“Brilliance” - often defined as something having great brightness - a sparkling, radiant quality. Brilliance is excellence, distinction, splendor, magnificence - consider a rainbow.
Those close to Mark understood just how multifaceted a person he was. On the surface, the quiet, gentle soul, unrevealing and private, yet very social, humorous and very much a centerpiece in any given social circle and underneath all that, remarkably deep, and extraordinarily layered. He could take a seemingly simple situation and spin it into a philosophical moment – in essence, creating a memory where most of us wouldn’t have paid the slightest attention.
Mark’s relationships with family and friends were solid and deep. Friendships that lasted 20 to 30 years, based on a common love for classic cars, music and an appreciation for the outdoors. Quad trips, snowmobile trips, camping, driving, working in the yard, or even just sitting in the driveway, that’s where Mark wanted to be. With his family, with his friends, or even just by himself. If he could be outside, he was outside.
To know Mark is to know he was a family man first and everything else second. He wasn’t “A family man”, he was “THE family man”. That is where the bar was set. He was the standard. He was a wonderful husband and best friend to his wife. He was so incredibly proud of his daughters. Mark shared a kindred spirit with his girls. They were his purpose. As was always the case, he understood that each moment mattered. Spending time with them mattered.
Mark was a warrior, his enduring strength and resilience almost super-human. He spent a great deal of his adult life battling Crohn’s Disease, and rarely, if ever, would you hear him speak a word of it. He was modest and proud, and never would he draw attention to himself. Mark would reflexively deflect praise, shift the attention, or move the spotlight. To invite it would go against every fiber of his being.
Mark’s diagnosis was sudden and harsh. He was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin's Hepatosplenic T-cell Lymphoma. In the 85 days that followed, he remained the man we all knew him to be. He continued to put his family and friends first. He spent time with his wife, daughters, family and friends; maintaining his calm, loving nature, no matter how terrible he felt. On his first night at the Cross Cancer Institute, he watched a notice for Light the Night from his hospital bed. It became daily that he saw it and he would watch praying that he would one day be walking with a white “survivors’ lantern. This would not be the case. Sadly, Mark lost his battle with cancer November 29th, 2013.
Mark’s family knew that one day, they would walk with gold lanterns, in memory of their hero. In 2016, at SACHS while in high school, Mark’s oldest daughter began the journey of walking in her first Light the Night Walk in honour of her dad. Two years later, both of Mark’s daughters walked together with their high school team and with their golden lanterns. The family has always seen the circumstance as one of fate; that their high school supported this specific cause. Upon the girls’ graduations, the plan was for family and friends to become participants and continue to support Light the Night and raise funds for those battling blood cancers. With the occurrence of COVID, this part of the journey would not come to fruition until October of 2022. For the two years in between, Mark’s wife and daughters raised funds and did the walk quietly on their own. Although Light the Night was not yet “in person” in 2022, Mark’s extended family and friends all joined together and walked their first walk together. This year, 2023 marks the tenth year since losing Mark to cancer. His family and friends unite to continue the journey and participate in this special walk that Mark first became aware of when he became ill. The fact that the Edmonton chapter for Light the Night is being hosted by SACHS, again is not a coincidence in the eyes of the family.
Mark was a natural leader, a leader by example, and he understood his impact on his surroundings and the people in his life. In honour of Mark, appreciate the moments, make memories and look at the world as Mark did; that a rainbow is indeed special - in a word, it, like Mark - simply, brilliant.