Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Happy Birthday Mark


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!


aimee heff said...

That was so beautifully expressed. Thank you for sharing.

April said...

I think about Mark too. I actually never met him, but I knew about him. I'm sad that I never got to know him. Sometimes I wonder if I had met him if Ryan and he would've gotten to know each other better. I think Ryan would have been more interested in a relationship with him had he not been the last one to know everything. I think it bothers him that his family never told him that he was homosexual or kicked out of the house and so on. I can see why that is troublesome, he must feel like no one trusted him with such important information. Nonetheless, I am honored to name my son after someone that you loved so much and someone that I know I would've come to love if given the chance.
I think about the close relationship that you had with MArk and wonder, would we be as tight as we are if MArk were still here. I don't know, but I feel lucky to be friends with you and to learn all I can about the MArk that you knew. Happy Birthday Mark, and I look forward to the day when we finally get to meet.

Sara said...

Wow Jenny, I never knew Mark either, but I know you. And now I think I need to go cry for a while. That was very touching.

JRV said...

Clarification to April's comment. Mark was gay, and yes Mark was kicked out of the house. But I want to make sure people understand he was not kicked out because he was gay. It was for other valid reasons completely unrelated to his sexual orientation. I dont want people thinking my family is a bunch of bigots :) Thanks for your comment April, I wish you could have known him also, he would have been right in the middle of all us girls, chatting till 3am.

leann said...

This blog was beautiful.

If it makes anyone feel better, this is the first I ever heard about Mark being kicked out of the house.

alisha said...

I love being able to share the more personal sides of ourselves. I think it helps us understand each other better and open our eyes to new perspectives. I'm so glad you have such special memories of Mark...thanks for sharing again!

JRV said...

Remember LeAnn, for stealing Loren's identity. It was for a short period of time that he was gone. I think it was more of a voluntary hiatus from the house (which mom and dad didnt object to comp;ete;y) than a full on fledge kick out. Talk about sharing family sludge on the internet. I think Ryan and Nathan have slightly warped memories of Mark, his ideas and his relationship with mom and dad. They were so young when he died.

Shannon Jones said...

Jenny, that was beautiful. I agree that siblings should grow old together.
And I cried reading this entry.
Thanks for sharing

heather said...

that was really touching jenny.

I've heard you talk about how close you and Mark were before and I've always been in awe. How great is that to be able to have a big brother who wanted to spend time with you and enjoyed your company...

I'm sure he would have LOVED your kids...who doesn't?!

Thank you for sharing that sweet message.

jesst said...

I agree with everyone else, of coursee...that was a beautiful tribute to Mark and to your relationship with him. I also love Mark. Do you remember when I lived with your family? It would have been 1986, 87, somewhere in there. I had the little yellow room upstairs, so actually, Mark and I shared the upstairs, had one common bathroom. Mark and I would sometimes sit up late, if one of us couldn't sleep, talking, laughing. Okay, usually it was me, the obsessive insomniac who couldn't sleep, but Mark was often up working on a project for school, scouts, music, or just for fun. I got to know and love Mark. He had such an energy for life, was always so busy, had such great, grand ideas to share and to work on. And he loved to share his opinions about anything and everything! He was always right, of course! (what person who shares even a drop of Rodgers blood is NOT always right????)

My mom called me when Mark was in the hosptial right before his death. She knew that I loved him and would want to know. I was able to call him from Rexburg and give him my love. His breathing was very labored by then, and he could do little but listen to me, but he did manange an "I love you too" which I hold as very precious. Mark is an amazing person and I will be honored to be reunited with him some day and again throw my arms around him and thank him for sharing his short life with me.
(Mark and Jenny's first cousin, for those who don't know me)

Mom said...

I remember when Mark was 'kicked out'. Actually, what happened was Mark was buying a house and it was supposed to be ready by a certain date. We had planned to remodel the office, of course. He was staying in the small bedroom that is now where Dad sits. It was actually very funny. I told him he needed to be packed and out by a certain date, but he drug his feet. I even gave him some boxes. The morning of the deadline, he was asleep, of course, so I just went into his room and started taking down the wall over his bed. He finally got the hint and starting packing his stuff. He ended up staying in the basement a short time, which motivated him to do what he needed to do. It was time for him to go out on his own. We would not have kicked him out because he was Gay. I thought Dad was actually quite supportive, though he didn't understand it. It was difficult living with Mark mostly because of his late hours and high energy. We miss this about him, even though he was very exhausting to be around. Remember the late nights we spent folding flyers for some Gay event? Dad even worked the both at the Gay Pride, which brought in a lot of business because the guys all thought he was cute. I still hurts to think about how much we miss him, but I know he watches over us and is a part of our family everyday.


Rachel said...

I don't know Mark, or you, but that post was amazing and gave me the good feeling cry I needed. Thank you.

Helena said...

This was a beautiful and thoughtful post. I'm also grateful for the clarification of events. It is strange how siblings have such very different memories of the same events...my brother and I do it, as do Bill and his sister. I knew OF Mark, simply because we were a year apart in school. I'm pretty sure I thought he was a hottie back then, just like all the adorable Sauer kids.