Needless to say, the evening was simultaneously hugely enjoyable and personally very difficult. I was floored that so many people I knew from the years I'd spent with Mark were not only present, but that they were delighted to see me again. "Hairy Chris!" you'd keep hearing people yell from across the room who wanted to introduce me to their fiancées or who just wanted to be safe in knowing that all of Mark's friends were there.
It was understandably a pretty motley crew of characters: high school friends, Lodgers, a few Bears, some colleagues, etc. One thing I always loved about Mark was his insisting on not ruling out any one social group in favor of another; he was perfectly at ease spending time at the rodeo with friends from the Rawhide, or hanging out with bruins at the Lone Star, or playing rugby with fellow ruggers, or spending time with his friends' children - they were all his friends, and I have to say I had never expected the feeling of camaraderie that stretched from one group to another. Sammy, Tony, Dylan, Dave, Staiman, all the Lodgers I knew from the early 90s - they were universally welcoming and happy to see me. Well, maybe not John Boyle, but he was probably too trashed to figure out who I was. Heck, even guys I didn't know that well (1F? Am I spelling that right?) came up out of nowhere and gave me bearhugs - amazing.
I was especially happy to see Paul - he seemed to be holding up under the strain as well as might be expected. Woofy as always, he took his turn at the mic and reminded us all over again in five minutes what a wonderful man Mark was.
Mali, Amanda, Damon, Cameron, Todd... all of Mark's friends from Los Gatos and beyond were there, and just as great as I remembered them. I never knew Damon could speak so well in public - guess everyone's grown in unexpected and unexpectedly good ways over the past ten years.
Mark's gone and there's no changing that, and I'm only just now realizing it. Dave, I think it was, said he still had the feeling that Mark might walk into the room at any second, and I have that feeling too; I'm starting to think I'll never be free of that feeling - and that's okay, because it's a basically hopeful feeling, a hope that things will eventually be set right.
Thanks to everyone for a wonderful evening, but again special thanks to Alice for raising such a wonderful son.