So there we go, eh, Mark?
When I wrote this for you back in December, I said I assumed you would have no funeral, no loved ones to care and no closure to mark your passing.
How wrong I was.
On Tuesday I went to the funeral I never thought you would have.
Your mum was there, and your twin sisters as well as some old family friends and some new friends from recent years.
It’s clear that you were indeed loved.
So the inevitable question - why did you take the path that you did?
No one can answer that.
It’s perhaps hardest of all for the people who loved you as a child to come to terms with – that you made a choice to live the way you did.
You were a free spirit, Mark, and you defied the stereotypes.
You’ve taught me a lot since you left this life behind, Mark.
You taught me never to make assumptions ...
And that there are no easy answers.
We see someone who seems to be on a self-destructive trajectory and we want to know why, we need reasons, justification, meaning ...
If we believe it’s because they suffered unbearable pain and abuse, it somehow comforts us.
Ah, we say, so that’s why it happened.
And then we secretly reassure ourselves it could never happen in our own families.
The truth is far more subtle.
Like I say – no easy answers.
Maybe we’re just not asking the right questions.
Thank you for enabling me to meet your family, Mark.
I think I know why you never told me about your lovely sisters – you were protecting them.
We plan to meet again soon, when we’ll visit your bash on
Our lives will continue, but forever affected by what happened in yours.
I couldn’t hear what was said at the funeral, but your family were kind enough to give me a copy of the moving speeches made, referring to the ‘happy, lively boy, full of energy and enthusiasm’ they had known as a child.
So next time any of us sees someone who is homeless, we should take some time to wonder.
They may well have a tragic background filled with abuse and pain.
(And there is no doubt that life on the streets is brutal and fraught with
But they also might have a kind and loving family who are left wondering where they could possibly have gone wrong.
Everyone has their own unique story to tell.
You may not have been born a child of the streets, Mark, but it was ultimately your choice as an adult to live in the way that you did.
Oh and I’ve remembered something else too.
You knew all the people who ran the florist stalls in the station.
They would give you the flowers that were considered just past their best.
You would put them in jars and pots around your bash, to brighten up the days of those who passed by.
One day, I came along and you were waiting for me.
You gave me a huge bouquet.
I was blown away.
When I arrived at work everyone wanted to know who had given me these beautiful flowers.
I watched the confusion on their faces as I told them they had been given to me by a friend who was homeless.
See, Mark? That’s what I mean about you defying the stereotypes.
And so fare thee well, Mark Reid, Stargazer.
We’ll see you on the dark side of the moon.