Ask Auntie Trash: Dim the Lights
In a break from her usual rant, Auntie Trash pays tribute to an old friend, taken too soon.
My friend died a few weeks ago. Those five words are hard to write, and even harder to say. My friend died suddenly and we don’t know why. It’s not really something that you can casually slip into conversation: “Hey, how are you? What are you up to? Oh, by the way, my friend died last week.” It is the most unnatural of sentences, for the most surreal of days. He is gone. Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone. Dim the lights on Broadway, we have lost one of our best.
Mark was exceptional. He was fabulous; loud, riotous and welcoming; you knew you were safe with him. He was a ball of energy, he made everyone welcome. We met when he was transferred to a restaurant that I had somehow found myself working in the year before. I was a 23 year-old drama graduate working in the kitchen and he was an 18 year-old waiter who’d just left home to go to university. A born performer, he would happily belt out a musical number whilst pirouetting perfectly, and always with that smile across his face. Mark’s grin could light up a whole building, not just the room that he was standing in.
He loved to dance and sing. I loved to stand and watch when the kitchen wasn’t busy. Even when the kitchen was busy, he would come running in from the restaurant, grab me by the shoulders and spin me around singing Don’t Rain on My Parade (‘Don’t tell me not to live, just sit and puttaaaa, life’s candy and the sun’s a ball of buttaaaaa’). Despite my reluctance to dance, and a worldview that was infinitely more pessimistic than his, we became friends.
When he wanted to try a deep fried Mars bar for the first time, I took him to Cafe Piccante. He took me to get one of those once oh-so fashionable fish pedicures in the dead of winter, and we sat side by side as these tiny fish nibbled at our toes. We once gatecrashed a pub quiz, took over the losing team and still lost. But Mark oh-so suavely managed to give his number to one of our team mates.
Mark had a packed social life; so many friends, dance practice, rehearsals, shows, university work, internships, volunteering, he gave his time and his enthusiasm so generously. A few years ago, he started going to New York to train, to dance and after a while, we fell out of contact. The last time I saw him was during the Fringe a few years ago, and we chatted about the musical I’d just been to, which of course, he’d already seen. We promised to gatecrash another pub quiz when he came back from New York, but we drifted apart instead, each of us too busy, too distracted, too far away.
I kept an eye on his adventures on Facebook. I knew he was due to be in a show in late February, and made a note to get back in touch. As the opening night drew nearer, I would often pass the theatre where he was due to perform and thought, “I will message Mark when I get home.” I said this to myself for weeks, “I must, no, I will message Mark when I get home”, repeating that line in my head and then forgetting as soon as I walked in the door. A few days ago I found out that it was too late, and the message remained unsent.
So here it is: Hi Mark, it’s Trash. I’m sorry I’m rubbish at keeping in touch. I’ve got so much to tell you. How’s the show going? I’m so proud of you. Do you fancy going back to the pub quiz at The Street? I’ll buy the first round.
I love you. xxx
1991 – 2017
If you are struggling with a loss, call Cruse Bereavement Care on 0845 600 2227, or visit crusescotland.org.uk