Tomorrow is the 8th of April, my brother’s birthday. He would have been 40 years old, so tomorrow is a BIG day for myself and my family. Ordinarily I like to keep my blog fairly free of details of my private life, focussing more on my writing and novels, but as he has been on my mind so much in the last few days I felt that today’s blog should be all about him.

Mark Richard Eastman was a good man. Not perfect, not a saint, but a genuinely good guy. Sadly he was taken from us at the age of 33 by cancer, a brain tumour to be more precise. 33 is far too young for a good man to leave this world, and now, 7 years on, there is not a single day that goes by when he is not missed. By me, by my younger brother, by my parents, by his wife Marie, and I am sure by scores and scores of others.

Small things will remind me of him, or make me think of him. I can’t listen to any Iron Maiden music without picturing him as he was when he and I went to see them live in London a decade or so ago. I can’t use my iPad without thinking “Mark would have loved iPads” (he was always a gadget man, and incredibly tech-savvy), I can’t play computer games without remembering the many, many, many hours we spent as children playing on the BBC B (an ancient computer that you plugged into the telly, for anyone too young to remember), then on the Nintendo (anyone else remember Duck Hunt?) and then the PS2 (oh, the hours of our lives we wasted on Baldur’s Gate and Grand Theft Auto). And any time I achieve something in my life, or have problems and need to talk to someone, or I just want to share a funny story, the absence of him shreds my heart all over again.

He loved curry, and introduced me to some amazing dishes, and amazing curry houses. He enjoyed real ale, and tomorrow I will be raising a pint of Hobgoblin in his honour. He was an absolute whizz with anything technical or computer-ey, and I can’t believe he is not here to see that his Luddite brother now has his own website. He loved his wife, and I hope he knows that she is still loved in his absence by those he left behind, and always will be. He loved Sunderland football club, and though I am not the biggest football fan in the world I religiously follow their results and celebrate/get depressed by their victories/defeats, for him.

He was also kind, and generous, and always available when I needed him. My largest regret in life is that there were a few years in my late teens/early twenties when we didn’t speak/see each other as often as we previously had or then went on to do, and the blame for that is entirely mine. I was young, self-involved and far too interested in my own life to the exclusion of everything else in the world. Mark, if you’re out there somewhere and can read this, please know that I am sorry for the wasted time (wasted often being the operative word when thinking about those years) and if I could go back and do it over I would spend so much more time with you than I did.

And that’s the thing, isn’t it? Do we ever spend enough time with those we love? Life is short, and fleeting, and we never know what is going to come round the corner and knock us on our backsides. We never know what will happen to make a mockery of our plans, to ensure that those things that we put off never actually get done. “I’ll call him tomorrow”. “I’ll go see them next month, this month is far too busy”. “Maybe next year”.

Screw that, I say, don’t put off those phone calls, don’t put your faith in the fact that there’ll be another chance next month, or next year, or in five years’ time, don’t postpone the things that are really important for the sake of work/finances/rubbish. Because life might just surprise you and then you’ll have missed your chance.

My brother was a good man, he is missed, and I guess the whole point of this cathartic blog is for me to say out loud to the world that I regret not having spent more time with him when I could. He would have been 40 tomorrow, and we should have been having one hell of a party to celebrate. Instead I will be ordering a curry, having a beer and trying to remember the good times without focussing too much on just how much he is missed.

Mark Richard Eastman, good man, great brother, fantastic husband, and I now he would have been an amazing uncle. You are missed, Mark, you are loved, and you are in our minds and hearts, now and always.

I don’t think I can follow my own advice on this occasion, but it’s good advice anyway.

Stay Frosty, People.

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