Listen to the river sing sweet songs ...

Like so many people out there, Iíve had my fair share of grief and heartbreak over the years, from the death of my fatherís parents at a young age to that of my father, himself, a little more than five years ago. Iíve lost uncles, my stepsisterís infant daughter and close friends, and no matter how much time passes there is seldom a day goes by I donít think of those who have passed on. Thatís just the way life goes, I suppose.

Death, in and of itself, is quite the mystery, donít you think? It sparks theological debates and controversy over the existence of an afterlife, or lack thereof, and can be seen as both a blessing and a curse. A blessing for those who are suffering or have lived a long, fruitful life; a curse for those who are left behind when a death comes far too early, taking from us those loved ones who had so much yet to offer, those who had so much life to live.

Such was the case on Dec. 27 when we lost our friend Casey and Ė as is always the case when death comes unexpectedly and without a care Ė we all dealt with her passing in our own way. There were (and still are) the tears, the lingering questions and the anger; the disbelief, the shock and that one-of-a-kind grief that is so slow to fade, and never truly does.

Death offers very few answers no matter how badly we might need them, and that may be the most difficult lesson to learn. The pain and hurt will never truly go away, although the love we share with those who in turn knew and loved Casey is sometimes all we have to hold on to.

Casey was, as stated, a friend to many, a sister, a daughter and a true fan of the music. And while she had her faults and her demons, as we all do to some extent, she was at heart a giving and caring person. I have many fond memories of Casey to prove this, yet one sticks out more than any other.

In the months following my fatherís death, I was ... how shall I say ... faring poorly. My health, physical, mental and emotional, was in ruins; I was eating only when I remembered it was necessary (which wasnít often); and I simply couldnít seem to get a handle on myself. It was a bad, bad path I was on and the ending wasnít going to be pretty. The worst part, I often think when looking back on that time, was the fact that I had convinced myself no one else really cared. It was a lonely, depressing time, only made worse by my own self-loathing and refusal to ask for help. And then there was Casey.

One morning, completely out of the blue, comes Casey in her big yellow Toyota, toting a cooler and looking for yours truly. Apparently word had leaked that I was in a bad way and Casey, without a second thought, immediately took action. That morning and early afternoon found me choking down a couple of chicken salad sandwiches she had made me, sharing tales of my recently departed father and Ė in the end Ė sharing my fears and doubts. Casey was a great listener ... and a great friend. I donít know if she saved my life that day, but I can tell you it was probably a lot closer than it should have been.

Which is why, following her death, I felt a responsibility to do something, anything, that might help Caseyís family Ė also close friends of mine and so many others Ė to find some closure. And while death may not have the answers we are looking for following such a loss, sometimes those answers are right there in front of us. And on Sunday afternoon, friends and family of Caseyís will gather in the Park Place lounge for a musical memorial celebrating her life. As stated, the answer was right in front of me the whole time. Casey loved her music; what better way to remember her and hopefully find (or at least provide) some semblance of peace ... even if itís only for a little while.

A close friend of Caseyís (and one who is not the religious type, if you know what I mean), one who was struggling to understand her death, recently asked me if I thought Casey would be able to hear us playing her music, the music she loved and lived by, come Sunday. I told her that, no matter oneís beliefs in regards to heaven, God, what have you, those we have lost are always there with us, always watching over, always there to offer comfort or advice. We do not see them, but they are there. We feel them as the days go passing by. We celebrate the love they shared with us every time we keep taking each step forward. We may never truly heal, but we will survive, because thatís what she would want us to do.

Will Casey hear us bouncing Ďround the room on Sunday? I happen to know that she most certainly will.

Follow me on Twitter ... @evesunbrian.

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