Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Fading Lights

I got word that a friend of ours from 1978 died last week of pancreatic cancer. I haven't seen Mark in over 30 years but this news upset me terribly. He was a GI who our pastor had met while canvassing at a rock concert. He was converted and I never met a more charming and warm person. Mark always had a smile and when he talked to you he looked directly into your eyes. He sometimes preached and he was so good. He meant everything he said and he always said good things. There was such a sincerity in Mark Gonzales. Over the years we wondered about him and his wife Terri. Where were they? What happened to them?

 As soon as I heard the news I immediately thought, "I have to tell Jerry. He'll be so upset." And of course, that is impossible. Because Jerry is dead, too.

And so went the evening. I came home and simply became something else. Less than human, really. I didn't know what I was crying for and all I could really think about was how much darker the world becomes when the bright lights are turned off and how so many of the lights in my life had gone out. Too soon.

In 1978-79 we all lived in a place called King's Kastle, a church, christian school, and, lol, nearly a commune. It was a big old house in Frankfurt, three floors and a huge basement with a wine cellar that was turned into another living area. Communal kitchen on the first floor but some of us had small electric burners in our rooms.  I actually had a tiny two burner, bread-boxed sized stove! Our room was probably 20x12. Every room on second, third and basement floors were living areas for tenants. The pastor and his wife, a bit more than mine and Jerry's age, lived on the second floor. School and church were on the first floor.

Jerry and I lived on the third floor and I was pregnant with Mike. It is here we met Mark, and a dozen others we came to feel were family. Soldiers, some with their families, far from home who found a warm place. We had church together, potlucks, ball games, parties, and even shopping trips. We had our own spaces, but we shared our lives. I've never had such a wonderful experience as living in that place.

Today I remembered it. And wished for it again.

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