It was a lovely spring day just before Palm Sunday. I had spent my first night in Paris and after eating my croissant and hot chocolate in bed I pulled on a pair of jeans and my favourite green baggy sweatshirt and headed down to the lobby to meet the others. I was one of the last ones to venture down.
Students from three American high schools had been combined to tour France together over the next couple of weeks. As I climbed on the tour bus the students I later learned were from Virginia had already occupied the seats in the front. Most of my own schoolmates had settled in the middle and there were no free seats with them. My teacher chaperone shouted that I could sit with her but I pretended not to listen and kept venturing back further in search of an empty seat next to a friendly face. I finally found one all the way at the back in what we later dubbed the first class section.
I slid in next to Markus that day not knowing that I had found someone who would become one of the best friends I would ever have. I nicknamed him Marky on our second day in first class, he called me Hill Billie because of my description of my hometown which varied so greatly from the city of Los Angeles he was so used to. Despite geography we had so much in common and became inseparable over the remainder of the trip.
On the day our visit to France ended we said goodbye at the airport and promised to keep in touch. We did. Letters flowed back and forth for a couple years after, phone bills were inflated in those times when a letter just wasn’t enough and always there was the promise we would meet in person again some day. We did.
Over the years technology changed. We no longer wrote letters but emails instead. Then there was social media. Always we stayed in touch. We watched and encouraged each other’s creative and personal growths.
I dreamt that I was sat at a bar on a pier having a drink with Markus the other night. The lush green plants behind us swished from a warm breeze blowing through them. The water lapped against the pier and created a gentle rhythm. I turned to him and asked if he was okay. He smiled and said, “I am perfect but a little tired so I am going to go home now.” He got up and embraced me and then I watched him as he walked away.
Although my regular contact with Marky diminished over the years I always found comfort knowing where he was in the world and knowing if I actually needed him he would be there. That was until now because he isn’t. Today is his going home life celebration. My friend is gone. It is hitting me hard today.
Since his death I have been okay about it. The tributes by the many people who loved him have flooded his Facebook wall. There has been such a feeling of great belonging in reading them. I did not know his friends personally. I only met a couple in person and that was over ten years ago. I do not even live in America anymore and yet the fact so many have posted photos and heartfelt messages and creative outpourings has made me feel ever more humbled and incredibly lucky to have had him as part of my life for over 20 years.
My Marky, my friend has no physical ties to this earth now but his soul walks on in the love of his friends and family. His energy still dances in the legacy of his creations. His memory lingers in everything he has touched.
My love and condolences go out to all of those who are struggling with Markus leaving this world and passing to the next. He is light now but then again if ever there were a person on this earth to have already been light in life it was him. I hope you’ve had a safe journey home Markus and that you will always be remembered by those you have touched in your time here on earth.