Remembering my friend Mark

It’s knowing that this can’t go on forever
Likely one of us will have to spend some days alone
Maybe we’ll get forty years together
But one day I’ll be gone or one day you’ll be gone
If We Were Vampires

Mark loved that song. We talked about it when our mutual friend, Richard, passed away. I thought of it a great deal yesterday after the news of Mark’s passing came down.

Many of Mark’s friends, many closer than I, have written beautiful words and expressed equally beautiful sentiments. It is no mystery that I loved Mark. That has been true pretty much since I first met him. That instant affection was something he would evoke in people because he was so genuine. You can see it in the Twitter posts of friends and strangers from near and far. His recent departure from Bucs staple, Pewter Report, shook the fanbase and triggered an outpouring of emotion. His good friend Skip Brown mentioned this yesterday and it made me think:

The best thing to come from his parting with PR is that he was able to receive his flowers while he was still with us.
He knows he was loved & many don’t get that!!— – dıʞs – (@its_skip_b) August 13, 2021

It is certainly true. Sadly, we humans often take for granted the time we have together. Simply taking the time for true, raw emotion that is our defining characteristic is a rare thing. I am sure Mark was proud of the impact he learned he made on so many people…truths that became clear over the past few weeks. It seems many of us need a nudge to express ourselves.

Trevor and Luke are gifted and know the value of a few, clean words. I am a ham-fisted writer, more in love with my use of imagery than I am interested in the precision of my points. But I, like them (And many others) am profoundly sad at our loss and sometimes, writing is catharsis.

A few things I remember about Mark

A warm smile. A big hug. His Vans. Hats that always looked like they were 10 years old even when they were new. Fishing.

His son, Douglas.

His whole family and his history. Elvis. Lewis Grizzard. Sunsets. His “spitter”, a signature of Polk County folk and something he often had with him at my house.

His love, Megan (Daisey…Charlotte… the three of us would joke about this)

His passion. His ‘lens.’ His willingness to help. His complete lack of fear when it came to caring, even if it meant being hurt. His sense of fair play.

Sometimes in life we are blessed to know people unafraid of being themselves. Open to all the pain and joy that comes with the embrace of unabashed authenticity. Mark was one of those people. One of the best writers I knew who wasted his talent on sports. Only he didn’t see it that way. He saw it not as a waste of time, but rather a microcosm of life and a way to tell stories and bind people around our shared experience. I know he believed that, and I know he loved it.

I was looking forward to his next chapter selfishly because I would have gotten to be a part of it. I am wrecked at how fast that changed. I, like you, am gutted that it isn’t just a change in direction, but the loss of a friend.

Maybe time running out is a gift
I’ll work hard ’til the end of my shift
And give you every second I can find
And hope it isn’t me who’s left behind

I know Mark worked hard to the end and I know we will keep him alive in our memories, our stories, our laughter and our tears. I hope we can take the good Mark shared so openly and incorporate it in ourselves and our interactions and, even for just a little while, remember to remind those who mean so much to us of that very thing.

Life is much too short.

Miss ya Cookie. Miss you so much already.


"Here's to good memories, ounce by ounce." --Matt Westerman Currently hosting an Internet Radio/TV show called "What the Buc?" covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers! We are having a blast and would love to get feedback from you folks on it.

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