All I wanted to say is thank you to all those who have helped me with Mysterious in the past few days. I’ve spent the last 2 weeks seriously questioning whether people value my friendship… long story… But then others who I didn’t expect have done and said things that has really touched me. In fact they’ve spoken so loudly to me that I feel like I’m standing 1cm away from a jet engine. But less traumatizing than standing in front of a jet engine. Actually, it’s the complete opposite of the feeling I would have standing in front of a jet engine 😛 You guys are so cool 🙂 When people are just willing to throw themselves out there and do whatever they can to support you and what you’re trying to do, it’s indescribable 🙂 What a team you guys make!!! 😀 May God bless you thousands of times over for your kindness 😀
It appears the newspaper hasn’t uploaded our article to the website. So here we go! Enjoy! And go grab your copy of the “Cumberland News” for 90p!
There is a place called heaven. And Michael is in the presence of God.
Mark Knight is staging a special show about his son’s life and mysterious death and has recruited former Hollywood hellraiser Stephen Baldwin to star in it.
Life is a mystery. Why do bad things happen to good people? Two thoughts that spin round Mark Knight’s head like the wheels on the bike that he pedals round Kielder Water regularly. It’s not his bike. It’s Michael’s, his son. Only Michael isn’t here to use it any more. He died August 1 2009, aged 18. Mark found him in his bed, just after 8am.
“I’ve never had to wake him in the morning, he was always up and he was a strong, healthy fella. He was just lying there, his arm was above his head, it just looked natural,” explains Mark. “The coroner said there was no evidence whatsoever of sudden death syndrome. There was no evidence of Mikey’s heart giving out. He said, ‘there is no earthly reason why your son died.’ I believe God took him, but I don’t know why, that’s the mystery.”
Mark regularly rides Mike’s bike round Kielder Water, it was one of the favourite activities they did together. The 52-year-old looks like a friendlier, slightly less groomed version of Robert De Niro. He speaks in soft, measured tones, but from time to time his voice hardens as emotion bubbles when he talks of Michael or some attitudes to death and grief. The family are practising Christians and Mark says he could have turned against God. “I was so angry with God. I came out of Mikey’s room and I asked why him and not me?”
It has been three years now. Michael’s death has changed the lives of the family in all kinds of ways, many for the better. But there’s still a lot of pain. “I believe there’s a place called heaven. I think Michael is in the presence of God,” he says defiantly. “Part of my ability to handle it all is I believe he is in heaven. Mikey is always in my thoughts, there’s not a day that goes by when he is not in my thoughts in some way.”
“You walk with a limp for the rest of your life. The pain, the pain is less – but that doesn’t mean I don’t just sit there at times and go ‘what happened?’ You pinch yourself and wonder, did it really happen? You go back to the shock of that moment when you found your son dead,” says Mark as he folds his arms again and rolls his tongue round his mouth.
“You struggle. There were days I wanted to hit the bottle and days when I sat there and spiralled down into such darkness and you are just telling yourself to breathe. You wake up and you have all these plans for the day and by 9am you are back in your bed and going to sleep to shut out the pain.” His eyes wander to the window of his office and flick around the view outside the window as he searches for words.
“But out of this we have found ways of good and we as a family are incredibly purposeful about what we do. Why waste energy with things that don’t matter with people who do matter?” One of the ways the family has found purpose over the past few years is to set up the Michael Knight Trust to help provide funding for youngsters to go to music college.
Mark works as corporate services director for the ships of the evangelical Christian charity “Operation Mobilisation” at their Kingstown base. The charity operates ships which visit developing countries around the world to help projects involving education, building, disaster relief and medical help; as well as donating food, clothing and books.
He started on board when he was 19 back in 1979. He met his wife Kathy on board and their first daughter Akila was born in Australia in 1988. The family moved to the city in 1993 after Akila contracted meningitis which left her deaf. Their other daughter Laura, 18, has just completed her A-Levels at Trinity School, where her brother and sister both attended.
At school and home Michael was a quiet boy – though not a loner according to his dad. “He would be in the crowd, but always on the edge of it. He was very happy and contented. He only had a few friends and would only see them once a month or so, but they meant a lot to him.” He left Trinity when he was 16 and enrolled for a course at Carlisle College, but didn’t enjoy it. When Mark suggested he get a job onboard an OM ship that was about to sail to the Caribbean, the teenager jumped to the chance and loved the work as a deckhand.
When he returned, he found himself a college course to study the guitar and started to work for McDonald’s to raise money for it. He was always up and out early for work, which is why Mark was so concerned on August 1 2009 when he didn’t hear him getting ready for work.
The devastating effects of Michael’s death were felt by his friends at school and at McDonald’s. “When Mikey died it left big questions for a number of the young people at Trinity,” says Mark quietly. “He was not sick, he was not killed, he didn’t have an accident, he just didn’t wake up.” A number of youngsters visited the Knights following Michael’s death. Mark says: “They wanted to talk about life and death, did Mike have a good life? What makes a good life?
Hollywood star unites with family through faith.
Michael’s family are still getting to grips with grief and how and why it all happened. The show “Mysterious?” is part of that. Aimed at teenagers, the idea is to discuss life changing situations and how to deal with them. Why do bad things happen to good people?
Taking place at the Sands Centre, Carlisle, on September 8, it involves magicians; London rappers WriteWay; and former Hollywood hellraiser Stephen Baldwin. Star of “The Usual Suspects”, “Bio Dome” and “The Flintstones”.
“We don’t want it to be heavy, but we do want it to be serious,” says Mark. “The idea is to weave the story of Mikey throughout the evening. It’s not a memorial event or an event to raise funds for the Trust. It is an evening to address some of the questions we have in life.”
He met Stephen Baldwin in 2005 through a mutual friend and the pair have become close over the years. The movie star didn’t take much persuasion to make a special trip across the Atlantic to appear in such a quirky show, millions of miles and dollars away from he productions he is use to.
“When he coms into a room there is a presence about Stephen,” smiles Mark. “He is one of the most gentle and humble people. He’s not proud, but he is absolutely in your face about his Christianity. People have a love-hate relationship with him.”
As well as their friendship the fact that the show was appealing to youngsters was key to the star making the transatlantic trip. “For Stephen it was the depth of what we are trying to do,” explains Mark. The actor will tell his story of how he turned from Hollywood badboy to born-again Christian; the illusionists will MC the event; and the Knights will be interviewed about Michael, his death and what can be learned from it. The event is being staged in connection with local churches and the “Living Well Trust” in Raffles.
There are plans to involve Stephen Baldwin in skateboard demonstrations and for him to visit Carlisle Youth Zone on the Friday.
As we say goodbye, Mark tells me two stories of how he and Michael did things together. They are little, everyday stories that could happen any day to every father and son across the country. Mark has them stored in his memory like treasure. His own little piece of heaven on earth. “I don’t regret any of it,” he smiles.
* For more information, go to: www.michaelknighttrust.com
* Mysterious? is at The Sands Centre on Saturday 8th September. Tickets cost £5 (plus booking fee), and are available online at www.thesandscentre.co.uk or from The Sands Centre box office, or by calling 01228 633766