(Community Matters) Joined Mark’s family, friends and church members for a celebration of his life in Costa Mesa, CA. this morning. So glad I went; got to see the life Mark lived as a man, his bevy of friends – close friends, his best friends as a grown man – see his daughter and his wife, and reconnect with his mother, father and brother, even meet his sister-in-law.
Mark was a wildly successful man. I know little about his material successes– other than a phone call & email or two when the bottom dropped out of the market in 2008 and he wanted to discuss options – but, this morning I witnessed a parade of obviously successful grown men committed to doing good in this world, testifying to the impact Mark had on their lives, to his commitment to living life to the fullest while bringing out the best in everyone around him. Two young men, brothers as it turned out, led the congregation in song, playing the guitar and telling us how Mark taught them to play while engaging them in a youth group that surfed waves,climbed mountain and skied powder. Makenna (pictured) spoke so lovingly about her dad, how much fun he was, how much he taught her, how he packed every minute of every day, but never forgot to be thankful. She’s beautiful. I see her dad in her. A former roommate & best friend, another best friend & missionary pilot, one more brother-of-another-mother & boss . . . all spoke about Mark’s competitiveness, his drive, and his celebration of winning, while noting he didn’t delight in anyone losing. Stories about his showing up to make sure people were safe, confident and supported – unexpectedly showing up across the country at just the right moment. Lots of golfing stories, surfing stories, and how he joined Campus Crusade for Life while at Southwest Texas State, then became a youth minister in Southern CA. Mark, “lived, worked, played and loved hard.”
Such a treat to see what a great man Mark had become. When I asked Tony (his father) when Mark and I had met, Tony couldn’t remember but said he had met me when I was 1-hour old. Mark’s mom, Florence, said we were all their (& our parents’) children. Mark and I were best friends as kids, still close in high school, and while we kept up with each other, we hadn’t seen each other or talked regularly during the last 20 years. Nevertheless, there’s a bond I can’t explain. Feels like the loss of a brother, certainly someone I loved deeply. We represented different personalities, certainly different physicalities,and led different lives . . . yet it’s interesting how what people said at his funeral, I think some might say at mine – at least the parts about tons of friends, helping lots of people, living life to the fullest, showing up at the right times. I’m very proud of the life my friend Mark built and lived, the people he touched and how he touched them. I’m sorry for those who see him regularly and will miss his physical presence. My heart breaks for their loss. And, yet, he’ll be even more present in my life.