By Mike Genet
It started simply as a collection of blog posts - memories from her life and lessons related to them that she learned – then morphed into a book that she had published last November.
The title, “The China Cabinet,” is derived from the nice cabinet Michelle Metje said her grandmother had, the china cabinet where there's a story behind many of the contents.
“As my grandmother got older, she couldn't remember the stories. It was for my three boys, so they have the stories for their kids,” Metje said of starting the blog posts. “As time went on, my readership increased and I decided to publish it. He's the subject of many of the chapters.”
“He” is Corey Laykovich, her oldest son who would have turned 23 years old Monday but was killed nearly two months ago - the victim of an overnight stabbing July 27 in the vicinity of 39th Street and Crackerneck Road that remains unsolved. That event adds poignancy to Metje's book, given its subject matter.
“I thought it was a good tribute that all the proceeds go toward the reward fund,” said Metje, who was one of several independent authors and publishers who participated in Saturday's Wordstock Book Festival at Prospero's Parkside Books in Blue Springs.
While the reason behind Laykovich's murder is a mystery, some results are clearer.
Laykovich was an organ donor, and Metje said the efforts at the hospital to keep him alive ultimately allowed different people to received his pancreas and kidney, his liver, heart and other kidney through transplants. Two others have received his corneas.
“I think of my son as a hero,” she said. “There are a lot of us in mourning for Corey, but five times that number are celebrating because of my son. They kept him alive long enough to save five people. God wouldn't have taken him for no reason.”
Metje witnessed that reason first-hand Saturday afternoon, when three ladies came to her booth, said they had been following the story closely, bought copies of the book and made extra donations to the reward fund. One of the ladies also handed her an envelope to be opened later.
“Another woman took some fliers and said she would be willing to put them up,” Metje said. “She said 'Your son lives on. You'll understand more when open the letter.'”
Inside were four hand-written pages from the pancreas and kidney recipient.
“It said 'As long as I am alive, your son is too,'” Metje said. “It's one of those moments you only see in the movies.
“I had started wondering if God had forgotten that I was hurting. This was His way of reminding me that He still cares.”
Metje declined to name to donor recipient, but said she will be contacting her. In addition to Metje, Laykovich is survived by brothers Justin Laykovich, 21, and Joshua Metje, 14, and stepfather Bob Norris.
In the days after the murder, Norris said friends dropped Corey off about 12:30 a.m. July 27, near his home in the 4000 block of Crackerneck Road, west of the 39th Street retail district. Metje said after Corey was stabbed, he stumbled into the house between 2-2:15 a.m., but was too disoriented to express how serious his situation was.
“On pure instinct, he was trying to come home to get help, but he'd lost so much blood he couldn't even say it,” she said.
“I know his clothes had a lot of blood on them. I had some blood on my clothes (from holding him). Whoever did this had to have blood on them.”
Independence police detective John Roach said he knows that before going home, Corey didn’t leave a 1-mile radius from the 39th and Crackerneck intersection. Police still are working any leads that come in and would appreciate any possible help.
“I definitely want to provide that closure to Michelle,” he said.
“He's as upset about this as I am,” Metje said. “He wants somebody to pay for this.”
Laykovich was a 2009 graduate of Blue Springs High School and at the time of his murder was a semester away from earning an associate’s degree from Wright Career College, Metje said. Her son was working at a Jimmy John’s restaurant and had designs of being a personal computer technician.
“It's not a pretty story,” she said of his murder, “but I have a china cabinet that's full of them, and that's how I want to remember him.”
HOW TO HELP
“The China Cabinet” can be purchased at www.lulu.com or downloaded with iBooks or iTunes. Monetary contributions can be sent to: The Corey Daniel Laykovich Burial & Reward Fund, c/o Hawthorn Bank, 17430 E. 39th St., Independence 64055. The phone number for the bank is 816-252-5000.