I can't say I recall meeting Mark. Some people just flow naturally in and out of your life over the years. Mark was one of those people.
I can say that I remember so many moments with Mark, however.
We first met sometime during college through a friend of a friend. Like I said.. as years pass, things seem to become less linear and more momentous. I can say that over the first five years that I knew him, we had many adventures and many soulful conversations - sometimes during and after long, inebriated nights; sometimes on quiet Sunday mornings on a musty couch outside on his deck; and sometimes while just moving through the Ordinary of days.
What I remember most was feeling like I was his best friend when I was with him. Now, to be clear, I am not claiming to have been a "best friend" in Mark's life. He had many "better" friends who shared more of his life. We were "good" friends at times in the ebb and flow of life. We shared many "great" times together and with others in his peer circle, prior to him getting married. I am proud to say that I hired him on more than one occasion (or made sure he was hired) because he was a true friend. But, ultimately, that tide seperated us for longer and longer periods of time. Still, he had an Honesty about him that was immediately and eternally endearing.
I remember running through the cornfields outside of Lawrence, KS one night in college while Candlebox's "Far Behind" was blasting from his car - doors open and windows rolled down. We had spent the evening playing video games and drinking in an arcade / bar where a local band was playing (we all know his soul was full of music). After we closed that down, we decided to just go "experience" the cornfields of Kansas at 2am. I'm not sure I can explain why we did it, but we did. We just decided that we live in Kansas and neither of us really understood cornfields and that made sense at the time.
That was the first time he met Edra, who is now my wife, over a decade ago. It was just the three of us and it was Something I'll Never Forget - as running through the summer cornfields at in the light of the moon was just something pointless and beautiful and unforgettable - and it was Mark's idea.
I remember the first time I watched the Wizard of Oz to Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon - because Mark wanted to show me how cool it was. He had that kind of Enthusiasm.
I remember Mark talking for hours about the brilliance and genius of Kurt Cobain. He had that kind of Passion.
I also remember him telling me about how, soon, the KC Royals would be good again. That was almost ten years ago. He had that kind of Faith.
I remember him talking about his family's trips to Disneyworld when he was in his early twenties. At the time, I didn't understand how someone could still get excited about Mickey Mouse and Disney at 22 years old. But, years later, and after visiting myself just last month, I can understand what Mark saw. More exactly, it wasn't what he saw but how he saw it - through the eyes of a child. He had that kind of Innocence.
I remember talking to him about so many things. But, what is most remarkable, perhaps, about Mark was that not once did he ever really say anything negative about someone. Come to think of it, I can't recall anyone ever saying anything negative about Mark. Now, this isn't hyperbole for effect - Mark Holt was that kind of person. If you met him, you truly felt like had always known him and always would know him and there was just nothing about Mark that wasn't Endearing.
Over the years, things change. We drift apart. At times, we drifted back together for moments and talked as if a day hadn't passed. We always ended our talks by planning a get-together in the near future - for him to see Edra again or meet my children, which would have meant a lot to me - for the reasons I've already detailed. But, time passes and with Mark battling Hodgkins Disease over so many years, those plans have yet to come to fruition.
However, several times I've battled with the thought of why someone golden like Mark would have to endure so much while others pass easily through this life.
After searching my heart and much prayer, the only thing that comes to my heart and mind is that God has a very important plan for him; Having touched so many in This Life, it only makes sense that God would bring him home first - to shepherd in the souls of all those who, upon seeing him, would know they had found Heaven. Someday, when Those He Touched pass from This Place, Mark will be there to hug Us and welcome Us to the Next Place.
And so with that tiniest morsel of consolation, there is a universe of Reason and Hope. And in the end, all of those who Mark touched will honor him in a myriad of ways, publicly and privately. And in this new beginning, Mark has gifted us again with his undying ability to bring together all of those who love him.
Nothing Gold Can Stay
Nature's first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leafs a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.
Robert Frost, 1923