the checkered flag waved for my friend, mark, last friday night at 10:45pm when a lady did not see the glow from the headlight on his motorcycle and proceeded to pull her car out in front of him.
mark's race was finished.
yesterday, i drove to the neighboring town of owensboro to attend mark's funeral. i was late to the church but slid into the back pew unnoticed. i missed the beginning of mark's eulogy. however, rev. wood, mark's long time friend and mentor, was coincidentally right at the point in the telling of mark's life-story where mark and i lost touch.
"when he returned home from lexington, mark often came by the house to see lori and me," wood said then continued, "i'm pretty sure if there were lights on in the house, mark thought they were on for him."
the congregation chuckled.
a reason, a season, or a lifetime?
had i ever needed anything, i know mark would have done whatever he could have to help, and, though i had known mark most of my life, we were only really great friends for a few years. so, if i had to classify the type of friend mark was, i would have to say he was a friend for a season.
people who are said to have come into your life for a season, have done so to perhaps share, grow, or learn with you. maybe, they have brought you an experience of peace, made you laugh, or given you an unbelievable amount of joy...
but, only for a season.
mark's and my "season" of friendship began when i was in college and dear friends with his girlfriend, jeanne. our friendship lasted through jeanne's and my graduation, my marriage to john, his marriage to jeanne, the birth of my katherine, and several years thereafter while he and jeanne were living in lexington and she was in medical school.
during that time, mark made me laugh... A LOT. mark was a very funny guy! and he adored katherine. he always kept a photo of her in his wallet so that when others would pull out their pictures to share he would have one, too. that brought me great joy.
when he and jeanne divorced, he moved back home, and we lost contact.
now, i knew mark had moved to owensboro, gotten married, welcomed into the world a little girl, and that mark and his brother had recently been taking care of their ailing parents. however, there were a couple of things upon which rev. wood elaborated i didn't know .
first, wood told us that mark battled cancer a couple of years ago. according to the reverend, it was at this time that mark renewed his faith in and relationship with God. then wood told us that just this past week mark took his mother, who is currently battling cancer, to texas for treatment and further testing. mark and his mother actually returned home from texas on friday only hours before his death.
"cancer is sometimes a gift," said woods. "it gives you time."
"it gave mark the time to get things right with God, and it gave his mother a full week with him she may not have had had she not been diagnosed with cancer. mark was honestly blessed to have had it...
for, cancer gives you time;
motorcycle crashes don't!'"
after an invitation to pray for salvation, music, and a benediction, the funeral ended. the family receded out of the sanctuary. mark's wife, lana, looked at me and smiled through her tears as she walked past me holding the hand of their beautiful little, natalie. next mark's parents and brother walked past his mother stopped and squeezed my hand. it was heartbreaking.
there were several from the henderson county high school class of '87 in attendance jill, whom i had known since pre-school, donnie, who was my math bowl partner, michelle, with whom i had played little league baseball, shelly, who was in my junior honors us history class, lori, who sang in choir with me, and dann-Y, who was a buddy of mine all through junior high and high school...
many, many more,
who were unable to attend,
were there in spirit.
it was a very nostalgic day.
i was at the back of the funeral procession, which brought mark from owensboro to henderson and home to his final resting place. at one point i looked down at my speedometer and realized the long line of cars ahead of me and i were only going 45mph on the 70mph audubon parkway. i giggled to myself. mark, who liked pretty women and fast cars, wouldn't be diggin' this trip one bit! too bad, mark... we continued to slowly but surely make our way.
as we neared henderson, cars, vans, trucks, and semis pulled to the shoulder of the road and stopped out of respect for the procession.
around 3 o'clock, we bid mark a final farewell at roselawn cemetery.
... i have finished the race,
i have kept the faith.
(2 timothy 4:7 niv)
mark is with the KING of kings!
until we meet again...
love and God's blessings,