I am dying. Not really dying, I am already dead, or I am supposed to at least pretend that I am. My assignment is to write my own obituary, and the thought of doing so was strange at first, then frightening, and then entertaining. I wasn’t sure how to start because reading obituaries wasn’t something I am inclined to do. The minute we are born, we give the universe permission to try and kill us. I don’t plan on leaving this place any sooner than I have too, and I plan on fighting the universe tooth and nail for every year I have left. But an assignment is an assignment. This isn’t a plea for help or a reason to worry, just an exercise in art and craft, taking a look at oneself and trying to make sense of it all.
Mark Brown, 45, of Oklahoma City has died. He is dead. He has kicked the bucket, gone to the big sleep, off to meet his Maker. He’s gone. The cause of death is undetermined, although the thoughts and theories run abundant. One such tale is that he jumped into a volcano to save the world, while another states how he was curious as to who was tougher, him or a bear. Apparently the bear won. One claim is that Mark simply walked into the corn fields and vanished, perhaps looking for one last catch with his old man. No one really knows the cause of his demise because his body was never recovered. He was last seen driving west in his jeep, the top down, doors off, a devilish grin on his face and a baseball cap on his head. The song Back To You by John Mayer blasting from the stereo. Many that witnessed the event weren’t sure what to make of the music choice, was he referring to God, or perhaps chasing the ghost of a memory? Whatever the case, he found what he was looking for.
Mark was born in the small town of Hartshorne, Oklahoma to Carol Ann and Bruce. Love was abundant in his town and in his family, and so was adventure. Though the city limits are small in his hometown, the boundaries of reality reached to the outer limits of the stars and as far back as the dinosaurs. A lot of living can be done in a small place, and Mark milked it til it was dry, and promptly went back to the start and asked for more.. He found adventure on bikes, in fields, in the Cubs and in the wind. He saw adventure because he was looking for it, and sometimes it found him.
Love is meant to be shared, and Mark gobbled all he could from all those around him, from family to friends, from strangers and even enemies. He sought to see the best in people, and when you try to look for something, you often tend to find it. He found love in silence and in song, he found peace in pain and solitude in companionship. He loved people, and when alone, would think about those he had met, and hope they too would find the awe in themselves that he found in them.
Mark loved to read. He loved to write. He hated arithmetic. He would clean his house to Frank Sinatra because he felt it helped put life into the place, and listened to Jazz in the evenings to let the life dance in the air. He enjoyed mowing, as strange as that sounds. Mowing was his love language, and the way his inner child found joy. His favorite book will always be The Great Gatsby, for like Gatsby, Mark believed in the green light, he believed in hope and he believed in love. His favorite movie was 12 Angry Men, because he also believed that one man can make a difference.
There will be no services held to the public. A small ceremony will be held for his family because Italian Catholics are nothing if not faithful. And he was faithful. For friends, Mark would say, if you want to attend his service simply be outside, be somewhere, away from the things of man. He will come find you in the wind, in a song or in a memory. You will find his hug in the warmth of the sun and his smile will kiss your face with the season’s first rain. He would simply ask that you remember him, and stories, and the fun. Forgive him his trespasses, for he never kept count of yours. He was human after all, and sometimes the struggle to find your footing can be hard, especially when you are constantly looking up to the stars.
Mark leaves behind a small child, Jack Emerson, named after two authors, Jack London and Ralph Waldo Emerson. And like the tales told by the two, Jack is called to be wild and adventurous. His last words for Jack before he left were “Remember the feelings, for those are the most important things. Remember how I made you feel, for I will always remember how you made me love.”
Today the man in the moon gained a friend in the stars, the universe expanded a bit further, and the sun burns a bit brighter. The measure of a man is often in how they make you feel, and the stronger the feeling the longer the memories will last. Mark hoped he gave you enough to last a lifetime.