Monika and Mark
So this is a book. This is a paperback book by Borges and it’s called The Book of Sand, and I inherited it from my late partner, who was called Mark. And I came to own the object, well, by inheriting it. I don’t really think of it . . . it’s, I don’t really think of it as an object that I’ve inherited; it’s just kind of part of everything that was left behind after he died. And as his partner who lived with him for 7 years, pretty much everything
that he owned just sort of became mine. Unless I chose to hand things out to other members of the family and friends. He hadn’t written a will so nothing was allocated to anybody. So I do own the book now . . . but only for the reason that it was just part of the household really.
I’ve chosen this particular book because it’s the last book that Mark was reading, and he had it in hospital with him. And I don’t know how much he’d read. He didn’t talk, he wasn’t, he didn’t mention about it, he didn’t talk to me about it. But it is the one book that he took into hospital with him along with a load of mini disks of his favourite music, so that he could listen to them. I wasn’t even actually aware that he’d taken, I
don’t even know how the book got to be in the hospital actually. But it was there and he was reading it. So he either asked me to take it in for him, or he might have asked his brother, or he might have asked our closest friend Dave, who were all involved with us moving house at the time when he went into hospital. So either one of us three could have come across it and fished it out, and somehow it ended up in the hospital. So it was the last book that he’d been reading before he died.
But I also particularly like it because it was kind of the first book that he read as well. So it obviously wasn’t really the first book that he read, but Mark had a near fatal car accident when he was about, oh I don’t know, early 20s or 19 or something, and he had to have his hip reconstructed. And he was in hospital then for months and months and months, and he was in traction for ages, and he got hold of this particular book, The Book of Sand. I don’t know if he got it from one of the nurses or a patient, but somebody else gave it to him and suggested that he read it. And he used to talk about it when we were together; that he read it and it really changed his perspective on things. And he started to read more after that cos he had so much time in hospital and it completely just, it really had a huge impact on his life and completely changed him. And he hadn’t been through any further education at that point, he was just working straight out of school, and he decided that he wanted to be a person who went to University and educated himself and travelled loads. And he just felt after reading this book, that there was so much more to the world and to life than what he had known about and thought about up until that point. So I’ve chosen this book because it was like his first book and his last book. And I think that’s important.
Because he was incredibly generous with himself, with people. And he would just talk to anybody and give anybody the time of day if they wanted it or needed it. He was just really, really friendly
He was definitely obsessive . . . about music and about making music. And it was a kind of an obsessive trait in him that drove him to make the stuff he made. So he would sit in front of the computer for hours on end just not leaving stuff alone, until it was made.
He liked fun. And he was quite good at fun. He didn’t take things too seriously, in a broad sense.
He was strong. He was quite a strong character . . . and he would probably laugh if he heard me saying that because he sometimes, in certain contexts, felt quite lacking in confidence. But actually I think he was. He could put himself out there perfectly happily.
A difficult memory that I have of Mark is right at the end. I don’t know if that’s common amongst people who’ve lost somebody. But right, right at the end when he was in the hospital, in fact I think it was even the morning of the day that he died. He’d lost a certain level of coherence, he hadn’t quite lost consciousness but he had lost his coherence and he was trying to communicate something to me and I couldn’t understand it, and I didn’t know what he was trying to say to me. He wanted me to do something and I didn’t know what it was that he wanted me to do. And I’ve thought about that a lot in the years since, and I guess just tried to think really, really hard and work out what it was. But I never have. And yeah, I guess I’d like to know.
The first thing I think of when I think of Mark is . . . I don’t know. Well I suppose the first thing I think of is . . . dancing. Silly dancing. And music. And generally messin’ about.
If I could say one more thing to Mark, it would be . . . well that depends, because if I could have said one more thing to him just before he died it probably would have just been something like, "I love you." If I could say one more thing to him now, after what, 8 years have gone by, it would probably be, "I understand a bit more, a bit better."
Something really clear, not exactly important, but something very definite happened to me when Mark died. Which is that in the context of faith perspective and any kind of religious belief and what you think about the universe and everything, my thoughts and ideas and beliefs were turned completely upside down, when Mark died. I don’t even know how you might classify it or term it but before Mark died I sort of had the idea, I mean I don’t have any particular religious belief, but I kind of had the idea that it’s all about energy; I didn’t believe in any kind of afterlife, spirit, sort of ghosty things or whatever . . . people staying around, or sort of being available in some form or other after death. I just believe that we’re all just matter. We’re all just material, so it’s energy and the matter and material that a body is made of, just goes back, decomposes, goes back into the energy cycle that goes round and round as life. And I certainly didn’t believe in anything like persistence of personality. But then after Mark died, I had to completely re-arrange what I thought about that, because he was still here. I thought he was still gonna be here forever at that time, but like I’ve said 8 years have gone by and it has changed in that time and he isn’t. He isn’t around anymore. But after dying, for quite a considerable length of time he definitely, something was still here with us, among the people who knew him and loved him. And it was a kind of essence of, it was personality; it was him definitely. It wasn’t kind of just this energy that could be universal and changed into something else. It was definitely his personality and it was still Mark. Sometimes immediately afterwards he would still be in the room, I would be absolutely aware of him being in the room. Mina also had the experiences of being aware of him. I think you even saw him one or twice didn’t you? I never saw him but I do remember one very particular occasion when I was absolutely convinced that I was going to see him. Like he was so there that he was almost going to appear and I was actually quite scared because I didn’t like the idea of it. It was this area actually, it was the sofa area and the door coming into the room. There was a kind of feeling that I was just on the verge of seeing him and I didn’t like it so I actually went and hid round behind the Rayburn, so that if he did decide to manifest I would not see him, cos I didn’t like the idea of it. So I never saw him. I know I did a bit of research into this because it interested me. One particular thing that happened as well was that Mark was an enormous habitual smoker and I used to smell cigarette smoke just randomly around the house and he’d never been in here. And it wasn’t a kind of lingering old cigarette smoke smell that might have been left behind in the house, it was actually just completely like somebody was there smoking, and then it was gone. And that was a bit odd as well so I sort of did a bit of research to find out if other people has ever talked about that, and it was something that people have mentioned. But yes, with regards to any kind of faith and beliefs about how the world works, I certainly had a huge change in my thinking and in what I believed. I’d kind of thought when I’d heard stories of people, you know talking about people who have died in this way and talking about them still being around and talking to them and all this kind of thing, I just thought that it was something that unconsciously their psyche had developed to help them grieve, but while it was happening I kind of knew that actually that wasn’t what was happening. So I had to change what I thought about all those people really.
And finally, a happy memory that I have is . . . it’s a mixture of loads of different things. It’s kind of a montage of different things that we’ve done, that we did over time but its always, basically . . . we used to go to quite a lot of festivals, music festivals. We used to travel quite a lot. We used to perform as well sometimes and the good memory that I have of Mark is just basically dancing and having a good time. At whatever festival it is, I don’t know, it would probably change from time to time with the memory. But it’s always hot and sunny, cos they tended to be in Spain. And yeah, so that’s it.
A lot of dancing.