mark – these are some of the places where we should have met again after graduation put us on our separate paths.
i don’t know what tense to use in this letter. past or present? our friendship is? our friendship was? you might have left but the friendship is still there. i know you? i knew you? you might be gone but i still know mark. i loved you? i love you? oh, i could never put that in the past tense.
the pronouns are a bit more difficult. you never personally told me, and i’m only finding out through the internet. but it seems there is no question that you identify more as she or they. so i will respect you. and i will use the pronoun you wanted everyone to use.
you decided to leave while i was living in my malian bubble. no internet, no email, no connection beyond the text messages from my fellow peace corps buddies in mali.
you died on march 12th. the malian military threw a coup on march 21st. i didn’t find out about you until march 24st when i had internet access again.
and – something was wrong with me. i didn’t cry for you. i didn’t react. no panic attacks came. i called everyone, i skyped, i talked, i made contact with our closest friends, i did all the things one should do when grieving – except the emotions for mourning you were missing.
where did they go?
1. i was in the middle of reading dune by frank herbert. and there is a character (duncan idaho) that is continually brought back to life and reborn at the push of a button. because of that, i had no concept of death. you were going to come back in my fantasy world. i wouldn’t accept the words suicide or death – i was convinced that those things didn’t happen in my life. i’m sorry.
2. i couldn’t handle mali and mark at the same time. i had to get over leaving mali first. i don’t believe i could’ve functioned as a human being if i had to grieve you both at the same time. so i completely shut you out as i focused on moving on from mali in france. i’m sorry.
3. i never got to meet you in chicago. i never got to know the mark you became. just like there is american cathy and french cathy, there is texas mark and chicago mark. how could i mourn a part of you i didn’t know? so the last few months, trust me, every blog post by one of your chicago friends, every article by a fan written online, i have read their words. i have done google searches on your name for any snippets about you. i have dug up anything and everything related to mark aguhar. since you’re not there, i’m learning about chicago mark thanks to the internet.
then i needed to go to chicago. i needed to see parts of the city that you loved so much that were part of who you became. thanks to your brother, i had a whole list of places to visit you loved. i wanted to meet your friends too, but i didn’t know how to contact them. perhaps another day. i only had to imagine you were with me. i should have visited chicago sooner when you were still there. i’m sorry.
and when they were ripe – we ate them. we ate so many peaches. we had so many peach tarts until all that was left in the apartment were peach pits.
well, one peach. for you and christine to share. i wanted to leave them all for you, but then realized that rotting peaches on your tombstone wouldn’t be so nice. and nobody would enjoy them. i knew you’d be angry if i wasted good peaches like that. so i just gave them to your parents. i hope they enjoy them as much as i know you would have.
but before i end this letter, i want you to meet someone.
and while you left this world, someone else came in to fill in part of the spot you left.
death, birth, life - such a delicate balance. i’m still trying to figure it out.
but then, josephine is going to grow up with you nearby. kelly has some of your drawings around the house. and i am sure kelly will pass on your spirit, your stories, your laughs, your memories to little josephine. so i take that back about josephine being unlucky, she’s super lucky because she’s one degree away from you.
i miss you mark.
lots of love, and i do mean lots,
PS: just because you are gone doesn’t mean i am backing down from our rice vs. bread argument. i’m still determined to bake a loaf that will make you realize that bread, indeed, is, has been, and will always be, the tastier carb.
PPS: all the issues you are passionate about – LGBT rights, gender queer, femme, fat, self-love, etc. – i promise to support it all. its just, right now, i need to say goodbye to you before i can tackle all the things you stood for.
PPPS: i am a bit mad that i didn’t have a chance to tell you my brownie story. or my camping story. mark, i had three years of good stuff to talk to you about. but its okay, we’ll meet again somewhere, some day, and we’ll catch up then. love you!