled. It invited a dash of innocence, just enough so that you could watch peoples’ eyes when they first him and see them instantly become at ease with his presence. After initially meeting Mike, he would often not say much to you. But once you reached a sense familiarity with him, you opened yourself to a world of endless joy. I can confidently say I never interacted with Mike without feeling his warmth and his bliss. He could walk into a room visibly dejected after a tough test or a hockey loss, and, as long as we got him to crack just a little bit of a smile, the mood of everybody else around him would improve. Never have I met someone else with that unique ability to inspire happiness so effortlessly. It was an absolutely remarkable trait and something I, and so many others, will miss dearly.

I always thought Mike’s radiant positivity made a lot of us secretly protective of him. He really was the best of us and, deep down, we knew that. We were so honored to be his friend that we intrinsically always feared what life would be like without him. As I have come to see that fear turn into a reality, and as I have come to recognize how fragile our world can turn out to be, I am left searching for answers for how to adapt to life without Mike. I know nobody can replace what he was able to bring to me every day. I will have to come to accept that. I know I can never express to others, through my spoken words or through written letters, how great of a guy he really was. I will have to come to accept that too. What I can do though is encourage all who knew Mike or have learned of his story to dedicate themselves to looking within and finding a way to lead a life that is principled on bringing joy to others. It is not an easy task and we are all certainty not as gifted as Michael in doing so. Furthermore, this could initially appear as too vague a recommendation to guide a change in your behavior. Yet, if you knew Mike, I simply invite you to look back at your memories with him and watch the many ways he made you smile. If you did not know Mike personally, I invite you to read as many reflections of his loss as you can to gather an idea of the impact one can have. Then, we can all take a step forward, while at the same time forever honor the beloved past, and be a little bit more like Michael.

I miss you Dohboy and I will never forget you.

Isaac Nicchitta is a rising junior in the Trinity College of Arts and Sciences. If you would like to submit a letter to the editor to remember Michael Doherty, please submit it to and include your name and affiliation with Duke.


Share and discuss “Letter to the editor” on social media.