Gone But Never Forgotten

February 27, 2009
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'That was a great game, and I'm so proud of you,' Alan told his son Mark as they were walking the halls of Garfield High School.

'Thanks Dad. You know college scouts are coming to the big game, the East Game.'

'Yeah I know Coach McGee told me,' Alan said excitedly. It was a dark and cold night. The snow storm was dying off and the weather was supposedly getting better but Alan felt something unfamiliar. He felt as if something was going to happen, something bad. Alan walked the halls of Garfield since he was in high school but for some reason the halls felt so unfamiliar, the air, everything felt unfamiliar. As they walked out of the school building Alan looked at his son and never before did he realize just how much they looked alike. They were both very tall. Alan 6' 5' and Mark just a bit taller at 6' 7'. His eyes, nose, smile, everything seemed to resemble Alan and for the first time in 18 years Alan now noticed.

The way Mark's eyes were deep and hazel. His caramel skin complexion and how his smile was bright and big. The way his teeth were completely straight. Why did Alan notice this now? Why didn't Alan notice this the moment Mark was born? Why didn't he realize it the first time Mark crawled or the first step he took? Why not when Mark started pre-school or lost his first tooth? Why did Alan notice this now? Why now? What made today different than any other day? 'Dad, are you ok?' Mark interrupted.

'Yeah, son I'm fine. It's just that you look a lot like me and I realized this now.'

'Dad, everyone says we look alike. They say I'm your spitting image. I've always noticed, the only difference is that I look better,' Mark retorted.

'Ha-ha good one,' Alan snickered. As soon as he that there was a loud gun shot.

'No! Mark get behind a car and stay low!' Before Mark could make another move Alan seen his son collapse to the ground as a bullet shot threw him. Suddenly the shooting stopped and Coach McGee, along with other basketball players stormed outside to see what had happened. Alan ran to Mark. 'Mark!!!!' Alan hollered. He grabbed his son and looked at him. All of a sudden the car swerved back, shot a few times and left. Alan noticed a sign on the car, a gang sign that he recognized, he got one good look at the passenger who had been shooting. Alan would never forget the look as he held his song and would not let go.

'I'm calling 9-1-1!' Coach McGee hollered. Waiting for the ambulance felt like the longest wait of Alan's life. He held his Mark in the parking lot and looked down at his son who had loved so much, and who had love for everyone. Who respected everyone.

'I love you dad,' Mark stuttered holding on to his last breath. 'Tell mom that I love her, and tell Tia that I love her too.'

'Mark, you stay strong, hang on, hang on.' Out of nowhere, the ambulance sirens bursted through the silence. They took Mark, and Alan went along with him. The ambulance rushed through everything. When they got to the hospital they took Mark back. After ten minutes the basketball team entered the room and then Alan had to the toughest thing he's ever imagined, tell his wife about what happened. Alan picked up his cell phone and dialed.

'Hello,' Alan's wife Sherry picked up the phone.

'Hey honey,' Alan said. Right away Sherry knew something was wrong.

'Alan, what's wrong? Where are you?' Sherry questioned.

'I'm at Akron General Hospital, Mark's been shot'' Alan's voice trailed off.

'What? My Mark. Our Mark. Who did it? I'm coming down there!' Alan could hear the worry in Sherry's voice. He knew she would be able to tell if something was wrong, she always did. Five minutes later Sherry rushed in and sat down next to her husband realizing that she was never promised another day nor was her husband. Alan looked around at the hospital walls. He hated hospitals, they were so depressing in his eyes. Last time he was there was when Sherry delivered there baby girl Nahla, who died two hours after she was born. Ever since his daughter died Alan would not go into the hospital or any hospital for that matter. The white walls, plain lighting, the fish tank. Once Alan thought of the fish tank he broke down even more. When Mark was a kid and would come to the hospital, he would love looking at the fish tank, it was interesting in a kid's eye.

Suddenly Alan's thoughts were interrupted by the doctor. 'Mr. and Mrs. Tylun?' he said.

'Yes,' Alan and Sherry replied at the same time.

'Are you the mother and father of Mark Tylun?'

'Yes, yes we are,' they again repeated at the same time.

'I don't know how to tell you this'but, Mark's gone. The bullet went through a main artery and we tried everything but he didn't pull through. I'm so sorry, I really am.' At that moment Alan blocked out everything. The only thing he could hear was his wife Sherry, who was screaming so Alan grabbed her and held her.

'Where's Mark?' Tia blurted out as she walked in the hospital waiting room. Tia was Mark's girlfriend of five years. They started dating in the eighth grade but liked each other since they were in elementary school.

'Tia, I'm so sorry,' Alan said trying to be the strong one even though the news was killing him inside, 'He's gone. My son is gone.'

'No, no, no, no, no. Please God no!' Tia cried, 'Why? Why Mark?' Sherry and Tia held each other and cried. Alan just daydreamed as he had been for the last two hours. He felt like it was the day he lost his daughter Nahla. Alan had no more children. He lost the only one he had left. Who was Alan going to watch walk across the stage to receive their diploma? Who was going to give Alan the grandchildren he always dreamed of? After Alan snapped back to reality he took Tia and Sherry with him.

'Come on Tia, I'll take you home,' Alan mumbled. They got to Tia's house and before she walked out she gave her condolences to Alan and Sherry.

'I'm so sorry,' Tia stated. 'He loved you guys so much. All he ever talked about was the two of you.'

Sherry looked up at Tia and said, 'You were all he ever talked about,' she smiled, 'He always said he would marry you one day and you would be the mother of his children.' Sherry began to cry again.

'Goodnight,' Tia muttered under her breath. As they were driving back home down Grant Street the whole scene flashed up in Alan's head. When Alan stopped replaying the scene he saw that face, the boy who killed his son. He pulled the car over and studied the boy.

'Why did you stop the car?' Sherry asked.

'That's him. He killed Mark!' Alan exclaimed, 'Stay here and lock the doors. Call the police.' What was this crazy murderer doing out here after he just shot someone?

'Be careful, I love you.' Sherry told Alan, the love of her life.

'Love you too.' Alan's hear was racing as it had been since the moment the first bullet struck. Alan placed his hand on the murderers shoulder.

'Whoa!' the boy jumped, 'Who are you?' The boy took a closer look and Alan could see the stunned look on his face. The boy ran, and at that very same moment the police sirens roared through the street. An officer stopped and arrested him as he read the boy his rights and shoved him in the police car. Another man walked out of a car, a detective.

'Are you sure this is him?' he asked.

'Yes, 100 percent sure,' Alan said.

'Ok you can go home; we will call you and let you know when you're scheduled for court. Thank you,' the detective said.

'No'.thank you,' Alan approached his car and Sherry unlocked the door.

'They got 'em?' Sherry asked anxiously.

'Yeah but we still, or I still have to go to court.' Alan did not sleep all night.

The next morning he got a call from the school asking if it would be ok if they held a memorial at the East game. The East game was the biggest game of the season considering Garfield and East were long time rivals so everyone would be there. Alan and Sherry talked it over and agreed that it was ok. Alan went to court and the man who killed his son was found guilty and sentenced to life.

Two weeks after the murder of Mark the East game came around and Alan gathered the strength to go to the game. Mark was so excited about the game, college scouts were going to be there but not for Mark. At the start of the game they had a moment of silence for Mark as they did every game since his death. They began the memorial and many students spoke. They also had a slideshow of pictures of Mark.

'Are you Alan Tylun?' a voice asked.

'Yes'Why do you ask?'

'I'm one of the scouts from Akron University. We really had our eye on your son. I'm so sorry for your loss,' the man said kindly. Alan just smiled at the man and for the first time since he lost his son he felt more close to Mark than ever before.

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