Ironies abound here.
Yesterday the man from Hollywood that he had been talking to about a possible movie deal showed up on his doorstep to talk about an offer. Why could he not have come a week earlier? That is the kind of question that will drive me crazy. Mark’s brothers talked with him. It remains to be seen what will happen but I keep asking myself why that couldn’t have happened sooner.
Yesterday a woman who had read Mark’s book called to ask about his death. In the last chapter of his book, F/V Black Sheep, there is a terrifying scene in which Mark was dragged overboard by a trawl line wrapped around his leg and the story of how he was saved. “He had a heart attack,” I heard myself say when she asked. “Well,” she said, “I guess that’s better than dying alone at the bottom of the ocean.” My head grew light and I nearly fainted. I wrote that very same bit of dialog years ago at the end of The Old Mermaid’s Tale! Toward the end of the book someone asks the heroine about the death of one of the characters and she replies, “He had a heart attack.” And the other character responds by saying that that is better than spending eternity on the bottom of the ocean. Good God. What a chilling experience.
Yesterday I attended the visitation at the funeral parlor. I hate such things and had vowed at my brother’s wake that I would never again look at another dead guy in a box. But I did. I did it for his mother because I love her, too. I know people say things like, doesn’t he look wonderful, and he’s at peace now and blah-blah-blah but I hated every second of it. Yes, they had done a wonderful job and all that but it was still horrible. It was still a knife in the gut every time I looked at that man, that body, stuffed into a metal box no matter how much satin and how many flowers had been added. He looked uncomfortable. His shoulders were too big to be in such a contraption. And all I could think is, “This is wrong. This is wrong.”
Yesterday a nice man left a photograph of Mark (left) from high school on his guest book. He is probably seventeen and is wearing his ROTC uniform. It is so sweet. I always thought he had the nicest eyes and in the photo you can see them so young and eager and full of anticipation for the life ahead of him. They remind me of another line in The Old Mermaid's Tale when Clair says that she "dreamed of a seaman with the constellations of the Northern Seas in his eyes". And my friend Jay Albert who photographed Mark’s boat for the cover of his book contributed a final, beautiful picture of F/V Black Sheep alone, loaded with traps, with the sun about to set (below).
I learned yesterday that Mark had been diagnosed with severe coronary heart disease a few months ago. There was talk of surgery but he kept putting it off. He had been sick most of the winter but he hid it. He was a tough guy, he didn’t want anyone to know.
And yesterday, over and over and over, I heard people tell me, “Mark loved you. He appreciated you so much. He talked about you all the time. You made his dream come true.” Those are nice words to hear but hard to bear. There is so much I wish I had told him but most of all this one thing --- he made my dream come true, too.
Thanks for reading.