It’s been tough week so far. Really tough. I’ve got a major stressor at work that will be over one way or another next week – and went beyond what I thought the stresses of that were going to be. Compounded with that there were about 24 hours of super crappy (because according to Michael Stevens of VSauce there’s no such thing as suck) that involved losing TWO people who’ve played big parts in my life.
Saturday evening I saw a post by Alan Balthrop that said, “I say ye, Casey Sledge.” My brain freaked out. I couldn’t finish my thought – because I blurted – in order to explain to Jimmy while I searched for more details. Jimmy hadn’t learned – like I did in 2016 – that “I say ye…” is Alan-speak for someone is dead. And this was sudden and unexpected.
I can’t tell you when Casey became part of my life. I think it was early 2000s likely at one of Teresa Patterson’s House Pegasus Holiday parties when I was part of her writers’ group. He was also part of the conventions I was part of, and then I was really aware of him when I started working with Jimmy at Scarborough Renaissance Festival in 2006. He took over the music track of FenCon a few years back, so we’d see him at FenCon meetings. In fact, I went to the last meeting when I didn’t have to (my role has changed there) just a couple of weeks ago – and now I’m glad I did because that was the last time I saw Casey.
Casey was quick (and thorough) with the hugs. They didn’t call him Bearhugger for nothing. He was known far and wide as a “gentle giant” – for he was both a gentle, tender dude but also a towering one. He had his struggles over the last few years with employment and other things – like so many of us. And he loved Scarborough (and belly dancers or any dancers). He was fiercely loyal to the royalty of Scarborough and didn’t care for a recent change. He sang for Shannon Hopps a song of his own writing when she retired. He railed when news came down that Richard Patterson would no longer be playing King Henry. Because no matter what – he was loyal and brave (he served our country in the past) and will be terribly missed.
Then on Monday I heard word that Rita Keir, one of the strongest women I’ve ever known, finally lost the struggle with a rare lung condition that most medical professionals thought should’ve killed her decades ago. I met her in the late 1980s when I started going to McKinney Bible Church in Fort Worth. She and Chuck, her husband, worked with the college kids and the singles ministries. I knew their kids, Rich and Sharon. She was a mighty prayer warrior, a surrogate mother, a mentor, and a friend.
There would be itchy moments in my life when things wouldn’t be comfortable, and hard times that had a wash of peace. Those were the moments when I knew (or was told later) that Rita had been praying for me. She developed the prayer closet at MMBC. She’s prayed for us all – especially the missionaries. She guided so many women in their walks with the Lord.
Heaven is richer for having these two in their midst, and our earthly world is a little dimmer.