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X Marks the Spot

January 13, 2016

felice and markThe good part about having an organizer in your family is that you get free closet makeovers. The bad part is… if you’re the organizer. This does not mean I don’t enjoy organizing my mom’s closet every time I go home (or my sisters’, my dad’s, etc.). But there is one person whose closet I’ve organized dozens of times and assumed I would continue to do so for years to come: my Uncle Mark, who’s always been more like an older brother. The first time I redid his closet was when I moved in with him in 1996 and needed room for my things. Over the years, even after I moved out, it became a ritual and usually went like this:

Felice:             “Mark, this sweatshirt has a stain. Donate it.”

Mark:              “But it’s my favorite. The stain isn’t that bad.”

Last August my uncle called me in the middle of the day. “I need you to pick me up and take me to Sloan Kettering.” He’d had an issue with his blood for years, but he was treating it. By October it was confirmed: Leukemia. He got put on a trial. He started chemo. He was getting better. Soon we hoped he’d get a bone marrow transplant (my mom and another uncle were matches) and be okay. But Christmas Eve we got the call: Mark passed away. It was less than two weeks after Papa, a one-two punch.

Last week I found myself in a familiar spot: in front of Mark’s closet. This time, what had become a pastime, I would be doing for the very last time. I removed a sweatshirt. “Mark, this has a stain,” I said, making believe he was in the other rom. “Donate it.” I went to add it to the giveaway pile, but stopped. Instead I put it on. It was swimming on me (my uncle was over six feet). I wrapped my arms around myself, imagining it to be my uncle hugging me one last time and cried. Then I caught a glimpse of the stain. “You know what?” I said out loud. “The stain isn’t that bad.” And then I smiled because I had found my new favorite sweatshirt.

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29 Comments
  1. Madalyn Hillis-Dineen permalink

    Oh my gosh… it really is a one-two punch… I’m very sorry for your loss.

    Love, Madalyn

    Madalyn Hillis-Dineen

    Director of Marketing

    Astrolabe, Inc.

    1/800/843-6682

    Email: astrolabe@alabe.com

    Visit our website, http://www.alabe.com

    Since 200 A.D., astrologers have depended on the Astrolabe to map the stars. THEY STILL DO!

    Felice Cohen wrote: > WordPress.com > Felice Cohen posted: “The good part about having an organizer in your family is that you get free closet makeovers. The bad part is… if you’re the > organizer. This does not mean I don’t enjoy organizing my mom’s closet every time I go home (or my sisters’, my dad’s, etc.). Bu” >

  2. edesgilbert@gmail.com permalink

    Lovely image. Mark would be pleased.

    E

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

  3. Beautiful post.

  4. Great post Felice! I am so sorry about your uncle. And of course, your Papa. xoxo

  5. Tina permalink

    Felice, I’m so sorry for the loss of Mark. I apologize for being as informal as sending an email, but I just read your blog and wanted to respond immediately. I’ve been thinking of all of you for this past month and know that my heart is with you all. He was such a wonderful man.

    Xoxo Tina

    >

  6. Joe F permalink

    Boy, do you have a way of hitting home on certain subjects. When I had a loss in my family, I could still smell my son’s presence when I walked into his bedroom. I wouldn’t air out that bedroom for over a year. It stayed with me like your uncle’s sweatshirt. As I said before, you hit home. Thank you for sharing.

  7. Michael Gnat permalink

    Lovely, Felice. Sorry about the one-two. xo mg

  8. dschwartz14 permalink

    Beautiful tribute to your uncle and his place in your life.

  9. Alexis Fishman permalink

    Beautiful felice. That’s why he never let you throw it out!

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

  10. Theresa permalink

    Hi Chief! I am so sorry to hear about the passing of your big brother (uncle) Mike! He seemed like a great guy and you two had an amazing bond. My sincere condolences. what a great tribute to him. Muah! xox T

  11. Sue Eleftherakis permalink

    This is so beautiful Felice.
    Recently after spending the day with my dying mother I drove home and realized that I carried her smell on me.
    I loved it.

    My heartfelt condolences on your tragic losses.

  12. Judy Rachelle permalink

    I’m so sorry for your new loss. May you be comforted . Love, Judy

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

  13. Roger J Bass permalink

    Love it ! Roger

    Roger J. Bass

    Continental Place, Suite # 2402

    2125 First Avenue

    Seattle, WA 98121-2120

    Telephone 206.441.4112

    Mobile 206.650.4424

    rbass@qwestoffice.net

    Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the number of moments that take our breath away.

  14. Tom Olverson permalink

    Great story as always, Felice. You have been through a lot lately. Nice that you can see your way through it. I guess we have no choice.

  15. Lauri C. permalink

    Lovely sentiment.

  16. Felice your are amazing!… how you can use words to heal. I am so sorry for the loss of your Uncle Mark. It is so nice that you had a chance to be share so much.

  17. Jackie permalink

    Beautiful story!

  18. electchester permalink

    That was beautiful.  My heart breaks for you and your family.  Mark was a great guy and we are glad we got to know him. I still can’t believe it. Sharon

  19. james nomikos permalink

    Felice, so sorry to hear about your loss of your uncle. also I guess I missed the post about”Papa”. just read your post and also the obit in the times. when I saw the photo I couldn’t make out what he was doing but after reading your wonderful tribute I knew he was slicing ,probably salami, with his glasses on his head. I also loved the coloring that you and your sister did. my deepest condolences to you . they are with you always,Naomi

  20. Dana Arschin permalink

    Beautiful. So sorry again for your loss. Hope to see you soon. xoxo

  21. Felice, your ability to say the deepest thoughts and feelings simply is amazing. Carole and Bobby in Century village. Thank you.

  22. Marilyn Solomon permalink

    Beautifully written as usual! We miss all of you terribly! 👍💞

  23. Peter & Susan permalink

    This just about broke my heart – can’t imagine how you’re keeping it together! Just wanted to let you know I was thinking about you.

    xoxo s.

    >

  24. Funda permalink

    I have been reading your blog for some time, after every post I wanted to write to you and say: “although I found your blog via that YouTube video about your tiny adobe, I think you are more of a writer, a natural with words and story telling”. This time I am not postponing since I know life is so fragile.
    I am so sorry for your losses, I know from first hand experience that no word can ease the grief but sometimes they help. Lots of healing love and comfort to you and your family.

  25. Phyllis Weiss Kinsler permalink

    Felice, this edition of your blog was forwarded to me by my Rabbi, Henry Balser of Temple Beth Shalom in Boca Raton, FL. When I first read it, it didn’t “hit me” that I knew who I was reading about . . . I recently lost my husband and the message of your loss was what “got me”. I sent Rabbi Balser a “thank you” for thinking of me. On speaking with him today in person, I realized who you are and who Mark is. I knew Mark from when he would come to visit Murray and of course I knew Murray and Toby as well. I have now re-read “X marks the spot” several times and each of those times, I find new meaning and some comfort as well. Thank you for sharing this message . . . I wish you well and have subscribed to your blog. Perhaps we can meet when next I am in New York. Thank you.

  26. Ali permalink

    Wow…. thats a tough one-two punch… So very sorry for your losses…. glad you kept the sweatshirt. Some things you just have to hang on to. Sending loving heart healing vibes your way.
    oxox
    Ali

  27. Deanna Rutherford-Blowes permalink

    My heart, prayers and love goes out to you and your family.

  28. Richard Aberson permalink

    Shirt or no shirt,Mark will always be with us.

  29. Debra permalink

    First time to read your blog. My friend posted your apartment video from 2010 and I clicked over to your blog. My heart was filled with love and peace, and my eyes with tears as I read. Thank you for sharing. I will continue to read more and follow. Praying you find peace in the pain!

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