There’s something about the end of the year that makes me think about who vanished from this world over the last year. For 2010, I remember two people especially, both men I met in the early 80s who died suddenly and unexpectedly. Rob left us in February at the end of a too-long-for-him winter. Mark died in summer out of the blue.
Rob was a river rat, tree flying trimmer extraordinaire, coffee-drinking-from-a-mason-jar, dreamboat prairie man who dated some of my pals over the years and could best be seen walking down Massachusetts street with his dog. We always smiled, occasionally hugged and said, “How you doing?” and even more occasionally talked for a few minutes. He was part of the landscape for me but a very close friend of some of my close friends. I miss seeing him in front of the Bourgeois Pig, his long hair flowing and dog trailing.
Mark was part of every potluck and party we threw, all the KAW Council events from 1982 onward, and the general fabric of my tribe. He was always around — in the library, at a potluck at Danny & Kat’s, in the middle of any outdoor event, and during a great many camping trips and geographic and emotional expeditions. I still keep thinking he’ll show up at the next gathering at my house, carrying a paper bag of salad fixings and some cheap energy-efficient lightbulbs he found to the porch. He was an endearing and odd mixture of shy, passionate, quiet, wanting to be heard, political, spiritual, impatient and wise.
Their absence feels like a shadow presence, just beyond what I can see, much like I feel about others close to me who died, and particularly, died suddenly. I still think of them as if they were just here, just alive — my child brain unable to grasp how people can vanish. A year ago, I couldn’t begin to imagine Rob and Mark gone. A year from now, I wonder who precious to this community will have died. There’s no way of knowing, and the weight of this sweetens the deal of living.
Picture: Rob, and then Mark (on right) with Gary at Nat’s graduation party