Bad Days

This morning, I received a phone call from one of my pledge brothers. It’s always good to talk to Gil, but there’s never a good time to get this type of call. “Marty, I don’t know if you’ve heard yet, but I got an email from Earl Adamy. Mark Brooks died this weekend.” I sat in silence for a second before I asked the obligatory, “How?” “I’m not sure yet, but I wanted to let you know. When I hear something, I’ll give you a call.”

It was just after 8 in the morning – the start of the day, the end of a life all in the span of a phone call. We chit-chatted for a bit, but you could tell that neither of us knew really how to grasp the news. Mark was a fraternity brother of ours, a few classes older but close enough that we were in the house with him for a bit. He was my roommates big brother and so I got to know him pretty well during the whole pledging thing. He was a quiet guy, with a soft, dry humor that came out of nowhere when you least expected it.

I’d only seen him once in the last few years, and for the life of me I can’t remember if it was at a party someone through, or at the house for Homecoming or even at last year’s poker tournament. Strange that you never think those moments might be the last time you see someone. There’s never any reason to think that it is – and even if you stopped to consider, and thought that you’d never see that person again, it was happenstance, that you just never connected over time and distance and family obligations and such. Never that one of you would die before the opportunity passed.

I still don’t know what happened, but in many ways it doesn’t matter. It’s a brother who’s passed far before his time, and the circumstances may add a touch of tragedy or solemnity or a shake of the head, but in the end it’s the fact that he has gone that really matters. His family is probably in shock; his pledge brothers likewise in their own ways; even the rest of us are surely wondering about our own mortality even as we try to remember the moments we shared with this man in and after college. For some, those memories will be painful to bear, while others will remember them as hallmarks of a good life. Either way, it’s the memories that remain in stories told over a cold beer, anecdotes at a summer barbecue and toasts given at the next home football game.

Until then, godspeed Mark. We’ll toast the old lady when next we meet.


One Response to “Bad Days

  • pauko27
    17 years ago

    Marty, this is incredible news. I am in shock and can’t believe it. I feel the same sentiments. I know I wasn’t as close with Mark as others, but it still hits hard either way. Let me know if you get any more information.

    I found your website doing a search of Mark’s name. I guess I should have remembered you put a site out there. Are you managing it yourself? I’ll have to spend some time looking at it.

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