Eric and I were so shocked when we heard that you were hospitalized and induced a coma before Thanksgiving. We contacted Heidi right away and sent our healing thoughts and energy every moment we could.
When we received a call early morning on Saturday, December 4th, we were doubled shocked, could not think, and did not want to believe that you had passed away.
Eric and I are deeply heartbroken…
So many of your friends are feeling lost. They created WhatsApp group page, but I am not feeling at ease with belonging to a big group, as you know.
Now, after the shock, the depths of sadness that I do not want to feel are coming up and getting stronger. I can’t focus, not able to sleep. It has not hit yet, but I know that deep grief of pain is coming.
I know everyone has a different way of coping with grieving. I did not know how to go through my grief, except writing…I started to write whatever came to my mind.
Now I know that I want to write “a letter” to you. I will add photos as I find them since you like photos and I have taking so many photos.
Mark, you were the most influential person for me to have the experience to cook macrobiotics in many different conferences and retreats.
I met you while helping my first macrobiotic teacher Cecil Tovah Levin’s cooking class at the Health Classic Macrobiotic conference in 1994. Because of your friendliness and generosity, I was able to join your cooking team after that year. I am forever grateful to you for me to have the experiences to cook for 500~700 people with a bathtub size container/pan/pot and an oar as a spatula.
You cooked for Macrobiotic Summer camps/conferences for 22 years, then in 2016 at Kushi Institute and Taste of Health Cruise for 15 years. You were in the macrobiotic scene for over 40 years. You fed macrobiotic food for so many people through your hard work, artistry and love of what truly matters. Your big heart connected all of us. I respect all you did.
Mark, your food was simply delicious. One of my favorites was when you add fried kombu to a dish.
I also loved the lunch box to go you prepared on the last day of the conference.
You did not forget a pickle!
We got together every year and we had so much fun.
You and Heidi lived next door to us in Santa Monica when you were cooking for your clients in Los Angeles, and fortunately, Eric and I spent time together with you both.
I wish I were more mobilized to do things with you and Heidi, but I had so much physical pain with my legs and feet from the near-death car crash in 2001 still, I could not go out much, and I struggled with PTSD.
You were such a kind person to everyone. I thank you for sending me a birthday message every year since my birthday was two days after yours.
When you told me that you attended Osaka Art University in Japan when you were younger, we talked about Japan a lot, where you visited and what you did. You told me that you had the Japanese nickname “Genmai Taro,” meaning brown rice boy (Taro is one of the most well-known boys’ names in Japan) because you were eating brown rice there even most Japanese people eat white rice, and you were a vegan.
You were a creative artist.
You encouraged me to do more art after I lost mobility to walk.
I enjoyed seeing your art whenever you sent or showed me what you were doing.
I wish I could go to your exhibit last year. I love your recent art below. I remember you were currying tons of magazine cutting crips in manila folders. When I asked what those are, you said they would be your new art projects. I am so happy that you completed and showed at the exhibition.
I wish you could come to the SMC art exhibit to see my woodblock print and calligraphy art below last year.
The letter of calligraphy style is Akim.
(Akim is created by German calligrapher, sculptor, and musician, Hans-Joachim Burgert. This lovely, gentle hand that is said to replicate the rhythm of the human heart) I did not know how Akim was created at first when I started to use it for my calligraphy, but I felt so familiar and it is my favorite calligraphy letter. So I have been using it for my website cover and business card, etc.
I wrote this Haiku Poem for me and everyone to thrive and live a new path (new normal).
Mark, I hope you enjoy it and find your new path.
You were so happy that I went to Japan after I recovered from stage IV lymphoma in 2019. You said you want to revisit Japan soon – when I go back there again, I want to take Mark Berry there since he told me he always wanted to go to Japan so promise me that you go there with us together, all right?
We will visit the Kamakura temple you loved, go to Osaka, where you lived, and see the Osaka university you attended in Japan.
Mark, you loved many things; these are at least what I know…
Heidi – You loved Heidi so much. You were a popular guy when you were single, so I thought you would never marry. When you introduced me to Heidi, you said you felt that she was the one for you, and you married her later. I was very happy for you.
People – You must know several thousand people, and I knew you often contacted many of your friends to see how they were doing. One day I saw you were on the phone for a long time outside the garden; I asked you, “Mark, you l like to talk so much?” Your reply was, “You saw I was on the phone? I called several people to make sure they were ok. You know, I need to take care of my people.”
You cared and accommodated people so much.
You loved your friends and family – you expressed your love and devoted caring by contacting us – phone calls, postcards, messenger, texting, and visiting.
Ohhh, Eric and I will miss your call, messenger, and postcards!
Please show us a sign of something if you are contacting us!
Water (sea/ocean, river, pond, and lake)- You would go to the beach even if you had only 30 minutes. In winter, I saw you skinny dip in frozen cold water in a mountain of North Fork. My only wish was I jump in with you.
Humor and Scoops – Mark, did you know that you would rub your hands together every time you were about hearing a scoop someone said, or you were about to tell us something really delicious joke…your expression of excitement, devilish blue eyes, and rubbing your hands went together as Mark original.
Eric and I will tell you some super scoops so you would rub your hands and have a big smile in heaven.
I know you posted many times on FB, Macrobiotic Comedy Club.
I did not understand some of them because American humor are different from Japanese ones. But I usually enjoyed them a lot.
The last post you did was on November 5th – Nancy Drew Mystery Stories below.
Here are some of my favorites from your post’s last couple of months.
Taking photos – We used to compete how many photos we took during traveling. You did not like that I took way too many photos than you at that time and had a better camera.
Movies – You loved watching movies and me too. We compare which ones we saw, and we did not see.One day, you asked me if someone would play your life in a film, which actor should play you. I really hope this one you remember…I said, I love “Gary Oldman,” so how about him? You said, ” You love Gary Oldman?” I love Gary Oldman too, and you wished Gary Oldman played you.
Music – There was always music while cooking at conferences, etc. Your music selections were sometimes different than my music selections. The most memorable tune you introduced me was Emmylou Harris, who I had never heard before. You said, “you don’t know Emmylou Harris? If you do not know her songs, you do not know about life.” After listening to her and paying attention to her lyrics, I knew what you meant, Mark, I am sure you knew that she had the same birthday as yours.
I am listening to her tune right now (This one, she is singing with Mark Knopfler – Our Shangri-La), and a flood of my tears is coming down.
Animals – You were a caring person for animals too. I remember your dog, Wendy, when I met you the first time.
You cared about my animal family, but I did not know that you did not feel comfortable with my cat, Tora sitting on your legs for the first time since you never had a cat in your life. But you learned to get to know all of my cats, and you accept that cats love you so much.
You took all my six dogs for a walk whenever you visited because I could not walk them. They loved you so much.
Your favorite was Leo, and you gave him the nickname “Whee Whee.” I asked you what it means, and you said he was just Whee Whee to you. He loved you so much and always stayed with you.
You wanted to take him with you when you moved, so you were sad when I told you that Leo passed last year.
Now Leo is waiting for you at the rainbow bridge, and he is running to you stay with you forever when you call, “Whee Whee.”
Kids – You were so kind to young people. My niece still remembers you when I took her to one of the Health Classic Macrobiotic conferences after losing her father when she was only five years old. You were so compassionate to her.
Nature – When Eric and I had a restaurant named “Seed Kitchen”, and you were living next door to us, you said, “There were so many seeds of plants and trees as walking around the house. Did you know?”
I said, “Yes, I know there were many beautiful seeds around, and I have collected many of them.” then I showed them to you.
You said, “Let’s hang them!”
Later you showed me the ones you picked and hung at your place on the wall.
All the seeds looked so artistic and eye-catching.
I copied your idea and hung mine on the wall of my place, and you liked mine too.
I asked Eric to bring your collection of seeds that you left on the wall when you moved out from the next door. I have hung them together with my collections of seeds.
They are still above our dining table (now has some dust, hahaha.)
We went hiking Santa Monica mountain before I lost mobility. One time, a bunch of us went hiking Malibu Malibu Creek State Park. We had so much fun, but because we were talking too much and we got lost, it got so dark and late, and we did not know how to come out of the park, do you remember? Thanks to Eric for saving all of us.
You would go camping a lot without plans, and I know you often visited Joshua Tree when you lived in Santa Monica. I always wished to go with you and your group if I had mobility.
Mark, I have been walking about 1.5 miles to 2 miles since last year with my dog family. After you departed, I have been walking without my crutch. I will visit Joshua Tree someday, and we will meet there.
Eric and I rent Sprinter Van this weekend and going up the coast; I am sure you will come with us and jump into a cold Pacific ocean with Eric.
Yesterday, I realized I was walking with my dogs on the sidewalk of 23rd St. – this must be the street you walked to play basketball practice with local boys at Virginia Avenue Park. I cried and missed you that I wish I had walked to the park with you when you lived here.
Mark, you were a conscious human. I know you had sleepless nights just like anybody. Sometimes, when I could not sleep, I noticed your window’s light was up when you lived next door. I talked to you one day, do you remember? You said, “Zuu (the nickname he gave me), were you up too? Then you know, you know…I sometimes, think…you know, you know.” I said, “No, I do not know, you need to tell me.”
I could talk to you about anything, and you talked to me about million little things we were going through in life.
I am going to miss our conversations.
Do you remember Mark, Eric and I organized your 40th birthday here at our house? Eric practiced a birthday song with his saxophone many days and played it for you. It was one of the crazy special memories.
Mark, you called me while I was in Trauma Hospital in Arizona after I had a near-death car crash and three days comma in 2001. I was not expecting to hear from anybody, so I was happy when I heard your voice. I appreciate your support when I told you that doctors diagnosed that I would not walk anymore. I was crying that I could not cook with you anymore. You said gently – I wanted to teach macrobiotics anyway, not just cook macrobiotics before the car crash. That was why I did not go cook at the Summer Conference that summer of 2001; instead, I went to Michio Kushi’s Level 4 class to take. You reminded me of my purpose to continue macrobiotic.
Mark, you already lived in Belgium most of the time, but you told Eric and me that you were coming to our wedding. That was so meaningful thing you did for us. You and John Saslow even went to a bachelor party with Eric, my brother, and a bunch of Eric’s friends.
Mark, you came to see me while I was taking chemotherapy after being diagnosed with stage IV lymphoma only weeks live in 2017. Sadly, that was the last time I saw you in person. I told you that I would get better, teach, and see you again.
…I can’t believe that I will not see you in person anymore on this earth…
After Eric and I heard your departure, we went to the beach where you loved to go often. Here is the photo I took while Eric quietly did SUP (Stand Up Paddle); many pelicans flew over.
I felt that pelicans were sending you off your departure.
I checked the pelican’s symbols and meaning when I came home. Pelicans are symbolic of sacrifice, humility, and generosity. That says Mark Hanna to me!!!
Mark, I thank you for your friendship for a long time.
Your light remains, Mark, this is for you.
There are some who bring a light so great to the world.
That even after they have gone, the light remains.
Have safe journey!
Till we meet again!
Love, Sanae ❤️
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Dear Sanae- this is so deeply beautiful and so moving for me to see all these images of Mark in the course of your years of knowing and loving him as a deep friend. I am just one of the thousands who met and loved him instantly and always held him in heart even in the years that passed by without meeting again.
You capture so much about him and the clear treasure that you both clearly were to each other through all those years is so beautifully clear…..the grief is always as huge as the love and so I wish you the greatest courage as the ocean of reluctant acceptance of the painful truth of your loss washes through you…..
feeling the depth of sorrow that I feel as someone who got to spend so little time with Mark~ I can only imagine the volume of grief you have to contend with….. and yet you have the huge grace of connection and precious time spent together~ of this I am so glad for you both.,,,,,,sending much love and thanks for this beautiful post xxx
Susa, Thank you for your comments. Mark was out of an ordinary person to many people and us. I am glad that you met him and were touched by his extraordinary. Writing this letter to him helped me go through my grief and learn to accept that the wave of emotions comes and goes. Thank you again for your comments! Love, Sanae ❤️
You had beautiful memories with Mark. Although he was not really a personal friend of mine I first met him from the Belize trip (Christina & Robert Pirello trip) and then subsequently have met again during K.I. summer conferences and on the cruise. I remember he had the most beautiful blue eyes.
Macro, Thank you for your comments. Mark had beautiful blue eyes. I am so glad that you met him and saw him a few more times. His joyful personality will remain within our hearts. Love, Sanae ❤️