The missing man

It’s true that you often can’t know how much someone meant to you until they are gone. No more Mark relaxing by the garage in the alley, having a leisurely smoke and chatting up anyone who has the time. I took for granted that half the time I went out our back gate, Mark would be there rain and shine, hanging out or working on his building, and we could talk about gardening, home life, weather, or whatever. Working from home, it’s fairly lonely and I interact with very few people on a daily basis, but Mark was one of the few. I lost count of how many times he made my day by saying hello and forcing me out of my bubble of isolation, including once when he stood with me and stuck up for me when a really obnoxious truck driver unapologetically ran over one of my gardens.

Yesterday I found out that I’ll never see Mark again. He had a heart attack and is gone. It’s nauseating to think that I’ll never get to see him again or have him chuckle at my constant running around (we both did a lot of random work around our condo buildings) or joke with him about the antics of our crazy neighbors.

Mark was one the first person to welcome me to the neighborhood and to learn my name, and to introduce me to other neighbors. He was always around, just being there and being social. I imagine his presence has deterred all kinds of crime (we’ve had almost no graffiti happen in that alley where he was always around), and fostered tons of goodwill over the years by forcing everyone to be more social. I wonder if he knew what an impact he had on my quality of life here, and how much he meant to everyone in the neighborhood. I will really miss him.