At Mark’s funeral, a church friend recalled his wisdom. The friend, who admitted to have complained about something trivial at the time, heard Mark say, “Oh, it’s not so bad. We’re just passing through this life!”

My brother passed through this life and left his mark.

 

Pennsylvania Boy

         

 

Emerging Young Man

       

Mark Longenecker, age 20
Artist Cliff Beaman, 1973

 

 

Father and Son, riding bikes from Rheems, Pennsylvania to Gettysburg, a distance of nearly fifty miles

 

 

Dad’s Helper at the Shop

Stool art courtesy of Cliff-Toon Stools by Cliff Beaman, 1985

 

Family Life

Longenecker family portrait circa 1961: Mark, Marian, Janice, Jean with parents

 

 

Mark and Betty Longenecker, 1991

 

Mark and daughter Kiki

 

 

 

Helping Hands: with Mother Ruth and Aunt Ruthie – moving house, standing by, walking dog.

 

       

The Memorial Service

Son Joel Beaman’s photo of Mark in the barn changes hands here. It will soon become a fixture on the wall of Gus’s Coffee Shop.

 

The Most Surprising Thing . . .

I had no idea how loved Mark was. The revelation of my narrow vision began in hospice where his friends from Bossler Mennonite Church and Gus’ Restaurant came to visit. Their visits were not token encounters. They came again and again: pastor Fred and wife Linda, folks from his small group at church, other members. Many visited repeatedly: faithful friends who sat with Mark around the counter in the coffee shop area of Gus’ café/restaurant. They sometimes brought food for him (grits and special water he liked) and soup or barbequed chicken for us, the family who held vigil. They told us, “He always had a smile; he fit in here.” “He sold me his truck. It still works good.” “I got his stamp collection!”

Of course, I loved my brother Mark too, but in recent years I had concentrated on helping him manage his finances, find an apartment, get new glasses, dentures. Like Anne Lamott expresses in Stitches: A Handbook on Meaning, Hope, and Repair, recently I saw him from a different perspective, through other people’s eyes:

She started to learn after all these years that her child was, a strange and friendly man to many people. The more that townspeople share their details with her, the better she could see him reflected in their face, in the great insect eye of the town that saw her son from so many directions. He went from being her loved but ruined child, a loner, to also a childhood comrade remembered from the past, a friend to an old lady . . .  (69 – 70)

The Hardest Thing . . . 

. . . is losing my brother, my only brother and twelve years younger than I. He was our family’s little buddy, my “practice” baby.

Losing a sibling is unique and it’s complicated, especially if the loss interrupts the normal sequence of birth order. Here is an article that addresses the issue of sibling loss.

         

       

 

The Conundrum of Grief

Grief, as I read somewhere once, is a lazy Susan. One day it is heavy and underwater, and the next day it spins and stops at loud and rageful, and the next day at wounded keening, and the next day at numbness, silence.

~ Anne Lamott, Small Victories: Spotting Improbable Moments of Grace


Have you lost a loved one recently? Perhaps a sibling? Someone younger than you?

What tips can you offer for coping with loss?

If you have memories of Mark, do share them here.

Thank you!

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