It is with a very heavy heart that I let you all know that Mark went "home home" last night (when he was in the hospital, he referred to Heaven as "home home"). I'm not really sure what to write here, because I feel like I've already shared it all.
Before Mark got sick, I only saw him a couple of times a year, when my dad would pick him up to go fishing or when we celebrated his birthday on Halloween. When I learned he had Stage 4 lung cancer, I was shocked. I went to the hospital for a visit, and after spending that afternoon with Mark, I was hooked on him!
All of my stupid little problems and worries of day-to-day life seemed to disappear when I was chatting with Mark. I always left feeling excited to see him again, because he had this way of making me feel so happy! With each visit, I really started to know Mark more and more. I wished that I'd visited him in the group home the way that I was visiting him in the hospital (and then nursing home). I wished that I'd have more time to spend with him.
Mark's attitude could reel anybody in. The nursing staff and doctors all fell in love with him from the first day he was admitted. How could they not, when he actually thanked them for giving him another injection or gross-tasting hospital food? He was so grateful to everyone that popped into his room, and he made sure to let them know it. He loved to share his candy with anyone that came in to see him.
Mark really wanted to fight this cancer, but he also knew that he may be going "home home" soon. He made it his mission to go home, back to his group home that he's known for over 35 years, and he did everything the nursing staff and therapists asked of him in order to get his wish. He did radiation treatments, chemo treatments, and physical and occupational therapy day after day in order to get well enough to go home.
And he did it! First, we brought him home for a day in order to let Mark throw a party for the other residents in the group home. He had gotten some money from his cards, and he wanted to spend it on a pizza and cake party for his friends. He had a great time, and I'm so happy that we were able to make that happen for him.
And after his treatments were done, he was finally discharged to go home. Once he got there, he was very content and happy to see his friends (who were like family to him), and to sleep in his own bed (he hated the hospital beds). I am grateful and happy that I got to spend a few minutes alone with him to say anything I'd like to say, knowing that his cancer had taken a turn for the worse.
Even though I've only truly gotten to know Mark over the last four months, his death is devastating to me. I wish that I had done more with him, and I wish that I could have done more for him in the end. But I think that Mark felt very loved over the last few months. He told everyone he came in contact with, "I have SO MANY people that care about me!" as he pointed to all of his cards.
I want to say a very heartfelt THANK YOU to all of you who sent him a card, gift, well-wish, prayer, or positive thought. The one positive thing to come out of Mark's illness and passing away is that he touched literally thousands of lives in one way or another. He was the most selfless person I've ever known, and he loved to do things for others.
In honor of Mark, and his loving and generous attitude, I want to ask all of you to do one last thing for him: Do a random act of kindness for somebody else. It doesn't have to cost any money (Mark didn't have any money, but he was always looking for ways to help people), or be anything extravagant; but I ask that you actively seek out a way to do something kind for someone else today (or whenever you can).
If you are unsure of what to do, I'd like to suggest visiting a nursing home. Mark spent a couple of months at a nursing home, and I was so sad for all of the people there who didn't get any visitors. Mark's room was decorated with cards, but most of the people there didn't have anything to show they are being thought about. You can really brighten someone's day by bringing them flowers, or a card, or to go and chat for a little while. Or bring them a strawberry milkshake--that's what Mark would probably suggest :)
If you care to, I'd love for you to post a comment here to share the random act of kindness that you did. Let's see just how many lives Mark can touch, even now that he is Home Home!