For weeks, around 10 p.m., my dad sent an update text about Mark, who was fighting in the intensive care unit to regain his former life after suffering complications from an operation. The heart draws air from the lungs in early October.
The surgery was intended to prolong his life. He had planned to dance at his grandchildren’s wedding. He wants to ski this season.
Hope covers every nightly report. Shocked and disbelieving too, but all bathed in hope.
Pneumonia finally wilts. Sepsis waved its white flag. Mark DeCaria can beat anything.
His life is proof of that.
“Oh, where have you been, my blue-eyed son?
And where have you been, my dear child? ”
Because Mark had to persevere during his stay on earth, but he was never tough.
He is a funny, caring, dedicated, loyal, and brilliant love interest. A hippie-turned-sharp mind. A strong community advocate. The thumbnail image of #girldad. Honorable judge.
Our family became especially close after his first wife, Tracy, died in the 1980s. His eldest daughter, Stefanie, is 4 years old. Baby Angie is only 9 months old.
He braids his hair well and has probably watched more episodes of “Full House” than he cares.
“Oh, what did you see, my blue-eyed boy?
And what did you see, my dear child? ”
As the weeks went by, and as more became known about Mark’s plight, the list of recipients of the daily updates grew into the hundreds.
The reciprocal care and love of a boomerang, because all that Mark had given seemed to be coming back to him now.
It was a reflection of his kindness.
Almost every free visiting hour, he has loved ones by his side. Every inch of the room without pipes or machines was filled with his love, his favorite music, and his dreams of recovery.
Progress has been slow but appreciated. His faint yet familiar smile would suspend gravity, making everything light for a split second. He winced at the jokes and jokes even more than that.
I think he liked it when I played Joni Mitchell for him at my wife’s request.
“And what did you hear, my blue-eyed son?
And what did you hear, my dear child? ”
On Thanksgiving Day, while at my parents’ house, Mark’s wife Meri, 20 years old, and the girls received word from the hospital that he had tested positive for COVID-19. No scale can measure the weight of this fear. Too heavy to list.
His growing independence from the ventilator won’t last. The two breathed again for hours each day.
His heart is tired.
“Oh, what have you met, my blue-eyed boy?
And who have you met, my dear child? ”
The shoulders of those who loved him the most had to widen last week. Their burden increased to exactly the weight of this giant.
They must allow him to rest.
They are the custodians of his stories. Now they will be the ones who make his famous pasta sauce. They must continue in his absence.
“Oh, what will you do now, my blue-eyed son?
Oh, what will you do now, my dear child? ”
The second to last text update my dad wrote was called “BACK TO NATURE.” It broke the dam of group text etiquette. Even the strongest among us have limits. This pressure is too great.
Immersed in love, resting comfortably in meals of loved ones and sharing memories, Mark has left us with the same kindness as he lived his life to the fullest.
He passed the torch.
And so now we must all rise, as the venerable Mark DeCaria exits for the last time.
“I’ll be back ‘before the rain starts to fall’
I will walk to the depths of the deepest black forest
Where there are many people but empty hands.
Where poison pellets filled their water
Where the house in the valley meets the filthy and damp prison
Where the executioner’s face is always hidden
Where hunger is ugly, where souls are forgotten
Where black is the color, where there are no numbers
And I will tell it and think it and say it and breathe it
And reflect it from the mountain so that all souls can see it
Then I’ll stand on the ocean until I start to sink
But I’ll know my song well before I start singing
And it’s hard, it’s hard, it’s hard, it’s hard
It was a heavy rain that was about to fall. ”
– Bob Dylan
Editor’s Note: Mark DeCaria, a former 2nd District Court judge and Weber County Attorney, died on Sunday, December 12, from complications (among them COVID-19) after surgical repair of an aneurysm motherboard. He was 70.
Marina Gomberg is a professional communicator, an optimist and a lover of life. She lives in Salt Lake City with his wife, Elenor Gomberg, and their son, Harvey. You can go to Marina at firstname.lastname@example.org.
https://www.sltrib.com/artsliving/2021/12/17/marina-gomberg-mark/ Mark DeCaria has left us, and a heavy rain will fall