Mark Manasco was an old friend of mine. We went to high school together, were both in band, and even had a strictly-platonic "date" or two. We were part of a close circle of friends that hung out together, had classes together, dreamed together. What would we be when we grew up?
I lost track of Mark not long after high school. The last time I saw him was at my friend, Missy's wedding over 25 years ago. He didn't come to any of the reunions, and for years, there was a rumor circulating that he was dead. Finally, a couple of years ago, I found him on Facebook and we were able to reconnect again. Our 30th class reunion is coming up this year and several of us have been emailing back and forth, trying to pull together a reprisal of our senior championship band performance, Mark included.
I was shocked on January 13 to get an email from a mutual friend informing me that Mark had died the day before. Shocked is probably too mild to describe the sick, kicked-in-the-gut feeling that overwhelmed me for several days. He'd been in the hospital since before Christmas and not one of my friends knew. His last post on Facebook was around Thanksgiving.
I'm still having a hard time dealing with the fact that he's gone. I went to the funeral, met up with some old friends, had the whole "Big Chill" experience with them afterward, but the whole experience was very surreal. There were things I'd never said to him, but hoped to at the reunion. Things that will never be said now.
Why do we let people who were at one time, very important to us, just drift out of our lives? I don't have the answer.