Sing your death song, and die like a hero going home. ~ Mohican Chief Aupumut, 1725
Ever notice that one doesn't grieve all at once? It sort of leaks, seeping through weeks & months, then years, arriving unexpectedly when one is in the middle of something else entirely, living life ~ & surprising everyone, you not least of all.
Ever notice grief is like a mongrel dog hanging round long after you have tired of throwing him the scraps ~ & are even tireder of the emotional upheaval? He has to be disciplined like an untrained puppy & brought to heel or he is impossible to live with.
Mark was my youngest brother ~ the one I distinctly remember suggesting my parents would be better off feeding to the sharks. I already had one brother. I didn't feel I needed any more. Oldest sisters are like that sometimes. Bossy. And opinionated. Territorial. I sensed I was outnumbered & there was no way to join the majority.
Besides Mark was impossible to live with. He was noisy. Man, was he noisy! He'd get up before the sun so he could go fishing & you'd lie tensely in bed waiting for every slammed door, the piercing whistle, the thunks & bumps & bangs ~ & even when the back door slammed behind him you knew it wasn't the end because he'd always forget something & be back!
We fought a lot. I once tried to put his head through a wall & he tried his knife throwing skills on me. Lack of anger management meant neither of us was terribly successful. Mark was social. I didn't want him being social with me; I'm not the social sort. We did not get along. At all. For my sins I got a child just like him. Blows me away sometimes.
I don't think anyone who ever met Mark ever forgot him. He once returned a girlfriend well past her curfew due to the proverbial flat tire. The next morning he arrived at her irate parents' dressed in sackcloth, sprinkled ashes over his head on their sparkling & pale coloured carpet while muttering, " Mea Culpea." Surprisingly, they forgave him. Carpet & daughter.
Out in the boat with Dearest & I one day he suddenly spotted a crab & simply went over the side after it. Mark was like that. People loved him for it.
He joined the navy because they promised to teach him to fly. Well, they promised to let him fly. He already had a light aircraft license. Took him up for his first acrobatics lesson ~ the one where they expect all their novices to be violently ill. Mark promptly made his instructor sick. He was fine. But we are talking about the lad who was the only body never to be ill at sea & once, to my father's immense angst, was sent into the cabin to make sandwiches [being the only body left standing] & returned with garlicky salami, pickles, ripe cheese...My father passed on the sandwiches but Mark wolfed the lot. Anyway the navy eventually grounded him because Mark just couldn't see his way to actually doing the academics. Anything sound familiar here? So Mark said, "Nice knowing you..." & moved on.
He did take up flying as a career ~ crop~dusting out west in N.S.W. The crop~dusters are yellow & Mark would borrow his for quick jaunts north to visit the folks & as he roared over Brisbane he would drop low over the coast & waggle his wings at us. "That's Uncle Mark! That's Uncle Mark!" the kids would scream racing down the road to keep his plane in sight for as long as possible.
Yep, the pernicky little brother became a pretty decent adult. We actually got on pretty well though Mark was a romantic & I was a historian so we were never going to see eye to eye over King Arthur & his Camelot. Uh~uh. Nope. I think my version is more interesting; Mark thought the facts ruined a good story.
Then one morning he was gone. Just like that. I woke up to my mother's phone call telling me he'd gone down in his plane, another aeronautical statistic for which there are never going to be any answers.
2006 was a difficult Christmas but life moves on. Even the deepest griefs have to give way to the imperatives of living. Our house sits under the flight path for the light aircraft ~ which was enough to send Star & I into a tail spin but we've got used to it. You can get used to anything given enough time ~ even little brother's dying before their time.
And then Alison posted on her FB wall that her master score for the Gothic went MIA with her luggage from her last trip & you know, Mark adored my girls. He had a son he adored but he thought my girls were something special [& naturally they adored him] & I thought how much Mark would have loved everything about the Gothic. It's bigness. It's over~the~top~ness. The drama & angst & the music. It is just his sort of thing, like Handel's Messiah. He would have egged Star on in her ditzy starry thing & cheered for Alison ~ & suddenly I miss him. I do know heaven hasn't been anywhere near as quiet since he got there.