Rain was coming down like crazy. I was brushing a dog and adding the finishing touches, thinking Mark was tending the kenneled dogs. The evidence of no barking silently told me that he was still there beside me. I was just too busy to keep track of where he was, I guess. “Take the dogs out!” I said in his direction, “It’s raining!” And there Mark stood, blank faced and oblivious. He moved to my home town to be near me and he worked with me at our family business, the dog kennel.Was he tired or just being stubborn? I could not tell. It was not like him. I grabbed his shirt and tugged him toward the door that led to the kennel. We walked half hunched over into the rain as we guarded our faces. One by one we let the dogs out. Each one to its own outdoor cage. As Mark stood in the kennel he stared across the room at nothing. It was very strange but I needed him to help. These dogs needed to go to the bathroom and get back inside out of the rain. We needed to clean the cages, fill the water bowls, and feed those that needed their dinner.
“Feed the dogs, Mark!!!” I yelled, “They are soaking out there!” So he went for the food. He grabbed the scoop and he loaded the dish up and everything seemed normal until he started over filling. The food was pouring out the sides of the dish and I was getting frustrated at this point with his odd behavior.
He still did not move around much. I just decided I needed to work around him. Why was I so clueless? I think back to this and I am bothered by my lack of sense. I think it was because the dogs were getting wet and you know what a wet dog smells like, right?! Well, try about 20 dogs! The smell is thick in the nostrils. I rushed around feeding and watering when I saw Mark leave the kennel. Where was he going?
He came in with two dogs. A big one and a little one. The big one was a wet, hairy Airedale and the other was a itty, bitty Yorky. That little darling must have been about three or four pounds. It just quivered under his arm. He corralled the big dog into a cage and then tossed the little one in there with it. WHAT?! You don't just throw the dogs around like that! Then, here is the strange thing, he reached over and grabbed this big dehumidifier and proceeded to add that to the dog pile up in the cage! I grabbed a water dish filled with water and I threw that water right in his face! To wake him up. What was his deal?! He did not get mad at me. He just stood there and took the water in his face without any agrivation.
I had to shove him aside, "Are you out of your mind?!?" I took the dehumidifier out of the cage and gently scooped the frightened little dog out of the cage and put it into its own pen. After every last dog was properly put away, I led my big, odd acting fellow up to the back door of the house. He stood there like a robot. I went in and he was still outside the back door just standing there until I opened the door for him. After he was all the way in, he lifted his foot and kept it there hanging above the floor. He said, "Hello!" in a very sarcastic, rude manner, “Aren’t you going to help me?” I looked at him, thinking, what in the world is going on. I walked over to humor him and I pulled his shoe off, “There, are you happy?” What was his deal. Then he did the same for the other foot. I started to laugh and think, this guy is such a goof ball. How fun! Why I did not suspect this as something that was ailing his mind, I do not know to this day. I am ashamed of how I just made fun of him and let this behavior keep going as it was entertaining me. I know. I was a fool.
After I was able to lead him over to the table, I sat him down and my dad by this time was a bit concerned that he was on drugs. I guess we did not know him that long to judge. So we looked over at the table where my mother had brought home some hospital food for us to eat. Yummy hospital food, right? Not. My mother normally made the most nutritious and delicious meals. She had to be somewhere so she brought us hospital take out. Mark just sat there poking a fork into the Styrofoam container. I started to laugh because it looked so funny to me. I opened the container so he would be able to get to his food and he just kept motioning the fork over the food but never could actually touch the food and bring it to his mouth. I grabbed the fork and put a jiggling piece of fat on the end of it just to see if he would eat it. He hated the fat and everytime I ate with him, I noticed that he would precisely cut the fat from the meat. So this was a true test. He gobbled it up and that is when I knew something was wrong with him for sure!
Soon he acted more normal and finished eating by himself. What was that? I had not seen him ever act like that. It was strange but I never thought much of it after that day until it happened again...
When we had many relatives over for a family reunion in our back yard, we tried to get Mark to play basketball and he just sat there saying, “What’s it to you!” It was really rude and I think my family thought he was a jerk. He sat on the edge of the chair with his legs straight out. People had to walk around his legs and his toes pointed straight up as he slouched in that chair. It was very odd, yet I still did not put two and two together. Finally, I was able to pull him out to the court. He did not participate. He just stood there looking blankly ahead. This was very strange because Mark was an excellent basketball player and he loved the sport. He never missed an opportunity to play. I wanted to show him off to my family. I wanted them to see how amazing he was. Instead, he repeated the same rude phrase, “What’s it to you!” The ball was thrown right at him and then he fell back into the fence. It was a very tall wooden fence and the way it shook with the weight of his body got everyone’s attention.
He fell to the ground and started to flop around violently. People were huddled around the scene. My mother called 911 and the ambulance came rushing into the driveway. I was so scared for his life. I wondered if he would make it. Most of all, I wondered what caused this. Just an hour before he was acting completely normal. The paramedics asked for his family and there were none to be found. I piped up, “I am his fiancé!” They loaded my love onto a stretcher and stuffed him into the back of the ambulance. They invited me to ride along with him. As we raced down the freeway, I could see IV bags dangling and hitting the long pole that stretched high above Mark’s head.
I could see them reaching for testing supplies and trying to help him. Finally, they discovered that he had such a low blood sugar level that it caused him to go into a seizure. They had to give him some glucose to bring him back. The doctors never seen a person have a seizure like that without being a diabetic. It was questioned whether or not he took a dose of insulin from a diabetic. It took over a week for them to diagnose him after they sent lab work to a much larger hospital.
It was a very rare tumor in his pancreas. If he did not have it removed, he would die. The tumor was called an Insulinoma, because it produces insulin. One in 10 million have this around the world. The specialists came into the hospital room where he had been sitting for a week, and explained all about his condition and how they planned to cure it. The only cure is to remove the portion of the pancreas that contained the 2 millimeter sized tumor. We were in July and the surgery was scheduled for that September when I would be in Peru studying abroad for my Junior year at the university.
After the doctors left us, he looked at me with helpless eyes. I knew what he was thinking. “I wont go!” I proclaimed. How could I leave him now? I would be half way across the world and he would remain here, in need. He quickly grabbed my hand and said, “I will wait to have my surgery until you return.” Was that even possible? “Your trip is planned and even though I wish you would not go, I know it means a lot to you. I do not want to hold you back!”
His life was more valuable to me than anything. “No I won’t leave you!” I did not want to go at that point but Mark always had this unselfish heart that begged me to follow my dreams wherever they led me. He looked into my eyes, “You NEED to go!” To this day I find it hard to share certain things with him because he will lay down his own will to prosper mine. All the pain of our broken way flooded into my mind and the more he loved me, the more I responded to that love. The more he proved his devotion to me by his endless acts of selflessness, the more I wanted to return that devotion. I have never been loved so deeply.
He would put his life on the line just so I could go far from his side. It did not make sense, and I hated the thought of it, but the part of my heart that wanted to please was willing to honor his request. Mark actually begged the surgeons to reschedule this very important surgery until December when I would be back home from Peru. They agreed but had to put him on medication to keep him alive until surgery. You will never know how much I hated to go. I had to put my trust in God who would be in both places at the same time, watching over my love. Anyway, God does a better job at caring for the sick.
“Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the Lord thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.” Deuteronomy 31:6 KJV
ALSO...I received letters from people that missed out on my once a year sale. I felt compelled to offer it until the end of this week, if you are still reading and you missed the sale, I just extended it until Sunday Dec 11th. Still 50% off of everything!