"Smile real loud!"
On Tuesday morning, our very close and dear friend Mark Shumate passed away, painlessly, receiving expert hospice care in the comfort of his home. Brad and I attended his memorial service tonight, where he and Jeff (Mark's best friend since toddlerhood) played "Two of Us" by the Beatles, a song that Mark and Jeff used to play together.
It was such a fitting song, too, and the whole idea moved me. I am so proud of Brad for being able to hold himself together to honor Mark this way. His memorial service was a very difficult moment for both of us but Brad and Jeff did an amazing job. They actually smiled to each other and made it a joyful tribute. Mark would have loved the idea.
If you're not sure which song it is, here is a video:
To honor Mark in my own way (one that doesn't require coherent public speaking: he would understand), here is a short list of some of the things I am thankful for this holiday season:
I'm thankful that Mark saw me as kindred and let me get to know the real Mark.
I'm thankful that Mark drove real slow, often took the long way home to my house and allowed me to have more time with him as he regaled me with hilarious stories. He paid scrutinous attention to detail and put the listener into that moment. He couldn't tell a punchline without cracking up for a while first.
I'm thankful that Mark was a principled person and knew me well enough to hold me accountable to my own principles. A real friend won't always have your back, but should be expected to be honest and genuine and have your best interest at heart.
I'm thankful for the rides he insisted on giving me home. I'm thankful that his concern delivered me safely to my own doorstep night after night.
I'm thankful for the positivity and sunshine Mark showed me whenever he could tell I was stressed out or frustrated. I'm thankful for all the countless times he listened to me and offered his sympathy and hugs when I was down.
I'm thankful for Mark introducing Brad, and with him, my future, to me.
I'm thankful that Mark called the hospital looking for me, when I gave birth to Halle, to congratulate us and to see if there was anything we needed.
I'm thankful that Mark's battle with cancer was short and that his passing was so peaceful. There really isn't a better way to go.
I'm thankful that I was able to be at his memorial service in the company of the people he spoke frequently about with so much tenderness and love. I'm thankful that it was the kind of service that one of his best friends could wear a KISS t-shirt in his honor.
One year you wrote in my birthday card, "it's just another trip around the sun, Raezin". The journey you're on now, though, is taking you far from us and we will miss you so. But as the song goes, "you're coming home."
Run away home, Mark.