Two days ago was my brother Mark's birthday. Well, it would have been his birthday...I suppose it still is his birthday. He would have been 38 years old. Wow. It's so strange to think of him as a 38 year old man. Since he died at a mere 25 years old, that's what he always will be in my mind, just 25 years old. April has a great quote in one of her family scrapbooks...
To the outside world we all grow old. But not to brothers and sisters. We know each other as we always were. We know each other's hearts. .... We live outside the touch of time. ~Clara Ortega
I love that quote. It's so true.
The reason I'm writing this blog 2 days after Mark's birthday is actually because I forgot his birthday until last night. Isn't that horrible? I should still have it written down, transferred from year to year, from calendar to calendar. But then, why? Isn't the only reason we actually write peoples birthdays down is so that we remember to call them, send them a card, make them a gift, throw them a party? Mark is gone, no more cards, phone calls, dinners, cakes. No more.
Mark was 6 years older than me. We were very close. I participated in all his organizations, hung out with him, we went shopping together. When he was alive I think that he and I were probably closer than any of my other siblings. During the last few months of his life we actually lived together, bought a house together so he could be near my parents. I helped bathe him, gave him his breathing treatments. Rubbed ointment on his sores. Helped him get dressed. Drove him to his numerous doctors appointments...everything. Those last 3 weeks, living in that house with him away in the hospital were horrible.
Then to receive that dreaded phone call from my mom, get to the hospital...you need to say goodbye. It was a Sunday, September 17, 1995 (not 2005). He struggled to breathe, everyone was racing from all parts of the country to get there. He stopped breathing at 3:15pm, after a morpine induced coma, his room was packed with family. I remember as he was taking his final breaths, silently begging for each next breath as my aunt wispered behind me, "Just go Mark, its all right, you can go, take your last breath and go, go home." That was the hardest thing I have ever been through in my entire life. Siblings are all suppose to grow old together. We are not suppose to die that young. For those first few years after he died even though it was only 1 person gone, it seemed like half the family was missing. From 6 siblings to 5, it felt so drastic.
The funeral was in the chapel. The time before that Mark was in a chapel was for...hmmmm I cant remember. It was for something important I know. But I do remember that he and his boyfriend came together and they were wearing coordinating suits...how cute. People refused to shake his hand, some pretended not to see him. That broke my heart. That's a main reason why I left the church for so long. They always say (like in that korny "Charly" book I just read), The gospel is perfect, the people are not. Hmmmm, I always have a hard time with that saying. There were those wonderful few who genuinely loved seeing him at church. Brother Addison and Brother Welker especially. They ended up speaking at his funeral. Mark would have loved that, he loved them and their examples.
I always wonder what kind of Uncle he would have been? Would he sit back and observe, would he get down on the floor and play with them, would he be the uncle that picks them up on a Saturday afternoon to take them to a movie and spoil them with anything and everything?
Would he have adopted kids of his own? Would he have eventually found a partner that truly loved him and he was head over heels for? Would he still be a huge AIDS activist? I like to think he would have been and done all of that.
Sometimes it saddens me that none of the grand kids were ever able to meet him, but at the same time I realize they met him, they met him before I met them. They knew the Mark with no lesions, with hair, no scars, no pain. They knew the Mark I always saw when I looked at him. How lucky for them, how sad they cant remember, but how lucky nonetheless.
I miss him, I miss him so horribly much I get intense sharp pains in my chest and so sick to my stomach I have to curl up in a ball. Sometimes my eyes are so swollen from crying it takes hours to recover. I wish he was here with us still. I wish I could call him on the phone and tell him about my day and my family. I wish I could confide in him. But its for reasons like this I am so glad I'm a religious person. How much more horrible it would be if I thought I would never see him again, talk to him again, touch him again. If I thought there were no such things as souls or spirits and all that remains is what's buried under the ground and will one day be no more. What a depressing thought. I know Ill see him again, I know he is able to make new and better choices where he is now. I know he knows we love him and think about him. Even if I cant talk to him I know he knows about my day, my family and my problems.
So, Happy Birthday Mark...I love you!