[Due to my site being hacked, I’ve had to repost a couple of pieces I wrote about Mark, as I was processing my grief in the aftermath of his death. The world is truly a cruel and heartless place at times. This was originally posted on Jan. 25.–jb]
As a late-blooming writer, I’ve maintained a commitment to working on my craft. Along the way, I’ve read a myriad of books that spoke about the writing process. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a book that talks about writing through grief, or possibly, how to put words on paper when your heart’s been ripped out and run over several times.
That’s a pretty shitty metaphor, I know. I’m just trying to paint a word picture of what I’ve been feeling since 10:30, Saturday night, when the trooper from the Maine State Police knocked on our door and delivered the news to Mary and me that our beloved son, Mark, had been hit by an SUV in Fort Walton County, Florida, and killed. Our lives as they’d been up to that moment were forever altered.
I’m sure regular readers have read one of a host of stories that have been written about Mark over the past few days. In fact, looking at my blog stats, I know that many more new readers are here as a result of searches and links from Mark’s site, after you heard, or read one of them.
Honestly, I don’t even know what to write this morning. But it’s a Wednesday, and I’ve kind of adopted this day as my new, middle-of-the-week blog-posting time.
I actually have an article that I have to finish today in order to submit it and get paid. I was going to try to complete that assignment when I got up after lying in bed for an hour, talking to Mary, crying, and trying to frame some understanding about why someone like Mark—a really amazing human being—was dead. We didn’t come up with a single answer. Probably because there are none.
We loved our son more than life itself. I often thought I’d be willing to lay my own life down to save his. I know this morning—if there was some way possible—I’d step in front of that SUV and let it maim and kill me, instead. But life isn’t like that. You don’t get a do-over.
Instead, we’re left to pick up the pieces of our lives, knowing that we’ll never see or get to hug our 33-year-old son, ever again. What I wouldn’t give to feel his massive shoulders and have him squeeze the life out of me with just one more hug.
When someone you love is killed in another state, it’s no easy process to get them home. Thankfully, I’m working with a wonderful funeral director, and the wheels have begun turning and Mark’s going to be coming back to Providence, soon.
He loved his adopted city, and the people of that place loved him back. We’re seeing the evidence of that in an amazing way and have been since I posted the announcement on Mark’s Facebook page, letting his friends and followers know that he’d been killed. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever had to write and post and I hope I never have to do that again.
Thank you to all of Mark’s many friends, colleagues, members of the Brown University community, and countless others that have showered Mary and I with your love, empathy, and support over the past three days. Day number four will probably be just as hard as the first day was, after we knew Mark was gone.
Knowing how much Mark was loved by so many allows some shards of light to penetrate the darkness that we’re living in the midst of.
I’ll work at coming up with something more uplifting and less about my grief very soon. Maybe it will be something as simple as sharing stories about our larger-than-life son that was senselessly mown down by a driver that didn’t maintain control of her 5,000 pound lethal projectile, better-known as an SUV.
Mark loved the idea of super-heroes, and played at being one. I’m finding out that to many of you that’s what he was. But not even someone as strong and centered, and physically imposing as Mark is any match for an SUV at traveling at 60 mph (or maybe it was traveling faster than that).
Being down a super-hero at this time in history really, really sucks!
[Mark Baumer was walking across America to raise awareness about climate change when he was senselessly killed by an errant SUV. He was also raising money for the FANG collective in Providence, an organization committed to fighting the construction of power plants in places like Burrillville, Rhode Island and the construction of a Liquid Natural Gas facility in South Providence. In addition, FANG has had a presence at Standing Rock, helping the indigenous people protect their water from pipelines. Mark was a member and had worked personally with them in their efforts. Think about making a donation in Mark’s name so they can continue fighting against the short-sighted energy policies of the Trump administration. You can do so, here.- Mary and I have also established the Mark Baumer Sustainability Fund, to continue his work, locally, in Providence.–ib]