My old friend Mark Fisk died Tuesday after a somewhat short struggle with brain cancer. I really wasn’t expecting this. Mark was an exceptionally kind and thoughtful person, and he was always healthy and never did anything to harm himself (or others…).
I first met Mark in seventh grade. I had just been moved up a grade and was in all the smart kid classes. David Wright and I were planning on building an atomic bomb (just for shits and giggles) and David had some plans (real ones, I don’t know where he got them). Mark used to roll his eyes at us and say, “why on earth would you even want to do that.” Mark had a mix of inquisitive condescension mixed with a cup of sympathy and maybe two tablespoons of empathy that was undeniable.
Mark and I played on the same soccer team for several years. The first year we sucked. I was an asshole. We actually had some good players and we just weren’t working right. Mark called me out, in his typical way. It was my fault. I was supposed to be the team leader, and instead I was the team asshole. Nobody else could have done it. We started to click and for the next three years we vied for the league championship.
I became a neer-do well while Mark continued on his path to success in life. I woke up sometime before senior year and realized I wasn’t going to graduate from high school. By some fluke I wound up in a few “honors” type courses with Mark and his good friend Kelly Dancer (who is also gone...). Mark immediately welcomed me back into the fold of the geeky smart kids who were going somewhere–but always in his way. His look. That picture above captures it. “Are you really back?” “I know you can do it, but will you?”
After graduating from Dartmouth Mark became a minister in the Unity Church. He helped kids, mostly. A good liberal Protestant, who just wanted to make the world a better place and help people. He helped me a lot. I wish I could have seen him again.