In Memory of Michelle Masson Reichel
This is the obituary of Michelle Masson Reichel (me). I realize that this is a bit unconventional, but I decided I wanted to handle this myself. I passed away (December 13, 2023) after battling ALS for over 3 years. Although I knew from the start that I was fighting a losing battle, I hung on to every bit of myself that I could for as long as possible. I am survived by my amazing husband of 26 years, David, my beautiful sisters, Laura and Tina, their children, as well as In-laws, cousins and aunts and uncles who are too many to name individually (that doesn’t mean I love them any less). My parents, James, and Jeanine (Marie Landry) departed this world ahead of me in 2002 and 2021 respectively.
Growing up in the Saint John area, I didn’t really have any deep aspirations or big plans. I was a shy, quiet kid who lived big in my imagination. I never expected that I would end up in our nation’s capitol working for my parents and finding the love of my life. I was living in Halifax, floating along when Mom and Dad came for a visit and announced that they were running away to Ontario to open an English Butler franchise. My older sister, Tina, was there as well and while I wouldn’t presume to speak for her, I was thinking “Take me with you!”. Before I knew it, I was saying it out loud. By July 1st, 1995, we were pulling into a hotel in West Ottawa weary from the long drive and eager to settle into our new normal.
We spent the next several months getting ready for the Grand Opening and time went slowly for me. It was a busy, exciting time but when you’re 23 years old, in a new city with no friends it can be very lonely. My parents did what they could to keep me occupied outside of work but my social salvation arrived in the form of my (now) sister-in-law, Tracy. Tracy came to work for my parents and soon after, her world expanded to include me, to my eternal gratitude. I met David at a birthday party for her and he and I began an instant friendship which quickly turned romantic. I can honestly say that I never wondered if David would ask me to marry him. After nearly a year together, I knew that he would.
It’s difficult to condense a whole life down into a few paragraphs and I hope I’m not rambling. I’ve had a wonderfully average life and I wouldn’t have it any other way. The good thing about such a life is that it makes the truly wonderful moments stand out and shine brilliantly, and I’ve had a lot of wonderful moments. There have been exciting things like concerts, Canada Day on Parliament hill and tea at the Chateau Laurier and they’ve been fantastic, but the most dazzling aren’t that grand. Driving for an hour out of town to see the night sky in all its glory or having ice cream after hitting the dog park with our human pack. My life has been full of beautiful people, family and friends. Some of you will never know how you impacted my life and maybe I’ve left an impression of which I wasn’t aware but that’s how it works.
I guess if I can give one final piece of advice (I am a Masson, after all), it would be to stop every so often and appreciate where you are. Physically, emotionally and spiritually. Don’t forget to take stock or take a breath, drink in the little moments that make life worth living. Don’t forget to pay compliments or tell the manager what great service you got. Life is challenging enough so be kind.
A Celebration of Life will be held on Sunday, January 28, 2024 from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. at Heritage Funeral Complex, 1250 Trim Road, Ottawa, ON.
In memory of Michelle, donation can be made at ALS Society of Canada or Bruyere Foundation.