Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Gel Strong

I spent the last five days down in Atlanta, saying goodbye and paying tribute to my dear friend Mark Gelinas. In some ways, Mark is a lucky man. He is constantly surrounded by friends and family who love him. And he was well enough this weekend to gather us all together to say thank you for all we had done for him.

A few weeks ago Mark decided to end all chemo and radiation treatment because it simply wasn't working anymore. The doctors have given him only a few months to live, at best. So Mark did what he has done his whole life. He threw a party.

We came in from all over the country. Friends that have known him since grade school or high school (like me) are scattered from sea to shining sea, but we all stopped whatever we were doing and came to Atlanta. Friends he got to know during his days in Indianapolis and Atlanta did the same, along with his family. His wife. His son. His parents. His siblings. His nieces and nephews. We were all there for him.

And he gave us the most incredible gift of all. He gave us the opportunity to say goodbye.

A few of us stayed an extra day or two to spend a little more time with him, to selfishly squeeze a few more moments out of our life-long friendships. His body was frail. His mind was not. And he told us each how he felt about us and how much we meant to him while he was on this earth.

And we cried. We cried a whole lot. We cried because we are going to miss this incredible man so much. We cried because there will be a big hole in our lives.

But there was one person who didn't cry. There was one person who was at ease with his fate. That guy is just about the bravest guy I've ever met. I am so proud to have published his book, which will live on to inspire others long after Mark leaves us. As long as I'm a publisher, it will never go out of print.

For us--he will forever be--Gel Strong!