I wanted to repost this from my old blog (it was originally posted on Friday, November 12, 2004) because I really liked it when it came up first when you Googled "Mark Tarsi" ...here it is in its entirety, including comments....
My former coworker at Daymon, Mark Tarsi, died this past Monday, November 8th, of a heart attack. He left behind a wife and four children, not to mention a massive extended family and many, many friends. I'm not one who is prone to pontification on life and death anymore. I used to be, but not anymore. However, Mark's death is really bothering me, so I'll attempt to use my little digital soap box here to express some random thoughts in no particular order or structure...at least I'll get them out.
I resigned from Daymon Worldwide in early October and my last day there was October 22nd. Mark was just approaching his one-year anniversary working at Daymon. He had come to our department after a long and successful run at Cadbury Schweppes. In the short time that he was in the Daymon Information Systems Department he made an incredible impact on how it operated. He changed how just about every process in the department worked for the better.
On the morning I resigned I walked into Mark's office to hand him something and whispered to him that I had resigned. He told me to close the door and wanted to know the story. I told him where I was going and why and that it would be a very different role than that which I was playing at Daymon. He congratulated me and said that he was sorry to see me go, but was happy that I was making a move that was good for my career.
He then gave me a piece of advice that I won't soon forget. He told me to be sure to "make an impact" at the new place early on. I smiled when he said that because he didn't have to explain what he meant much beyond that. He had already done exactly that at Daymon in the few short months he was there. I'm trying my damnedest to follow that example.
As I listened to priests and family members eulogize Mark at his funeral today I began to understand that this theme of leading by example was not just isolated to his work environment but also applied to the rest of his life. He lead by example, but never in a cruel, overbearing or demanding way. Mark was a senior member of the IS Department, but he made everyone on his team - from the bottom of the org chart up - feel like he was their friend as much as, if not more than their superior.
Judging by the turnout for his wake and funeral, Mark made a huge impact in everything he did.
I realized something interesting while standing in the massive line to get into the funeral home for Mark's wake. While Mark was no doubt an excellent provider for his family, he's also provided them with something that I'd never even considered before. His family now has a LEGION of people who would do ANYTHING for them. They don't even know a lot of us, but because Mark was able to touch so many lives and shared with all of us how much his family meant to him, they will never go wanting for anything so long as we are all around.
I'm a person who does not grieve for the dead, but for the living who are left behind. I don't subscribe to any formal religion, and I believe that when you are dead, you are dead. Perhaps your "soul" goes back to being part of the greater universe and is no longer concentrated as "a person," but the point is when you're gone, you're gone. It's the people who will miss the deceased that I feel truly bad for. I'm truly sad that I'll never again get to hang out with Mark. He was not only a good mentor, but a lot of fun...and very easy to make laugh. When you are a clown like me, it's these easy targets that make even bad days fun. If I feel this way about a guy that I worked with, I can't begin to fathom what his family is going through.
I've often heard the term "closure" used in reference to families whose loved ones have died in a plane crash or something. They always want to recover the bodies so the families can have "closure." I never understood this at all. If you know your family member is dead, move on. Why do you need a body? However, Mark is teaching me that it's not that simple.
Maybe it's because I left Daymon a week or so before Mark died and I just have it in my head that I haven't seen him because I don't work there anymore, not because he's dead. Whatever my problem is; I JUST CAN'T FUCKING BELIEVE HE'S GONE.
I had really hoped that the wake would give me some feeling of closure - seeing him in the casket, and meeting his family - but I guess it didn't. All the other funerals I've been to of late have been for very old people whose time was up. It's sick to say this, but they looked appropriate in their caskets. Mark was only 47 years old. I really expected him to pop up in the casket and say "JUST KIDDING!" It was all so surreal. Maybe it's because it was so unexpected. Maybe it's because he was so young. Maybe it's because he left behind so many people who loved and needed him. Whatever it is, the fact that he's dead is just so goddamn wrong that I don't think I can get my feeble brain around it.
Oh yeah, and toasting Mark with a few shots of Jameson with my former Daymon coworkers didn't help either...in fact that was probably counter productive.
In one of our last email exchanges before I left Daymon Mark asked me to search the web for someone's email address. I replied and told him I couldn't find it and he would have to call the person. He replied back with a wise-ass comment about how he "thought I was resourceful" but that he would find the address online himself. I replied and called him a "butt-monkey" and reminded him that I had truly looked everywhere online and couldn't find it.
Now, had this been the average senior manager he might not have taken so kindly to that. However, a few minutes later, instead of an email reply back, Tarsi was standing in my cubicle doubled over and teary-eyed with laughter repeating the phrase "butt-monkey." He thought it was just hilarious! I'm so damn happy that I made him laugh that hard on what, I didn't know at the time, would be the last day I would ever see him.
Voices In My Head
My memories of Mark are so fresh. I can still see him walking around the office, talking on the phone, fidgeting and shifting positions a hundred times during a long annoying meeting. Strangely enough, part of me wants to be mad at him for having the nerve to die on us. But then I think; if he had known that the time was near, how incredibly sad he would be and just how much he wouldn't want to leave. Man he loved those kids. He was so damn proud of them.
One of the first things that I remembered when I heard that he had died was the time he was showing me his "Quit Smoking Spreadsheet" which contained his "methodology" for kicking the habit. The sheet contained a tab labeled "Inspiration" which was a picture of his wife and all the kids huddled on a couch.
I don't know why I did this to myself, but I actually called his work voicemail on Monday afternoon after I had heard the news, just to be sure to remember what his voice sounded like.
Since I can't seem to get my head around the fact that he's really gone, I've decided that I'll just let him live forever in my head. That sounds kind of strange, I know, but if you knew him you'd know that he won't be pushed out easily. His energy, humor, leadership, passion, and temperament will be stuck in my head for a long time, and hopefully some of it will rub off and have some effect on my actions each day on this planet.
We miss you Mark.
Tarsi Children's Education Fund
P.O. Box 8098
New Farifield, CT 06812
posted by Josh at 10:14 PM
Sorry to read about your friend. I will keep him and his family in my prayers.
By Winston, at 8:13 PM, November 13, 2004
Josh, thanks for posting this. Last Wednesday, I scribbled some thoughts onto a legal pad just trying to absorb the reality of Mark's death. I'd like to share some of it, although it's not nearly so articulate as yours. Here goes.
- Mark Tarsi died on Monday. I knew him for about a year, and of that, he was my boss for a mere six months. But few people in my life have had the same magnitude of effect in such a short time as he did. With his entrance into my life, he had extraordinarily good timing. He was directly responsible for saving my sanity at work, when it was rapidly deteriorating. He listened to and supported my ideas and scooped them up in his wonderful processes. He helped me make things happen that I could make happen on my own, and he taught me how to do it in the future. He valued me as an employee, as a person, and as a friend.
His continued efforts to stay connected even after I was no longer his charge were stunning to me, and I valued and appreciated the opportunity to have not only a good friend but also a mentor and champion on my side. I had recently invited him to join a task force as part of my new position, and was excited to be able to work with him again.
He was a genuinely nice guy who valued his family, his friendships, and his employees. I imagine that anyone who has worked for a bad boss, suffered through an miserable co-worker, or tolerated family turmoil, would appreciate that all those qualities in one person are wonderful and rare.
It doesn't seem real that he's gone. I keep asking questions, even though I know the answers are non-existent or ultimately unimportant. No answered question can change the fact that he's gone.
The question that won't leave my head is 'why didn't he survive this?' People survive heart attacks. It happens, I know it does. There are more questions, but I always come back around to that one. Why couldn't he get to the hospital fast enough? Why couldn't they resuscitate him when he arrived? Why wasn't modern medicine capable of saving Mark Tarsi?
What was he thinking when he started feeling ill? Was he afraid that he might die? Did he say anything to Trish? Did he have any idea that death was coming?
My sadness for Mark's death is, only a tiny way, about me losing a friend. It's msotly about how the people closest to him must be feeling, especially Trish, Matt, Mike, Erin, and Nick.
My first thought (after stunned disbelief) was of Nick. He called Nick his "little one." When he spoke of him, his face softened, his mouth turned a gentle smile, and his voice lowered. In more enthusiastic ways, his affection for the older kids was certainly apparent, but he had a soft spot for his baby. In a year, I didn't have the opportunity to meet Mark's family, but I felt like I knew them all.
By kellycoxsemple, at 12:34 AM, November 16, 2004
I read your comments and I feel the same way. The world is a bit sadder since he left for the pearly gates a week ago, but I have to say that because of who he is, God must have needed him to re-engineer IT in heaven. Put in a good word for us Mark when we arrive.
By Anonymous, at 9:42 AM, November 16, 2004
I don't really know if there is life after death, like you I think we are just gone, but the strange thing is that these last few days I am more focused and continously feel that I am still being steered towards Mark's vision by something or someone that I can't explain. It is as if Mark is guiding me in situations that I would have reacted diferently. Maybe its just the responsibility of continuing Mark's vision.
By Anonymous, at 9:50 AM, November 19, 2004
I am extremely touched to know what you thought of my father and your feeling of surreal does not even begin to describe what has happened.
I wish I could sit here and tell you what dad meant to us, but there are truly no words to describe that. He was our world and my mother's world. We all couldn't wait till dad got home, whether it was to have a conversation, watch a movie, throw the baseball around, talk sports or lately talk business. After seeing the turnout of coworkers and friends from Cadbury Schweppes and Daymon, I could see that his love for you guys went both ways. He always spoke so highly of the people he worked with.
By Matthew, at 5:31 PM, November 21, 2004
I'm very glad you liked what I wrote. I was sort of hoping it would get back to you guys one way or another...I guess I just needed to make sure that I was the billionth person to tell you how much your pop loved all you guys.
I know you and your family are in no short supply of support from your family and friends right now, but I meant what I said above. There is a contact form on this web site to get in touch with me any time. Please let me/us know if your family needs anything and we are there...the same way your dad was for us.
By Josh, at 8:12 PM, November 21, 2004
That really means a lot to us. Everyone has helped more than imaginable. I know that nobody will forget dad, he was a great man, and his legacy will truly live on forever.
By Anonymous, at 9:50 PM, November 21, 2004
Wow Josh ! What a write up about Mark! You eloquently captured what I think everyone is feeling. (I know I am)
I am going to miss him. I keep thinking he's on vacation he'll be back in the office any day now.
Thanks for putting in words what's been running through my mind these past weeks.
By Anonymous, at 2:36 PM, November 22, 2004
Mark was like a father to my son Timmy. He wrestles in college, and on his headgear he has written "R.I.P. Poppa T, my hero" I guess that sums up his feelings for Mark.
By Anonymous, at 9:27 AM, November 23, 2004
Dear Josh, Thank you for the beautiful tribute that you did for my husband, Mark. I'm glad that you posted his picture. November 8th was the worst day of my life. I lost half of my heart the day Mark died. The pain of losing him will never go away! I thank God everyday for the blessings that he has given me. Mark was best friend and soul mate. He and I have been together since I was 17 years old. Thank God for our four beautiful children. He will live on in them, but my heart will always be broken and I will always miss him and feel deep emptiness until the day I die.
Mark and I laughed so much of the time. We could find humor in alot of things. I sit and think of some of the things that happened in the past and some of the funny stories that we use to treasure. It is true those memories do get you through some rough times. I catch myself laughing out loud lately just thinking of them. That was another gift that he gave me. I will treasure forever.
I also want to thank everyone that reads your website for all the wonderful comments. People have been so generous and kind to me and my family. I always knew what a great man Mark was. I'm glad that I wasn't the only one that got to enjoy his greatness. Mark would be so happy to know that our family and friends are taking good care of us. They functioned for me when I couldn't function at all. I am growing stronger because of Mark and who he was and what he taught me and I will get my family through this. I am who I am because of Mark. I will make him so proud of all of us. I know that he is watching over us!!!
Thank you again, Josh - Tricia
By Tricia, at 9:29 PM, December 16, 2004
This past month has been so unreal. I wake up every morning and walk down stairs, hopeing to see Mom and Dad having their morning coffee, like they did every morning. I find myself checking, and searching for my Dad around the house, almost forgetting that he's gone. I have to remind myself that hes not here, quite often. The one thing that helps me get through day to day is knowing that, he is not dead. He isn't just lying a whole, his spirit is with us all of the time. I can always talk to him, and even though he may not answer, i know he hears me. The way i look at it is, he is my guardian angel and everything that happens good in my life, will be him. I should not feel sad for my Dad, although it is hard, he is not alone, he is with all of the people he once loved, that passed on. He's with his Mom and Dad. I know its hard not too feel sad for my Dad, but if he were to come back, he would probably be sad. Heaven is such a peaceful happy place, hes probably living it up, up there! Kinda like our trip to Jamacia.. you just never know! We will all see him agian one day, and hopefully that will get everyone who is missing my Dad, through the day!
Josh, thank you so much for writing so highly of my Dad. It is so nice to know, that he left such an impact on so many people!
By Erin, at 9:50 AM, December 20, 2004
Thanks very much for the comments Erin. I'm continually honored that you and your family are reading this entry and like what I've written. I'm also honored by the beautiful note that your mom mailed me (that's where I got the picture of course). It was extremely kind of all of you (I also heard from your uncle Dean via email) to drop me notes of appreciation in this awful time for your family. As I mentioned to your brother above, please let us know if there is anything we can do for you all.
By Josh, at 10:27 PM, December 20, 2004
Josh, thanks again for making this posting to Mark available for all those who knew and loved him.
I continue to learn that we cannot dwell on the past, but must live in the present and look towards the future, not having forgotten the one's who have left our lives along the way. I still miss my friend and feel truly fortunate that our paths had come to cross again in our lifetime... and that I remained in regular contact with Mark after he departed Cadbury to move onto Daymon.
I feel the pain of my colleagues whenever we reminisce of the good times we shared with Mark - and I know I had many. I have heard it said that laughter adds time to one's life... if this is true I am happy I was able to make Mark laugh... even when it was at my own expense. From our trip to the UK and Canada to our regular trips to Plano... I remember these times fondly.
Having lost my dad suddenly, I know that time does not make it better... it makes it easier to accept the passing. As time goes by, life does not get better, not is it worse... it is different. I have accepted not asking why people pass away when they do, it is all part of God's plan... not ours. Trish, Matthew, Michael, Erin and Nicholas - should you or the family need any help or just want to talk, please do not hesitate calling.
By Steve Karakasidis, at 3:34 PM, January 03, 2005
Way back when - in his Cadbury days - Mark and I became close friends. I actually hired him - "wet between the ears" ;) - because he had such a great attitude. We become good friends and "smoking buddies" when we started getting banned from smoking in our cubicles. Although we lost touch after I left the company, I've never lost my respect for Mark. He was a "true" person - what you see is what you get. He was clearly deeply in love with Trish and so fond of his boys! Yes - the ones in Dallas as well as those he and Trish made! I will never forget Mark - he taught me a lot about being one's own self and still managing to get along in the world. Tricia, I am so sorry that I did not hear about Mark's passing until now (April '05). If there is anything I can do for you, please let me know (). Mark was the best and I am truly saddened to hear of his loss.
By Gordon Bergen, at 2:01 AM, April 16, 2005
I am so sorry Trish. Gordon just told me. My prayers to you and your family. I am just stunned. While we had lost touch over the years I thought of you both often.
Please give us a call if you need anything.
By Carolyn Bergen, at 12:45 PM, April 16, 2005
It has been over a year since my Dad's death and despite the pain that still excists, my family has pulled through to the best of our ability. Thank you again for making this great website to honor my Dad. It means the world to me.
By Erin, at 10:44 PM, December 29, 2005
My pleasure Erin, thanks for checking in and letting us know how you guys are doing. My best to your mom and brothers...here's to a bright 2006!
By Josh, at 10:49 PM, December 29, 2005
Dear Josh- Do you believe that Mark has been gone for 4 1/2 years. I don't know why but I needed to view your site and just be close to Mark. Alot of things have happened since Mark died. There have been so many wonderful things going on in my children's lives. I am so proud and I know that I wasn't alone even till now raising my children and teaching them to make the right decisions. Mark is looking over us for sure. It is also people; special people like you that bring opportunity and teach and nurture that not only touches that one single person but HE carries on home to his siblings and in turn teaches them. I appreciate everything that you have done to touch not one but all of Mark's family. It really touches my heart and I know that life is good.
By Patricia, at 8:50 PM, June 21, 2009
Tricia - thanks for the note...glad this posting is still visited now and again.
Your words are very touching, but in truth I'm the one who has been truly fortunate to have Mark's boy as an employee. I sometimes wonder if he was a "gift" from Mark in thanks for saying nice things about him on the internet :) and if Matt and I would be working together if Mark were alive - but either way, there is no doubt in my mind that we couldn't operate as we do and I couldn't have gotten this far with this company without his help and support. He's the "glue" of the operation.
Hoping he brings the "big unit" by the office for lunch this week. :)
By Josh, at 11:24 PM, June 21, 2009