Mark and Brooke were married when I was 11 years old. He has been in our family for more than half of my life and is considered a brother to me. When Mark was on his mission, I remember Brooke getting kind of serious with another guy. One night I started crying and told her that I didn't want her to marry him. When she asked why all I could say was, "because he's not Mark." Some of my fondest memories come from when Brooke and Mark would invite me to come stay at their house for a weekend. Mark would always go above and beyond to make it special. I grew up wanting to marry someone like him. I loved how he was so passionate about life and about my sister. They were always so fun to be around because they were best friends and being around them made you want to have what they had. They were always laughing and joking and singing and being silly and wrestling and tickling and talking. Their friendship was contagious. I LOVED how he treated my sister! I don't know if he was pretending or not but he was good at making me feel like he was genuinely interested in my life. He would always ask me about boys or my harp or the sports I was involved in. In fact, well before I was of legal age, he let me drive his car around as he taught me how to drive. I remember one time crying on the couch because my braces on my teeth were hurting so bad, he picked me up and shoved me in his car and we went and got shaved ice to try to help. There were many jamming sessions in the car, mainly to guns n roses but I do remember at times we would belt out to country songs, Les Mis, Wicked, and John Denver. I never dated a boy that Mark didn't approve of. One time I was in a relationship that I was really excited about. When Mark met him he instantly told me he didn't like him, not for any particular reason but just because he didn't give off a good vibe. Not 5 minutes later the relationship was over. When I got to college Mark was always setting me up on dates with guys he though I would like. When my high school boyfriend returned from his mission Mark paid for Brooke and I to stay in Seattle to see if it would work out, against my will. When I left boyfriend-less Mark, Brooke and I had a good time venting that night about how stupid boys are and weren't worth my time. Luckily, Mark approved of and loved Miles. Mark is a man of integrity and depth. I've had sooo many deep conversations with Mark that still impact my everyday decisions. One time I asked him if he ever felt like lying would be the right thing to do. He quickly and bluntly responded with a "no." I made up a couple of different scenarios like, "but what if, by you lying, you would save another persons life?" He continued to say that because of his profession (an attorney) he has prayed about this question a lot. He has come to conclusion that he would never give up his integrity to lie, and that somehow he would always find another way. That conversation meant a lot to me and he is the only one to have given me such a powerful answer. One of my favorite quotes from Mark, says a lot about him. We were driving somewhere when someone cut him off and with complete frustration in his voice he said, "Ugh, the more I study about charity, the stupider people get!"
On June 30, 2011 Mark unexpectedly passed away in his sleep from a brain aneurysm. When I first heard the news my first thought was, "no, no, no, not Mark. Of anyone I know he is the most needed person." He was serving as 1 counselor in the Bishopric, and helping so many through his profession, and not to mention his wife and 5 young kids. The hardest part through all of this has been thinking of my sister Brooke. I can't even pretend I know what she is going through, but I do know that I have been in love and I have started a life with my sweetheart. Losing him would be paralyzing. She, however, has been absolutely incredible during this whole devastation. While there are still times that she wants to just sleep and cry and not be bothered she has remained strong and immovable for her kids and others around her. She continually talks about Mark and their treasurable memories. Last night she even took over as the "family horse" so that all the kids could still have their horsey rides before bed. I know Mark is so proud of Brooke and her strength through all of this. My testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ is being strengthened everyday. I believe that families can be together forever, through His plan. I know Brooke and their kids will see him again. I know he is on the other side of the veil watching over each of us. I will personally do what it takes to live my life righteously and to the fullest so that I too can have the promises of the Gospel.
This picture was taken about 3 weeks ago when we went to Brooke and Mark's house for the weekend. These are the new babies with their daddies. Eli is definitely a daddy's boy! Their beautiful family (minus Eli) at my wedding This picture makes me look like a baby, but this is Mark helping out on a memorable hike my family took in Zions one year.