Thursday, February 28, 2008

Mark Reid: every end is also a beginning.

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
London Bridge.
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.

I imagined a soundtrack – Led Zeppelin, Stairway to Heaven, and perhaps some Pink Floyd.
And afterwards they told me these were indeed the tracks played during the service.

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.
The flowers.
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.


Yodood said...

Your choice of Time as the piece of Pink Floyd to represent Mark is perfect. It is a song about the misfits, outcasts, iconoclasts, heretics, loners, free thinkers who just cannot bury their uniqueness in conformity to civilization's fears. Thank you gold fish.

After seeing your pics from your recent weekend I should say, red fish.

Unknown said...

Really heartfelt post Debi. I'm glad that you followed this one through and I agree with greggra&gar about 'Time' one of my fav Floyd pieces of all time.

The bouquet story brought tears :/

Unknown said...

Home, home again
I like to be here when I can
And when I come home cold and tired
Its good to warm my bones beside the fire
Far away across the field
The tolling of the iron bell
Calls the faithful to their knees
To hear the softly spoken magic spells.

- Time, PF

Magick comes in many different forms, Debi.

Anonymous said...

If he was that much of a friend, how come you didn't offer him a place to live and help him out instead of using his memory to generate a stilted feel good prosey piece about You and not Reid, the narrator going for a respectful tenor, some wise empathetic sage instead of a vacuous old bag..

Russel Brand

Anonymous said...


Please forgive me. I am a heroin addicted rent boy and just a bitter straight person who life has rewarded with a complex of addictions and jealousies to feed, so take no heed of what i say, a coward junkie hiding behind the anonymous cloth.

I beg for a living and am currently typing this from a cafe in the downtown district, wondering what next to hustle up, what mad scheme to concoct to turn a buck and so please accept my apologies for saying untrue things...

Unknown said...

Always questions, always wondering. We need to justify things, don't we, need our answers, always trying to understand, to make sense of things. And sometimes things are just as they are, as they are meant to be, no matter how hard it is for us to accept that. We walk our own paths, make our own choices - journey on in accordance with some far grander plan than most of us can ever see.

Debi said...

G&G, Cailleach, Minx - thanks for understanding.

Ab Van - this is how I've come to see Mark's choices now.

Anonymous - the point about Mark is that he was housed eventually but spent little time there. He chose to remain on the streets where he had a community and a role as protector and mentor to many people more vulnerable than he was. He was very special.

I'm sorry your initial reaction was to feel I had used his memory in some way for my own ends. That was never my intention, but you don't know me so I can understand why you might think that. All I can do is assure you that I do check myself, my actions and my motivations constantly.

You don't need to apologise for your comment. I can see that it was more to do with you than it was with me.

There's nothing I can say to make your life any better except to assure you that there are people who don't judge and who do care. I hope you have access to such people in your life and wish you strength and healing.

Unknown said...

Assumptions,eh? We all make them,Anonymous. You made an assumption about Debi that is as far from the truth as you can possibly get but if I know Debi as well as I think I do I know that there is no need to ask for forgiveness.

I would also make the assumption from your writing, Mr Anon, that you have a sharp brain sitting between yer ears.

Vacuous old bag - heh!

Saaleha said...

HIya Debi,

I've missed you. But blogosphere has continued moving - without me. I'm sorry for your loss. And yes, you two will most certainly meet again. (hug)

Sharon J said...

What you wrote about Mark being a mentor and protector gave me a deeper understanding of somebody who's touched my own life. Thanks, Debi x

Anonymous said...

hi debi,as you know i also have spent a lot of time living on the streets,if its living,its survival.
,on a hour by hour day by the downtown blogger knows all to well,street life can leave you with a invisiable mark which will be always there for the rest of your life,you see the best and the worst, of the human race,the greed,the poverty,kindness that you you showed to mark,even just stopping to have a chat,is precious....
"you can take the man of the street,but its very hard to take street out of the man"
hugs homelesschicken X

Anonymous said...

homelesschicken here i felt i just had to write some more, theres no such thing as a coward junkie,its in the face,by this i mean,hustle, hustle, hustle,hustle,and even the word used junkie in blog is suspect...theres plenty of users around on the streets,and ive yet to hear one call themselves a junkie, its all about self denial..downtown meatrack i think you are not the person, you make yourself out to be...
thats it,out of my system..
street talk

Debi said...

Minx - never doubt how well you know me!

Saaleha - you're often in my mind. Sending hugs back to you.

Sharon - I'm so pleased that this has given you insights meaningful in your own life. We have Mark to thank for that, not me.

HC - I was hoping you might see this post. Thank you for your invaluable perspective as always. You're very precious! And once again your wisdom is appreciated. It's true what you say - the word 'junkie' is one I've never heard used by anyone to whom it's applied.

Anonymous said...

hi debi, homelesschicken still pecking,as i have counted the comments,decided to make the figure now 14 comments made..and as a matter of interest Dave Gilmor from Pink Floyd gave CRISIS in London i think nearly 4 million pound,and as you may know this is Homeless charity,one of the better ones i may add
hugs homelesschicken x

Debi said...

HC - now you've told me something I didn't know! Good on him. Hope the £££ went to the people who need it most!