Fare you well ...

“Fare you well, my honey ... Fare you well, my only true one."

So sings guitarist Jerry Garcia; the opening lines to the truly inspirational "Brokedown Palace" as performed by the Grateful Dead in 1970. How true that song still rings a year to the day since we lost Casey Rae Decker, Dec. 27, 2012. Like any who loved her - be that family or friend - the memory of her passing remains etched upon our minds; the shock, the pain, the disbelief.

One year later, I find myself thinking back to a conversation I had with Scottie Decker at the Decker family's home. Scottie, a dear friend along with Bill, and Kobie, said she'd been looking desperately for a sign, any sign, of her daughter's presence. Turns out the family had recently agreed upon an engraving for the bench that sits near Casey's grave ... "Listen to the river sing sweet songs, to rock my soul."

Lyrics that happen to grace the aforementioned "Brokedown Palace" and - by happenstance? - the same lyrics that inspired my Evening Sun column of Feb. 13, 2013. Here, with prayers for those local families suffering similar losses this holiday season, are two excerpts from that column of last year, with thoughts also for Casey's many friends and her family.

... Death, in and of itself, is quite the mystery, don’t 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.

... 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 (or any loved one) is sometimes all we have to hold on to.

Now, one year later, it's my belief that we've all seen signs of Casey ... they're all around us. For some, it's a sunny day or a full moon; a certain song finding us at just the right time; a remembered memory or laugh; a smile that will never fade. For others, I think, it's just a feeling, knowing down deep that those we've lost are still there, and always will be. Either way, it's important to realize that - for those of us left behind - there can be only one decision: continue forward in as positive a manner as possible and try to best live as Casey would want us to ... happy.

Sings Garcia, "Going to plant, a weeping willow. On the bank's green edge, it will grow, grow, grow. Sing a lullaby, beside the water. Lovers come and go, the river roll, roll, roll ... Fare you well, fare you well, I love you more than words can tell. Listen to the river sing sweet songs, to rock my soul."

We who loved you, Casey, will never forget. Your memory is safe with us and your soul, now free, inspires us and sustains us. Words fail, but rest assured, we will never forget.

Brian Golden is a former staff writer and managing editor at The Evening Sun.

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