This post is mostly for Andy and I. It is a way of trying to record the the thoughts and feelings we've been having for the last week. Last Sunday we found out that one of Andy's best friends had passed away. He had been diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gerhig's disease) in 2009.
When Andy and I were dating and after we got married I had heard a lot about Mark. I heard lots of funny stories and we spent quite a few nights with Mark and his wife Elizabeth. As often happens, life got in the way, and we didn't see Mark and Liz as much as we wanted. Despite that, the fact that Mark was Andy's best friend never changed. He was always there. When Mark became a police officer he would come to our house and bang on the front door yelling "Mesa PD". One time my school got broken into and Mark was the responding officer. He called me and met me at the school, where he proceeded to walk around with me just to make sure that I and my classroom were okay.When we found out that Mark had been diagnosed with ALS it was really hard. We went to rallies and benefits for him and despite it all he was still Mark. One of the last times I saw Mark was at a benefit for him at Mesa High. At this point Mark was in a wheelchair and was only able to talk by using this computer that he typed on by using his eyes. When we walked up and Mark saw us the first thing he said to Andy was "Settle down". This was a joke between them and we will always remember that moment.
Andy's parents told us that Mark had passed away last Sunday. That afternoon we went over to Mark and Liz's house to see Liz. She told us what had happened and was very calm. I remember how calm and peaceful it felt in their home. Monday was a hard day for me. It was hard for Andy to express his emotions, but I was doing enough of that for both of us. The viewing was Friday night. It was amazing to see how many lives Mark had touched. When we got to the viewing there were tables set up with pictures of Mark and his family. They also had his police uniform on display. 2 officers stood guard by the casket. We saw Mark's parents first. They both hugged us and I overheard both of them tell Andy how much Mark loved him. We saw Mark's brothers and they both told Andy the same thing. Finally we saw Liz. Andy went over and gave her a big hug. He had written her a letter and she thanked him for it and then said, "I hope you know how much Mark loved you." It was amazing. Here she is...heartbroken and yet she can still find words of comfort to give to Andy. I gave her a hug, but I couldn't think of anything to say. "I'm sorry..." didn't seem enough. We just looked at each other and she smiled and then we moved away to make room for more people.
Saturday was the funeral. Because Mark was a police officer his funeral was with the complete honor guard and everything. I can't put into words how touching it is to see all these officers in uniform paying tribute to their friend. The funeral was very sweet. Sad and emotional, but funny and uplifting. Mark's family shared memories and funny stories of him and Andy was sitting beside me going, "Yep...that was Mark" and "I remember that...". On our way to the cemetery Andy was very quiet. I asked him how he was feeling and he said "I didn't want the funeral to end. I just wanted them to keep talking about Mark."
Today was a hard day. I have been crying on and off since Friday. I have so many emotions right now. Part of me feels guilty for being so sad. Especially when Liz and Mark's family are the ones going through this. I feel heartbroken for Mark's 5 kids. I feel inspired by Liz and her countless hours of service. I feel honored to have known Mark.