Saturday, November 12, 2005

Who will save the day for my friend Mark?

We were young brothers, 10,8 and 6, if my somewhat messed up memory is correct. My parents were the usual innovative type -- we were latchkey kids (quite common) in a small town in Missouri, growing up in the 1970s. I'm the middle child -- it's that whole diplomatic thing, you know? I'm also the creative type. More on that later.

And we were locked out of our house.

Fortunately, we had a savior, and the name was biblical. Mark, I'll simply call him (because that was his name). Mark was aged between myself and my older brother, Art. We were locked out, but Mark didn't despair. He asked a simple question -- were there any windows left open in the house? We all walked the perimeter of the house.

I approach the house (years later -- I'm 40 at the time -- a different house. Marks', actually). I'm with Marks Dad. He has tears in his eyes. He explains that the house Mark built had pieces of other houses in it. That's the first fact. The second fact; that Mark spent his spare time in Jamestown Missouri, my home town, tearing down houses that were marked for demolition. My childhood house was one of those houses.

The Front door...

The front door was locked. We had looked at all of the windows on the main floor, and they were hooked shut too. But just to make sure, I checked the front door one last time...

The front door looks extremely familiar. It looks just like the one on the house I grew up with. It turns out that that's because it is the one off of the house I grew up in. I stand looking at it, listening to Marks' dad explain that he had talked to Mark one last time, and that He simply couldn't take it anymore, that the medication or something was wrong.

I go inside.

The fireplace is made from the bricks from my old house. Here's some trim... Over here is the staircase that used to lead to me and my brother's bedroom. Mark's dad is still crying, but it alternates from the sadness to the explanations of what a creative guy he was. I know of this creativity first-hand.

Art (my older brother) notes that his bedroom window on the second floor is open. None of us is crazy or brave enough to climb the almost vertical roof that the window is set into -- but Mark says it looks like it can be done. I can only remember the scene one way -- because in so many ways, as a kid, it was such a riot. Mark somehow got up there, got the window open, but it was only small enough for the front half of his torso to slip into. He spent a couple of nervous seconds with his legs dangling out over our roof, and slid into the house, face first.

Marks' father and I are in the basement of the house Mark built. This was his bedroom. He explains that he found him on the bed, a single gun shot in his head.

He can hardly talk.

I can hardly listen. We're both crying now.

Later that day I would drive out to see the wonderful grave stone that they made for my childhood friend. None like it in the cemetery because there was nobody like him in town.

Mark comes down through the house, using the staircase that would someday be part of his daily life, in his own house. He opens the front door for us -- again, someday this too will belong to him. Like the memory that I swear to God is true, he's our hero for the day. This was the 70s, and we had one of those cool sticky label-maker things. We made up a nifty message, which, like Marks gravestone, remains one of the artifacts that prove he was there, for the short time, on this planet -- a positive and creative force to be reckoned with. The message still remains on a filing cabinet in my dads basement, next to a wall of stickers long forgotten.

I walk around Marks yard as his father explains that most of the things in his life were artistic, and thrown away by other people. Like the graveyard I will visit later, each is or represents a work of art. Here's an old oil tank that's been turned into a mural to Lewis and Clark -- with a blow-torch.

Incredible stuff. Marks dad explains that he spent so much time helping others. He tells me that one of Marks complaints in life was that he couldn't shut it off.

Something in my soul begins to resonate a painful grating sound. I know, unlike most people, I know, at least some of what he was feeling. That there are times when the creative river of sound, emotion, ideas, noise -- when it all is so loud that you can't hear the quiet voices of others, or even God himself.

The thing some people call a stream of consciousness can be likened to an ocean gale of ideas, emotions and thought that are next to impossible to shut down.

And it's different if you are one of the majority of people that were put here on this planet that simply don't care. Unlike those people, Mark cared.

The most you can hope for is some solace next to another soul with similar problems -- even then you are simply clinging to a rock in the storm next to a kindred spirit -- at some point you will both have to let go and return to the storm. If you're unlucky, you may not even get this chance.

I think back to the times when my wife found me, picked me up and dusted me off. Of the friends that I am fortunate to have in this world that understand a small portion of the insanity that is FeriCyde. Of the outlets for my creativity -- I begin to feel that I understood some of the blackness that came for Mark...

"MARK SAVED THE DAY", along with a date in 1974. A piece of red, faded label-maker tape still remains. The filing cabinet sits like a large gray gravestone in my fathers office to this day. From time to time, I go down and find the sticker. I just want to know that something from my childhood is still there.

I often wonder who wasn't there to save the day for Mark, that fateful night of darkness. I grew up with the guy. He was such a creative force. Like most creative guys, people didn't always know how to connect with him, but he left behind a hoard of bewildered people who missed him. I wish I had spent more time with him. I wish I had at least visited his house while he was still alive. I would have understood him, and especially now.

I wish I had connected more. I wish I had known the blackness of what he faced so at least he would know that someone had some idea. I wish I could have sat clinging to a rock next to him in that storm that found him that night.

I wish.

The whole subject of being a creative male in this God-forsaken society deserves a thorough trashing by FeriCyde. Look for more, right here, soon. In the mean time, if you remember Mark, say a prayer. And smile. He would have wanted it that way, I'm sure.

3 comments:

Thomas Corriher said...

Hang in there. You can not solve the mystery: not in this lifetime. Hold to your faith and someday you shall know. Things will be set right again. Without such terrible suffering, we would never realize the gifts we take for granted. Sometimes God's silence can even be a gift to us which we realize only in retrospect.

I can somewhat imagine how you feel and am reminded of a poster from military school. The poster pictured a cut up and burned mideval knight; who was bleeding, his armor was severely damaged, his lance was broken, and he was crying. The caption for the poster was:

"Sometimes.... sometimes the dragon wins."

You always fight the good fight. Part of being a great warrior is learning to accept that sometimes we shall lose. We cannot always save our companions either. You have the spirit of a noble knight, and I am saddened by your battle wounds. We all have to go someday, and so we all must focus on making the best use of the time we have left before it is our turn. I so wish that I could remedy your suffering, but there shall never be a cure for a broken heart. The most important thing I can say is for you not to blame yoursef. Whatever barrier separated you two, was something he had lost the ability, or will, to breath. He made his peace enough with the world to move on.

Thomas Corriher said...

Hang in there. You can not solve the mystery: not in this lifetime. Hold to your faith and someday you shall know. Things will be set right again. Without such terrible suffering, we would never realize the gifts we take for granted. Sometimes God's silence can even be a gift to us which we realize only in retrospect.

I can somewhat imagine how you feel and am reminded of a poster from military school. The poster pictured a cut up and burned mideval knight; who was bleeding, his armor was severely damaged, his lance was broken, and he was crying. The caption for the poster was:

"Sometimes.... sometimes the dragon wins."

You always fight the good fight. Part of being a great warrior is learning to accept that sometimes we shall lose. We cannot always save our companions either. You have the spirit of a noble knight, and I am saddened by your battle wounds. We all have to go someday, and so we all must focus on making the best use of the time we have left before it is our turn. I so wish that I could remedy your suffering, but there shall never be a cure for a broken heart. The most important thing I can say is for you not to blame yoursef. Whatever barrier separated you two, was something he had lost the ability, or will, to breath. He made his peace enough with the world to move on.

FeriCyde said...

Thanks Tom.

You have proven a time-tested friend, and I don't need a public forum to remind everyone that in the thick of one of my most moral-testing battles I have ever faced, you were right there, swinging your own sword.

God has blessed me with so many friends, but few as articulate or understanding as you.

GodSpeed my friend.
--FeriCyde