This morning when I found out that Mark Lewis (who I knew from his time as MC at Faerieworlds) was dead I felt like I didn’t have the right to be as sad as I was. I mean, I didn’t really know him. I met him a few times. I he was an amazing story-teller, and it was impossible to not love the kind of joy he infused into everything he said and did. But that’s as close as I got, which isn’t very, so it surprised me when I read the news and was on the brink of tears.
I remained on the brink of tears when I wrote a small memory to post on the memorial website. I wrote about the time I saw him on campus and said hello, and we actually ended up talking a bit. He didn’t know me – I’d spoken to him a handful of times before, always briefly and in passing, but when it came up that I was moving to Sweden he was genuinely excited for me. He told me I wouldn’t even have to go looking for magic here. I could just step outside and dig my toes in the ground and it’d be there. And for some reason, in amid all the anxiety I was having about moving here, that was bright point for me. It was a sensation of recognition – like yes, that was one of the reasons I was coming here, and I’d almost forgotten it, and now I remember.
I cried some when I read SJ Tucker’s blog in memory of him. I thought about all of the notoriously, comically bad jokes he used to tell on the regular, and one time at the Winter Ball when he approached me and a friend before the festivities and told us a new one he’d been working on. I can’t remember it, but I remember laughing, as I always did, even though it really was one of the worst jokes I’d ever heard. But the laughter was genuine. In my limited experience, it always was around him.
I cried some more when I read her post about the The Ballad of Laurelei -- which is a beautiful song I didn't realize Mark had written. And I thought about all the stories he told, all the poetry he recited – from other writers and his own works. I remember sitting around the Neverworld’s stage with my Lost Boys friends and listening to him recite The Jabberwocky and an old ballad, and a poem about his recently deceased pet. And I remember being totally in awe, like “Whoa. People can still do this?” I thought it was a lost art, that kind of story-telling.
It’s just kind of bizarre to think that his life and light are no longer in this world.
Except his light is still here. That much is obvious by just scrolling through the sheer number of memories people have shared on the memorial website in the past couple of days. He left a light in a lot of people’s lives – evidence to the fact that he lived his life well.
And that’s the other part that makes me feel like I shouldn’t be so sad. He lived his life well. He left his light with so many, many people. I can only hope to do half so much good for people’s hearts. And that’s why we’re sad – we don’t get to have him for ourselves anymore. It’s reasonable. It’s understandable. It’s hard to be left behind.
And being left behind reminds us that we’ll be left behind again, and that someday we’ll leave everyone else behind, as well. It reminds us that our lives are borrowed. And it’s hard to know what to do with that. I’m not sure there is anything to do with it at all.
Except for celebrate the time we have. Sing songs, dance when the musicians play, tell stories, tell jokes, make each other smile. And when we experience loss and heart ache, as we inevitably will – let ourselves cry. Reach out to the people we love. Hold them, let them hold us. Let ourselves grieve just as fully as we let ourselves laugh and sing. And if we’re really good at celebrating the fact that we’re fucking alive, against all the insurmountable odds, maybe we’ll find a way to leave as many lights in our wake as Mark did. Gods know we need more lights.