long, long ago I wrote about the grotto. then I wrote about it again. and again.
I wrote about its majestic walls, I wrote about its weeping rock. I wrote about my love for city creek canyon and its unique personality. I wrote about the feeling at the top of this rich, loamy canyon filled with verdant shade and exuberant growth, a feeling of omnipresent peace.
what I haven't ever written about is marco.
the canyon that houses the grotto where the pavement finally ends is the canyon marco grew up playing in. close to home, full of wild things and running water and adventure: this was marco's stomping ground. as he grew, his interest in the canyon likely moved to its ability to provide dark, private places, and when he finally chose a bride and married, he married her at the top of this canyon, at weeping rock memorial grotto.
we friends and family sat on chairs squeezed onto a narrow ledge on the southeastern wall of rock, glorying and cheering as marco and susan exchanged their vows. we then celebrated in the pavilion, dancing until the light disappeared and the champagne no longer flowed.
marco was larger than life. he charmed, he flirted, he wore his heart on his sleeve. he hunted waterfowl, he cooked feasts with gusto, he loved wine. charisma dripped from his pores; he was a teddy bear you couldn't resist hugging. his deep brown eyes oozed concern, his steady gaze let you know he was focused on you and only you.
he helped me mourn two children.
he fathered three of his own.
his heart was anything but grinch-like: marco's heart was possibly two sizes too big.
marco is no longer with us; marco will always be with us.
for me, the grotto will always hold marco's presence. his wit, his magnetism, his purity. his largesse, his intensity, his belief in all things good. all of this will live in the lush growth around the creek, the moss and lichen that grow on the trees and rocks. it will live in the stalwart trees, the stone bridge, the loop of broken and beleaguered asphalt. it will live in the beauty of the grotto, it will live in the walls of rock that weep.
we can weep for our own loss, hugely, magnificently, but we are best served if we let the rock show us who marco is: someone grown huge with love, someone strong and resolute, someone who lived every moment he was alive, someone who now weeps for us in our pain.
you are loved, marco, and we who feel your love in return are among the most fortunate people on God's green earth. thank you, marco, for blessing so very many of us in this way. may we learn, someday, how best to honor you for that gift.