Henry Mackaman was exactly 21 years and 5 months old when he was declared brain dead on April 10, 2013, from bacterial meningitis. He was a student at UW Madison, majoring in Economics and Creative Writing. He was honored with a posthumous degree, as he was one credit shy of graduating as a junior.
As a toddler, Henry loved Thomas the Tank Engine and Barney, and he could sing any song from the Sound of Music and the Music Man. Henry grew to love baseball, soccer, football and skate boarding. He loved fishing, frogging, and his little brother Owen. He ate his grandma’s pancakes by the dozen (with peanut butter, of course.) He was obsessed with the movie Titanic.
As a teen he picked up the guitar, and wrote countless journals full of thoughts, dreams, lyrics and stories. His new favorite movie was Back to the Future. In high school and college he sang and played the guitar in a local band called Phantom Vibration. He was a DJ at the local radio station. His program was called the Grooving Tree, named after one of his favorite books.
In college he wrote a play that was staged and performed at the Student Union in Madison. He made more coffee than some people do in a lifetime. He stayed up late at night writing and talking to his brother and friends until the wee hours. He traveled. He met people along the way during his journey through Europe. He watched World Cup soccer in Berlin and drank pilsner in Prague. He played cards with his companions deep into the night on trains to new destinations.
Henry died very rapidly. He was talking at 4:30 in the morning and five hours later he had a seizure, went into a coma and never regained consciousness. But he had a strong, healthy body and donated his organs to others. He was a hero, a lion, and a champion. He was one of the kindest people anyone will have ever known. He was a gift to this world. We all love you and will miss you for the rest of our lives, Shig.
“There are no goodbyes for us. Wherever you are, you will always be in my heart.”