Mark's hair was greying, but the bright sparkle in his eyes and the smoothness of his skin spoke of youth, so his age was near impossible to place. Perhaps we should compromise, and place him in his mid-thirties*. If he was much older, the smile-lines would have dominated his face as his cheerful friendliness and curiosity dominated his personality.

We bonded over being almost the only people in all of Fire to be taking part in Beltane for the first time - the excitement of the performance, and the joy of meeting so many lovely new people. We were both slightly scared still, that first evening at the pub, but optimistic, too - looking forward to seeing how everything would turn out.

Later we would share one of those magical times that are so rare in adult life: Camping in the woods, late at night, a group of us went exploring. We found ourselves emerging into a glade of young trees, the snow inches deep all around, the full moon in the clear sky lighting everything silver.

We lay down there, piled for warmth, while Mark in his soft voice full of wonder told us a story about ourselves, the fire-dancers in the enchanted wood.

He worked at the Camera Obscura and World of Illusions, imparting that same wonder for a living. It must have been a great job for him.

That is almost all knew about Mark. I was looking forward to getting to know him better.


I wrote that last week, a couple of days after I heard that Mark had died. On Friday I went to his wake, where I did get to know him a bit better, after all. It turns out that twinkle in his eye was more deceptive than the grey in his hair - he was forty-seven years old! I left in the bit about his age regardless though, when I stood up and read it.

Mark was a keen photographer, much more than I'd realised, organised ceilidhs, was a part of Edinburgh's co-counselling community for years, where he'd obviously been much valued. He'd worked as a nurse at one point, spent time in Bhutan, found tremendous, transformative, creative release through Five Rhythms dance. He obviously lived a full life, however abruptly it was cut off. It's good to know that, and as shocked as I still am, I feel blessed to have known him.


Gods rest you, Mark. You'll be missed.

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