Eulogy from the funeral of Mark McAllister, 11th November 2014
Mark’s Uncle Richard introduced us less than a year ago. Richard had a feeling we’d get on, and he wasn’t wrong. Although Mark and I didn’t get to spend as much time together as we planned (and we were often planning!), we became close very quickly. I know he’s smiling now at having an Englishman talking about him here in the Creggan Chapel.
I learnt a great deal from young Mark in the short time I knew him and somewhere along the way I acquired a new name “Sound Mike” – I love hearing that name, it will always make me smile and think of him.
When I visited Mark in hospital a couple of weeks ago I didn’t want to leave, but when I eventually did, I felt in a way as if I had stayed in the room.
Richard updated me on his situation on a daily basis. When he called me last Saturday night he told me that although things weren’t looking good, he felt that Mark wasn’t ready to leave us, it was as if he was hanging on for something, but he also told me that a sense of peace was descending in his room.
The following morning I sent Richard a message which I hoped he would share with Mark, with Tracy and JP and with Conor, Shauna and Kate. I wanted to let them all know the impact Mark had had on me, as I know he had on many of you here today. Tracy and JP have asked me to share that message with you today, so here it is: –
“I know that Mark’s still teaching us – he’s already taught us about facing death, and he’s taught us about living – he redefined my understanding of ‘just’ doing something when he called me a while ago and asked me what I was doing. I told him I was ‘just’ sitting up in Richard’s house and we were ‘just’ talking. He told me there’s no ‘just’ about any of that, he said ‘what you’re doing is everything…!’
Now he’s teaching us about love – it’s the love all around him that’s keeping him going and creating that sense of peace in his room that you described to me last night – Mark’s created that sense of peace for and with you all, so that the room ceases to be a terrible or sad place but rather has become a place of love.
Mark’s changed me, as have his and your families. I’m in awe of you all and it’s one of the greatest privileges of my life that you have all made me feel part of this…”
I want to finish by sharing with you a few lines from the poet Rumi – I know Mark would have liked them, in fact when I was thinking about him last night I realised that he could even have written them himself specially for today:
Goodbyes are only for those who love with their eyes, Because for those who love with heart and soul, There is no such thing as separation.
Mark loved with his heart and soul, he was and is loved with many hearts and souls, and because of that love he is and always will be with us…