The Celebration

I’ve written an obituary for our son. Then there were several days worth of interviews following his senseless death along US 90 in Florida, when he was struck and killed by a motorist. Mary has been dealing with all manner of details related to Mark’s life (and death), too.

Yesterday, we gathered with hundreds on hand at Brown University (and many, many more watching the celebration on live stream) and told what our son meant to us as parents. So did an amazing gathering of people from across Mark’s life.

Program cover-The Mark Baumer Celebration of LIfe

Two weeks out from losing Mark, today is similar to every other day since we received the news that fateful Saturday night. We’ll never not remember the date, time, and what we experienced then—a sense that time was standing still.

Yesterday was beautiful on so many different levels. The outpouring of love and appreciation for Mark and how he lived his life touched both of us to the core. At times we have been incredulous–not because we didn’t think Mark was special–but at the sheer volume of validation that we were being impacted by. Validation like this is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced on this planet.

We are grateful beyond words for everyone’s love and support the past two weeks.

Now that the celebration is behind us, the heavy lifting begins. How do we as loving parents process our grief? I vacillate between being sad and angry. Then, there are the tears that are never too far away.

As Mary beautifully expressed yesterday, we were “a unit of three,” closely intertwined in various ways. For 33 years, every member of that unit faithfully executed their role, often flawlessly. We’re now down to two. That realization occasionally makes breathing difficult.

We loved being Mark’s parents. That will never change. However, our roles have been forever altered. We’re not enjoying this new iteration, one bit.

Today is also an odd day for us, too. After two weeks of endless tasks related to bringing Mark home, being directly involved in the planning of yesterday’s event, there’s nothing pressing, demanding our immediate attention. Family is checking out of our hotel and properties scattered around Providence. Others that have supported us and assisted in making Mark’s celebration an event to remember are headed back to their lives in other cities. We’re staying over for one more day. We have to deal with having our car vandalized on Friday night and getting two passenger-side windows repaired. I know, as if we needed one more thing added to our already full plate of tasks.

Mary and I are survivors, however. We’ll figure out a way forward.

Mark would have wanted that for us.

Missing, by Mark Baumer