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  • Writer's pictureAustin Birks

Celebrating A wonderful Friend And Man: My Dear Friend Mark Wilkie

Gosh, my dear friends, life is an utterly strange roller coaster sometimes, is it not? Now, in truth as part of my Bag For Life blog, I have always taken the view that positivity in life with cancer, has been my only path. And 4 and and a half years later, I'm still here, and positive as ever. But today, if you don't mind, I am going to talk about love, and death, and they are so connected.


Today I was so fortunate to be attending a celebration of a man who I loved very much, as a best friend in the chapter we shared, as young men.


His name was Mark Wilkie, and he was one of those people who just exuded joy, energy, love, and positivity. It was just good and deep, and funny, and enriching.


When we met, we were teenagers. He was an open and interesting chap. We had all moved in to De La Salle College at Hopward Hall, in Middleton, Manchester.


As young freshers you know no one, but you just jump in, and for me as an 18-year-old, I felt, lonely but excited but decided to just jump in, and was OK with it.


Long story short, in truth, you just found yourself drawn to those like you. Now some were drawn to the sports Jocks, guys, as they say in the USA. But, oh no, were never drawn to that sports malarkey, nay nay nay, and thrice, nay, we were the non-aligned sports chaps, we simply liked, girls, and beer, and of yes, most importantly, mischief.


And Mark was always at the centre of all we did. As a complete group of misfits, although we were not. We were the ninjas, and if honest, an amazing group of people, part of us were part of the Karate club, and ironically myself, Sensei Paul Howarth, and Sensei Mike Woods, and Mark was part of our club.


And today as we walked past Mark’s coffin at the end the most amazing celebration of his life, Mike, bowed his head, in front of Mark, and I tried to to do the same. A small but powerful gesture after 51 years of training. It meant a lot, to show Mark, that in this world, which he left, we loved him and respected him.


And guess what, wholly appropriate I feel, the energy, the love, the amazing, and utterly different group of people, both old, and young, was amazing all showed the same sense of love to this man.


Mark died in a very short window, of being ill to death, in a few weeks, he died in hospital with his whole family with him, loved right to the end, as he was loved after his death.


Love, my dear friends is so tangible, and almost so cherished that actually, you truly need to just simply embrace it, and share the key thing, which is quite simply, nothing more, and nothing less than time. And that amazing love, and emotion, simply called love, I loved Mark Wilkie, and so did so many people, and at the end of the day, my friends, what really matter is just that, nothing more, nothing less, love is the best, a song by Madness.


And Mark, my dear friend, thank you for giving me your friendship, your enormous love and kindness with my journey with cancer, I will miss you but also not be sad, because you gave me, and, so many people so much. It just stands out that so many people from all walks of life were there for you, because they loved you.


But, after all it was also because of you, joyous of who you were, and what you meant, to every soul who was was present, and so many who were not, but who would have shared the essence of your spirit.


Rest in peace, my dear friend, and I will see you on the other side, with Spook, and all those who go before us, and we will talk, laugh, drink, and love yet again.


Love you my friend.


Austin

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