But I do remember you spanking me—not as cruel torture by a decade older brother—but as a kind sibling helping his frequently-disciplined younger brother no longer feel pain when he got spanked by his parents.
Mark, I do not remember why mom and dad kicked you out of the house when you were fifteen…
But I do remember you coming to visit, sick as a dog, and me selfishly pushing you (successfully) to give me your coin collection (which you kept in one of mom’s thread and needle containers).
Mark, I do not remember the next time I saw you…
But I do remember excitedly visiting a Mark Jensen mom found listed at a nearby hospital, only to walk in and see it wasn’t you.
Mark, I do not remember the exact year I got to visit you in Seattle during one of my business trips…
But I do remember taking your picture at the top of the Space Needle. We were brothers again.
Mark, I do not remember what I did to have you insist I be out of your life again…
But I do remember during the Seattle visit how you told me that when you were kicked out of house none of your friend’s parents would allow you to stay. You didn’t say it, but you were so alone. My heart broke. So, if me being out of your life meant less pain for you, I cared enough to accept it. You had more sorrow before becoming an adult than anyone should have their whole life.
Mark, I do not remember our last interaction…
But, it doesn’t matter. You are gone. You were alone. Nobody even knows exactly when you died.
Well, Somebody remembers how we spent our first five years together, why you were kicked out of the house, when I next got to see you, the year we were atop the Space Needle together, why you last insisted we lead separate lives, our last interaction, and the exact moment you entered eternity.
Surely a God who knows whenever a sparrow falls to the ground (Matthew 10:29), knows all of that and more. All your pain and all your smiles. All your sorrows and all your joys. All your demons and all your angels. “Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.”1 You may have never realized it, but you always have been of more value.
Mark, God will show you the love you refused to receive from your family and me. Will you be in heaven? I do not know. However, I do know the God who cares for sparrows cares for you and that your demons will torture you no more.
Mark, I do not remember the last time I told you, “I love you.”
But I do.
1 Matthew 10:31, English Standard Version.
UPDATE: With info from a sibling, corrected a couple of ages in the post.