My friend Mark is a writer and photographer. Mark’s compassion, wonder, and wit, combined with a healthy dose of cynicism make each of his blog posts a joy to read. Each photo complements every word. Check out his blog at walkacrossitall.com.
Mark’s pursuit of his passions inspired this blog. Writing is integral to the person I am. Yet I’ve stopped writing. I’m challenging myself to write regularly and asking you to read it if you like it and delete it if you don’t.
Mark re-entered my life recently. Electronically at least. I never wanted him to leave it. But we drifted when life intervened. As it does.
Not many years ago, Mark helped get me through my darkest days. My ex-partner’s cancer diagnosis rattled me like nothing before. Until I rattled again, just a few months later when our decade long relationship ended during her treatment. I retreated to a basement suite. I retreated into myself.
Mark buoyed me at my lowest ebb. We worked together, laughed together and drank beer in the park together. Every Thursday night meant growlers, gossip and Capoeira in Victoria’s Central Park. Capoeira is a Brazilian martial art. We didn’t practice it but we certainly enjoyed watching the best combination of beautiful lithe bodies, and not so beautiful not so lithe bodies we’d ever seen contorting in public. “Capoeira” became a codeword for Thursday nights. Capoeira was spiritual gold when I was spiritually bankrupt.
Mark and I became vegans at the same time together too. Not surprising for me. The world is full of scrawny running vegans. But Mark is big and strong and outgoing. Not the stereotypical vegan. His courage to pursue a lifestyle that many still raise their eyes at, helped give me the courage to live my beliefs.
When I began to feel more like a whole person again, I tried online dating. In my profile I described myself as Reader, Writer, Runner.
I met a beautiful and very special woman. Sonja is my wife now. Before we married, we had a daughter. Molly was born on my 45th birthday. A gift beyond comprehension.
Life changed. As it does.
Reading, once a daily ritual, became a rare luxury.
Running never left me. It just changed. Less time to train, fewer miles, and different goals. Goodbye sub-three hour marathon. Instead running became its own essence. The pursuit of physical and mental health.
Goodbye writing. The most difficult and least enjoyable of the three, it was easy to stop making the effort when time came at such a premium.
But then Mark inspired me. With words from France. With his example – taking the time to be true to himself, while still being a wonderful husband and father.
I read Mark’s latest posts while Sonja and I were in Victoria on a mini-vacation. Molly burst with joy everywhere we went: petting goats in Beacon Hill Park, riding a big red bus, sitting beside her dad eating bacon for breakfast. I burst with joy every moment too, with my ladies at my side.
As we were about to leave town, I called my friend Danica. I hadn’t seen her in almost three years. We’d barely communicated. She had never met Molly. Yet I still felt close to her. She was yet another friend I had let slip through my life.
We parked outside Danica’s home and I called her. She wasn’t far away, walking her dog. We drove to her. Embraced. Showed off Molly. Walked. Talked. Laughed.
We ended up in a nearby park. Molly climbed to the top of a slide. Four to six feet off the ground. There was sand on the slide. Molly slipped, fell backwards, and hit the ground. Sonja and I were too far away to catch her. Too far away to see where she hit, or how she hit. We were close enough to see her tumble. Close enough to hear her cry. We both ran to her, not knowing what we were about to find.
It was the most scared I have ever been. I didn’t know if my daughter had been critically hurt. My head went to the worst place imaginable.
Sonja picked her up. Molly sobbed. Danica stood beside us. In all my worry, I had a sliver of consolation. Danica was a doctor. Doctor Danica. We’d met years earlier in a writing class. She is a talented writer, an accomplished doctor, a mom, a wife and a wonderful human being.
Danica examined Molly. Nothing broken. No bleeding. Head good. Pupils good. Ears good. Moving just fine.
It may be the most thankful I have ever been.
When Molly stopped crying I told her she was brave and strong and asked her if she wanted to climb back up the slide. She did. Up she went, and down she went. This time sliding, not falling.
It may be the most proud I have ever been.
We didn’t spend long with Danica. A few minutes before the fall, a few minutes after. But she inspired me. She is pursuing her passions. For teaching children about nature, and the environment and the connectivity of all things.
The next morning my family was back home. Molly could not stop talking about Dr. Danica, asking for “story about Molly fell and Dr. Danica.” So, with a little help from dad, Molly called Dr. Danica. They talked for a few minutes. Molly asked Dr. Danica if she had any toys, and if she liked pink cars. My heart warmed.
There are quite a few Marks and Dr. Danicas in my life. If you’re reading this, there is a good chance you are one of those people. Someone who is important to me. Someone whose friendship I value. Someone who has shared good times with me, and helped me through bad times. Someone I’ve let slip out of my life.
Mark and Dr. Danica reminded me of the importance of keeping the people that matter close.
Mark and Dr. Danica inspired me to write again.