Created by mflynn227 6 years ago
“You hear about your boy?”
This was the start to countless phone calls between Mark Harris and me. Mark absolutely loved to be “in the know” with regards to what was happening in his friends’ lives. And he especially liked to keep us up to date with each other.
And so it was ironic that one of my friends actually passed the news about Mark on to me. That was always Mark’s job.
Mark was the most popular man I have ever known. This was on display at the hospital last week as countless friends showed up after hearing the news. That waiting area was packed, the halls got congested, and the phones kept vibrating with messages asking if it was true. All for Mark.
As we sat in that hospital room, Erin recounted stories of Mark passing on music to everyone. Just then I realized that Mark did that with everything. He was passionate about so much in life: Erin, fatherhood, music, education, political beliefs, sports, movies. And something I recognized just then was that Mark wanted everyone to see the way he saw, to look through his eyes and listen with his ears. Rarely did I visit his home that he didn’t ask me if I had heard a certain album. If I said no, he was quick to burn that album along with 5 more like it. He wanted me to enjoy what he enjoyed.
And so it was with his multiple groups of friends. He wanted you to love the same people he loved. Look at the group of people at the hospital. Friends from his childhood talking to friends from high school consoling friends from college encouraging friends from the multiple basketball and softball leagues hugging the friends and family of his wonderful wife. I can’t tell you the number of times Mark invited my girls and me to his softball games. I don’t play softball. He wanted me to hang out with the wives and cheer on the team. I came a few times and he even asked me to fill in. (Not a good idea for either of us) But who else invites all of his friends on a tropical vacation to celebrate his wedding anniversary? Mark.
I am a confident man, but it makes me smile to recall the pride I took in Mark Harris asking me to stand up for him in his wedding. Mark had so many friends. I was just happy I knew him. When others tell me how sorry they are for my loss, I feel selfish for thinking that way. I am just one man. So many more are feeling this loss that worrying about my lack of sleep or bouts of tears seems so insignificant.
It’s ironic that even in death, Mark brings us all together again. I don’t know if that’s as ironic as it is beautiful. Watching the students, parents, teachers, and administrators present at Shorewood High School Thursday night was one of the most amazing displays of love I have ever witnessed. I always knew Mark was a great man…I just didn’t know everyone knew about it!!!
I chuckled as kids and teachers talked of a man that was so respected for his intelligence and wit. I wasn’t chuckling because it was in any way untrue. I was chuckling because I saw the early stages of this wit used in a much different capacity. No one talked more smack than Mark. It’s not even close. We played so much basketball. Pick up games were not hard to find and Mark’s height had him second guessed a lot. Minds were changed almost immediately when he coupled incredible ridicule with a dunk in someone’s face. It was that quick wit that had people dumbstruck that had began so sure they could “take” Mark. You couldn’t take him on the basketball court and there was no way of you making him back down in a “debate”. Never have I seen a man his height talk so many people out of messing with him. It was ironic that the shortest man on the court caught the least amount of flack. I was always happy that I was on his side.
And lastly, I can’t help but note the irony of the strongest man, both physically and mentally, I have ever known passing at such an early age. I would have never supposed that Mark could be taken from us so soon. He was Superman in all of our eyes. The only answer I can think of comes from someone else, I believe a student of Mark’s. God must have wanted Mark near Him. I can understand that. I want Mark near me again too.