37: Mark of Friendship

37: Mark of Friendship

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Messages from Heaven

Mark of Friendship

Friendship isn’t a big thing — it’s a million little things.

~Author Unknown

My mother moved us to Vero Beach in the early 1970s. My grandparents were already living there and she wanted to move her three children out of New York City. We lived in an apartment, so moving into a house with a yard was an exciting experience for us. We learned quickly that to make friends all we had to do was get on our bikes. On the next street over, my younger brother John found his best friend, Mark.

I moved away from home when I was eighteen. I can’t remember the last time I saw Mark. I’m quite sure in the ensuing thirty years I didn’t give Mark a moment’s thought. Then I had a dream.

I was driving into my mother’s driveway on a visit home from Atlanta and Mark was standing in the front yard. I got out of my car and said, “Hello, stranger, I haven’t seen you in a while.” Mark asked if it was okay to give me a hug. “Of course,” I replied, feeling his breastbone and the softness of his shirt as I hugged him. He had a big smile. When I asked him how he was doing, he said, “I’m doing just fine. Everything is just fine now.” I asked about his daughter. “She’s going to be fine,” he replied. “She’s going to be just fine.” I told him John would be home shortly and he’d be glad to see Mark.

During this exchange I felt that he was holding back on some information. I also sensed that my brother needed to hurry or he wouldn’t get to see Mark. My mother also had come out the front door as I emerged from the car, but there was no greeting or exchange.

I had the dream three times that night. Each time I would ask Mark how he was doing, because I was never satisfied with his answer. He kept saying, with a big smile on his face, “I’m doing fine now, just fine. Everything’s going to be fine.” I had the sense that he’d just come through some tough times, but I didn’t know what those tough times were.

The dream was so real that when I woke up I wasn’t even sure where I was. But I woke up with a smile on my face. I wanted to call my brother right away and tell him that I felt the dream was a sign that whatever Mark had been through recently had finally passed and everything was going to be okay. I felt such a sense of peace that it lit up my morning. On the way to work I abruptly came out of my rose-colored fog.

Something was wrong with this picture. I dreamt about a man whom I had not seen since he was a teenager, and I had no idea if he was married or had kids or where he lived. I didn’t even know if John had stayed in contact with Mark over the years. I started to get this nagging feeling that I needed to tell John to call Mark and check on him. But that put me in a quandary. My brother was not going to take me seriously if I told him that because I’d had a dream about Mark, he should call him and make sure he was okay. And, if John didn’t take my premonition seriously and something happened to Mark where would that leave John?

There was one thing I knew for sure. Mark had been John’s best friend and John loved him like a brother. Regardless of whether they’d kept in touch over the years, I knew if anything happened to Mark it would devastate John. It would especially devastate John if he knew that he could have stopped something bad but didn’t. The entire drive to work I fretted whether to tell John about the dream. Would he take me seriously? The longer I contemplated the dream the more sure I felt this was an ominous message.

When I got to work the stress and struggles of the day took over. Then I forgot all about it.

Two days later I ran into the house after work, rushing to catch the ringing phone. It was my mother. “Bonnie, I have some bad news. Do you remember John’s friend, Mark? He committed suicide.”

I flopped down on the couch as she started to relate the details.

“Wait, wait. . . what?”

“Mark committed suicide the other night. John called a few minutes ago and he’s on his way up here for the funeral.”

Oh my God. That’s when I remembered the dream. “Mom, what night? Do you remember specifically what night he did that?”

“He did it the night before last. John is really upset.”

That was the same night I had the dream. I asked my mom if John had kept in touch with Mark over the years, and she said they had and they occasionally got together. She didn’t know when John last saw or spoke to Mark, but she did know that Mark had gotten married and had a daughter. I told her about the dream. We talked about whether I should have told John. But even if John had contacted Mark, there was no way to know that he could have stopped what happened. The grief John felt was bad enough without added guilt. I will eventually tell John about the dream, because I believe Mark wanted John to know he’s okay.

~Bonnie L. Beuth

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