Ride for Mark

I went looking for answers last Sunday morning.

I drove over to the home of Mark Loesch, the 41-year-old father of four who was killed earlier this month when he went for a bike ride. I never had the pleasure, but I felt like I knew him. Kid from the neighborhood, after all. Forty-first and Wentworth.

I knocked on the door and was greeted by a friend of the family. Tall guy by the name of Gene. Handshake like a Venus fly trap. Eyes the color of a tornado sky. "Ride For Mark" sign pinned to his chest.

He said that a bunch of them had just returned from riding the inaugural Minneapolis Bike Tour, and that his dead friend’s kids were inside playing "Guitar Hero" with their cousins.

I sat on the front steps. He lit a cigarette. We looked at some kids playing football across the street, and took in the glorious fall day. A cooler with "M. Loesch" scrawled on the side rested on the porch next to various tools and toys.

Gene said he couldn’t believe what had happened, that it was so senseless — "not to minimize" anyone else’s troubles or any other murders, but for Christ’s sake all his friend was doing was going for a bike ride after watching the 10 p.m. news with his wife.

I told him I didn’t want to intrude, but that I had felt a need to make contact. I asked him to give Mark’s family my best and let them know the whole city was hurting along with them.

"There’s this chasm there," said Gene, his hands spreading out in front of him, holding air. That’s when he started to cry.

I got in my car and drove the route Mark might have taken on his last ride. Past Curran’s, past Martin Luther King park, flying down the 42nd street hill, past the graveyard, past the old Regina High School, past 38th and Chicago, to the 3700 block of Elliot and the yard where his body was found and where a single tiny potted plant with rotting flowers sat in memoriam.

I knocked on doors. Two people hadn’t heard anything about Mark’s death. Another didn’t speak English, but needed help carrying a giant framed poster of Our Lady Of Guadalupe out to his car. One said she heard something about the murder on the news and that Minneapolis is getting worse and that she’s moving to the suburbs next month. Two more were extremely vocal in their praise of their neighborhood and the cops, and in their concerns about their neighborhood being depicted as a high-crime area.

They didn’t have any answers, either. Nobody did. The only one I kept coming back to was the following, which my mother read as part of her eulogy for her brother a few hours before Mark Loesch was killed. From "The Gospel According To Gabriel," by Edward M. Hays:

 

Never assume that tomorrow will follow today;

Constantly make delicious memories like bread,

To nourish you through life’s journey

With all its droughts and trials and crossroads.

Never leave home at sunrise without a good memory

On which to chew throughout the day.

Make good memories at night to keep as fine wine

To warm you in winter, to be sipped in dry hardship.

Never tire of making good memories to savor.

 

Never assume that tomorrow will follow today;

Make memories like you make babies, out of great love.

As we have throughout these past years of feasting together

On fish and bread and wine, on love and friendship,

Dancing when in danger, laughing when afraid,

Never tire of making good memories to savor.

Never assume that tomorrow will follow today;

Each day let us make a beautiful and great memory;

as if it were to be the last we’ll ever share,    

so full of life as to live on forever and ever.

Let us make a memory as full of divine love

As the figs grown on Eden’s ever-fertile trees.

Never tire of making good memories to savor,

And never assume tomorrow will follow today.