I lost another member of my extended family this weekend. It was a man who immediately became a mentor to me on my first day on the job. His name was Mark Beardsley. He was by far the nicest man I had met in a very long time.
I became close to Mark outside of work when he invited me to a holiday meal at his church. I have since joined him on a number of occasions exploring his interests outside of work. He even inspired me to get more involved in my own church. We used to have conversations in the break room about life, work and even dating. He gave me advice on every topic I came to him with. He never turned me away, not even when he was lying in the hospital bed his last weeks.
The last message I received from him was a text telling me he was happy for me for participating in the office Halloween costume party.
I called him later in the week and he politely told me how he was doing and he was glad I was thinking of him. I missed my opportunity to go visit him. He moved from one facility to the next before going back to the hospital for his final days.
I remember the time he sat and watched me and a group of friends play a game of Dungeons and Dragons at game night. He was fascinated by the game and sat by watching us, absorbing it all while we rolled our dice and gamed away.
The biggest impact he had on my life was getting me to venture back into the world of socializing. I had withdrawn myself into my bubble of isolation for quite some time before meeting Mark. He inspired me to get out and make new friends, try new experiences. He even invited me to a play he was excited about and knew I would enjoy. While I will mourn the loss of a friend and those lost memories I cannot get back, I will forever cherish the time we did spend together and the memories he left me with.
The newsroom, and the world, will be a little quieter and a little sadder without Mark around to light up the room with his gentle smile and soft voice.