It seems that early January is again a time of sorrow. Almost a year after losing my good friend Robert Garigue, I am saddened to report on the passing of my friend Mark Fleshner.

Mark was a brilliant lawyer and scientist holding both a Ph.D and J.D. as well as several other degrees. He is the author of patents I can’t claim to understand and co-founded two very successful intellectual law practices in the Northern Virginia area.

Mark was a good friend and neighbor and I enjoyed my time with him as we developed a special kinship based on our shared eccentricity, insomnia, and love of music. While one might find me DJing in my basement on a given weekend night, Mark would set up a full fledged band or just jam on the guitar in his basement. Mark and Kara’s home is a place of natural comfort based on their tremendous sense of hospitality and inherent social nature. Mark also introduced Joy and I to what would become our favorite chardonnay and the next bottle we crack open will be bittersweet.

He and his wife are beloved by my daughter Maddie and she expressed sadness this Christmas (due to their recent move 15 miles away) at not having been over to bake cookies (and eat ribbon candy) with them this year as it had been an annual tradition. Maddie always felt special when they would invite her over to their house without her little brother or parents to tag along.

Mark was nervous to become a father and it was an issue we talked about several times. Our conversations about fatherhood are some of the most memorable we had. It was the only thing I witnessed him approach in life without absolute confidence which is a feeling many of us can share. When his daughter was born he, as expected, was a natural and he found great joy in his daughter Gigi who turns one this month. It was quite sad to be with Gigi the day after Mark’s passing and as I carried her about the house looking at paintings, I watched her several times pick her head up and widen her eyes as we approached a crowd in a look that I know was longing for daddy. She will be surrounded by much love in her life and we can be thankful that the spirit of his memory will be present in those around her.

As for my own daughter, she announced that she saw a show on TV where a new puppy developed the same mannerisms and habits as a recently deceased grandmother, so she is hopeful that Mark might come back as a puppy. Such is the logic of a seven year old, but she was mostly sad for Gigi who won’t know her father. That meant extra love for her own father that day and extra tears when she got a timeout from me. On Monday Mark got a special entry in her school journal that described how she felt and ended with a simple truth – “He was a great man”.

When it was released on DVD Mark insisted I watch the movie Walk the Line about Johnny Cash and loaned me his recently purchased copy. In light of Maddie’s comments, I couldn’t help but hear these Highwaymen lyrics in my head for the rest of the day.

“I fly a starship across the Universe divide
And when I reach the other side
I’ll find a place to rest my spirit if I can
Perhaps I may become a highwayman again
Or I may simply be a single drop of rain

But I will remain
And I’ll be back again, and again and again and again and again..”

Rest in peace Mark. You were much loved and will be greatly missed.