He had the warm, friendly smile. He gave the warm, friendly hello.
It did not matter where or when I saw him. It did not matter if it was morning, afternoon, or evening, on a given day of the week, month, or year.
What mattered is that Mark Desmoulin was a kind kid with a good heart and an infectious smile.
And what is heartbreaking and sad is that after years of struggling with drug addiction, Mark passed away recently at the young age of 37.
I knew that Mark had addiction issues because he told me so when our paths crossed in the downtown area a couple of a years ago.
At that time, I had not seen Mark for a number of years, back to when he was working at Jiffy Car Wash.
And when I did happen to run into him in the downtown area where I live, it was the same, friendly greeting that I received from Mark as in previous years.
“Hi Mr. Russon,” he said, with that big smile of his. “How are you?”
We chatted about hockey for a few minutes, he told me of his struggles and said he was “trying to get better.”
I am guessing that he never did get better.
But in the meantime, I would see him often. Sometimes he looked okay, sometimes he didn’t. But it was always the same greeting from him, with the friendly smile: “Hi Mr. Russon. How’s it going?”
When I first read of Mark’s passing, just the other day, I was stunned and saddened, all in one. I had just seen him not that long ago, as in the day before or the day of his passing.
I always thought of Mark as a really nice kid. I first knew of him as a good hockey player with the AAA midget Soo North Stars and a St. Mary’s College high school classmate of my daughter, Cara.
In fact, there was a time when Mark was as a good a local player as future Ontario Hockey League stars of his age, namely Cole Jarrett, Craig Kennedy and Chris Thorburn.
At any rate, it is with great sadness that I write of Mark’s passing and try to make sense of the path that he was on and why. He was a good person and had good intentions as a son, a brother, a father and a friend with a lot of love to give.
I liked Mark from the time I met him, when he was healthy and strong.
And even as he struggled and was in pain, he always managed to flash that warm smile and extend that warm greeting: “Hi Mr. Russon.”
I am not sure if Mark looked for professional help and support and did not get it. I am not sure if Mark tried to help himself but could not.
But what I do know is what I have already stated: that Mark was a good person with a good heart with good intentions with plenty of love to give.
Bless you, Mark. You are safe now, man.
And your life mattered.