Michele Ecle Pabillon (48 years old), passed away peacefully in the company of her two daughters at Good Samaritan Hospital in the early evening of Thursday, October 28th, 2021. In the spring of 2020, she was diagnosed with Stage 4 Metastatic Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer (with ALK gene mutation) and had been battling with the aggressive disease for over a year with a fierce determination to overcome her illness until the Lord finally called her home, rewarding our little warrior with a well-deserved rest after such grueling trials.
Michele (formerly Michele Soriano Ecle) was born on February 3rd, 1973 in Danvers, Massachusetts to two loving parents (both immigrants from the Philippines) Benjamin (Ben) and Celerina (Cely) Ecle. Her father was in the U.S. Coast Guard so the Ecle family (including one younger sibling, her brother Benjamin Jr.) lived a nomadic lifestyle, moving from state to state with each change in her father’s deployment status. She grew up primarily in the East Coast of the United States, some of the most memorable of those states being Connecticut and Florida. The family had lived briefly in Washington state before finally deciding to settle there in Pacific, WA around 1989 due to the presence of family and friends in the area.
Michele attended Auburn High School and fully embraced her student life there. She was involved in many activities including: FBLA, being a journalist for her school newspaper and an athlete on the AHS Girls’ Tennis Team. She graduated in June 1991.
That same year in February 1991, she met Noel Pabillon while working at her part time job as a barista for a small coffee cart in the Auburn Fred Meyer grocery store. They dated and married the following year in 1992 and had their first daughter, Leia, in September ‘92.
Despite the challenges of being a young mother, Michele attended Green River Community College and completed her degree in Practical Nursing, graduating in 1994. Thus began her lifelong commitment to nursing and caring for others with compassion. As an L.P.N. (Licensed Practical Nurse), she was first employed at a nursing home called ‘North Auburn Rehabilitation & Health Center’. She was a Treatment Nurse & dealt with ‘Primary Care Medication’. During that time, she received many awards in attendance and loyalty. In November 1998, she was awarded Employee of the Month for ‘Outstanding Commitment of Excellence’.
She continued to live in Pacific with her little family unit until they moved to Sumner in 1996. In August 2000, she gave birth to her second daughter, Nichole. She worked long hours like her husband to help provide for her family, but she still managed to be a present mother when she could. Many fond memories were made during her moments of free time. She stayed at the nursing home for 11 years before leaving in 2006. From 2006-2007, a time of difficulty arose. She divorced from her husband and became a single mother with shared custody of her children, her home being their primary household.
But with every challenge thrown her way, Michele would persevere and move on with great strength despite her outward appearance of being small and quiet. Part of that strength came from putting her faith in God and Jesus. Throughout her entire life, she was prayerful and devout to the Catholic faith. She kept God as her center and followed her calling to care and provide for her daughters and while also continuing with her healing work as a nurse.
Wanting to start fresh in a clinical office setting, Michele applied to Digestive Health Specialists and was hired in July 2006 at the clinic in Federal Way where she stayed employed for 15 years before her passing in 2021. She received a 10-year service award in 2016.
Her boss and coworkers had become a second family to her over the years. Michele was loved by them all and her coworkers regaled us with tales of her work life that none of her family members had known. We knew she was a hard worker and that she always tried to go above and beyond for her patients and coworkers, but what we did not know is that she balanced her steadfast work ethic with playfulness and spontaneity. She is fondly remembered by her smile and laugh, her singing and dancing to music in the office, her amazing handmade costumes during work dress-up occasions like Halloween and Ugly Xmas Sweater contests, her love of work parties and the sisterly warmth and compassion she showed to everyone in the clinic. She will be missed dearly by them, and we thank them for their love and support of Michele over the course of these past 15 years.
Michele had quite the complex character. In the public eye, she was introverted, shy, reserved and private. But to those who know and love her best, Michele was passionate, kind, creative, independent, hardworking and a kid-at-heart. She was a sentimental person and kept many treasures from her childhood and significant moments in her life. She was a collector of many things: stickers, pins, stamps, trading cards, special edition Barbie dolls, Beanie Babies, books and more. She kept everything catalogued in journals, notebooks and many, many scrapbooks and photo albums. Michele loved taking photos and saving memories, making sure to note every detail of almost every moment she could. When taking videos, she loved to narrate the events unfolding in front of her.
Growing up through the 70s, 80s and 90s and on through the new millennium, Michele carried a love for music and media throughout her life. She grew up during the glory days of MTV and saw the rise of pop and rock icons in those eras. Her music and movie collections were just as extensive if not more so than her other collections. She loved 80s music (everything from pop to the wild rock hair bands), disco/funk, R&B, smooth jazz, Spanish guitar and contemporary Christian. She recorded songs on tape off the radio, burned songs into personal mixed CDs and kept a generous selection of music on her phone as technology improved over the years.
Nichole, her youngest daughter, when asked about her favorite memory with Michele had this to say: “I’ve been trying to think about it, but so far I gotta say [my favorite memory was] when I used to watch movies with her on the couch, sharing a big bowl of popcorn. We watched the Jaws movies together, Iron Eagle, some of the Star Wars movies, etc. She really liked The Princess Bride too.”
Michele loved all things Disney, cult classic 80s movies, video games and Star Wars. Of these things, Star Wars was #1 on the list of her favorite media, so much so that her oldest daughter was named after a certain Rebel princess and general from the series. (A fact that Leia had found out many years AFTER growing up to believe she had been named after a biblical figure. “Thanks mom, but it’s alright, I love you even more for it! What more could a fellow Star Wars fan ask for than to share a namesake with an amazing female icon!?”) Video games comes in at #2 of her favorite media. Michele shared her love of gaming with her children, introducing them to the Atari, Sega Genesis and even played on newer gaming consoles as they came out, particularly enjoying when remakes of older games she had played as a child were released. After work, one of her favorite ways of winding down would be playing games on her PC and tablet.
Out of all her hobbies, one of the greatest of Michele's passions was being creative. She loved to sew, did counted cross-stitch, created Halloween costumes, made jewelry & rosaries, painted, repurposed old items into new ones and loved creating handmade cards and gifts. She also enjoyed baking and some of Leia's favorite tried and true cookie recipes have come from Michele.
"Mom always found ways to make things her own, whether that be through putting her own tasty twists on traditional recipes or giving a craft its own unique flair that when you look at it, you'd automatically know 'Wow, that's Michele right there!' I remember going to craft bazaars with her when I was a kid, not only to shop, but to help sell her handmade crafts. She sold things to her coworkers and this past summer (2021), I helped her out and sold some of her items at my own vendor booth at the Hoodsport Farmers Market. After her cancer diagnosis, she didn't have a way to share her creations so I figured it would be a nice way to help her. I loved her creativity and the way she got excited over showing me new things she's made, especially her progress on intricate cross-stitch pieces. We'd have so much fun sharing pics of our different crafty projects. My sister & I are lucky to have inherited her artistic nature, and all the things she's made for me and my family will be cherished for years to come."-- Leia
As a mother, Michele showed her love through actions and thoughtful gestures. It was difficult raising two daughters on her own, especially with their difference in ages. Each one had their own needs that she tried her best to take care of. There were good times and bad. There were even some years of separation as the girls grew into adults and went through different trials. But as they matured, they grew closer to Michele. She’d lend motherly advice, sharing her own life experiences, and would always give heartfelt gifts. In July of 2012, she became a grandmother. Leia and her husband Corey were blessed with a daughter, the circumstances being like what Michele had been through with her first born. She had an endless number of tips and know-how on being a young mother, and gifted Leia with both knowledge and useful items to help make motherhood a little easier. Michele’s smile was positively radiant the day she and Nichole visited and held that tiny baby girl for the first time.
After Michele’s cancer diagnosis in 2020, her daughters would repay her years of devotion to them by becoming her caregivers and supporters. Just like she had done for them when they were children, they drove her to where she needed to go, bought her groceries, and saw to her needs as best as they could, especially when her health began to decline. In her final days, her children gave her the comfort, support and peace that she needed before she passed.
“While it’s hard losing our mother so soon, we are comforted by the fact that she saw us grow up and experience most of the milestones that come with adulthood. It will be difficult coping with the loss of her, but we know that she will always be watching over us and that a part of her lives inside of us not only in our DNA and the traits we have inherited from her, but she lives on in the memories we’ve shared and the warmth of her love imprinted on our hearts. She deserves her rest after going through what she did, and we believe she is at peace. We love you so much, mom!” – Leia & Nichole
Michele is survived by her two daughters Leia & Nichole, her parents Ben & Cely, younger brother Ben Jr., 1 granddaughter and many relatives and friends.
Michele’s personal mantra during her illness was: "Life is precious, enjoy each and every day!"
So don't forget to hug your loved ones close and tell them you love them, because you never know what tomorrow will bring. Treat each day like a gift because in the end, we do not know how long we have on this beautiful planet.
In lieu of sending flowers, please consider supporting the GoFundMe page “Remembering Michele: Support for Funeral Costs” set up by her eldest daughter to help cover expenses for her memorial services: https://gofund.me/638a5789
Any extra funds after reaching the goal will be donated back to the cancer center she frequented and to any cancer research and resource programs (like the free wig program) that have helped her and other cancer patients.