It has taken me a bit of time to get these words down. Mostly, because I am not in the habit of summing up a man’s life in a few paragraphs, and it seemed an affront to Casey’s memory to try it. I feel like I owe him more. I feel like life owed him more, but at my age, I understand that is an unrealistic expectation. I think it is important to provide the historical context in which I have known Casmere “Casey” Lesczcyk. Casey and I grew up together in Southwest Detroit. He was about two – three years ahead of me in school, so even though we attended school together, I didn’t see him very often. I dated his best friend Jason in middle and high school. Jason lived directly across the street from Casey on Gartner in Detroit. They also had a buddy named Eric that lived a few houses down the street. Eric is also a few years older than us. Whether I saw Eric and Casey at school made no difference, because I came into contact with them when I visited Jason’s house after school. At first, I truly thought Jason’s buddies were assholes. Lol! They teased me all the time, gave Jason crap for having a girlfriend, and they always had something silly to say to me in school. They were a bit intimidating, so I did my best to avoid them. 

However, as time passed and Jason and I continued dating, I got to know the guys better. I spent more time with Casey because he was at Jason’s a lot. He was always well dressed, always had the nicest kicks, and he usually smelled good. It became obvious to me he was spoiled rotten, as he was an only child. Jason moved on to the block when he was five, so Jason and Casey became pretty close friends over the years. Casey was always willing to share and he was very outgoing, even as a youngster. Casey had the ability to make everyone laugh! He was always cracking jokes and clowning around. There were occasions when I was sad or upset about something, and that guy would go out of his way to cheer me up. I have never known anyone that was as upbeat and positive as Casey was. As we got older, he became more of a fixture, because we were now throwing parties, going out-on-the-town, and/or spending lots of time hanging out as young adults. Casey was fun! He was always up for a road trip or a party or just hanging out together shooting the shit with some cold ones after work. He was the life of the party, but he had a serious side too. He was an amazing listener, never judgmental, and always had something positive to add. He didn’t like seeing his friends hurt and was always willing to help, somehow. 

He was pretty much raised by his mom Mary and his grandma Elvy, and although they gave him a lot of shit (which he likely earned) they were wonderful and kind-hearted to Jason and I. When we had our first son Julian, Mary gave him his first haircut. She was so gentle and sweet with him, and she even put his hair in a bag for us to keep. I have a beautiful angel that Mary gave me for the top of our Christmas tree. Casey’s family treated us like we were a part of his, and I will never forget any of them. We also valued our friendship with Casey, like he was family. Jason and I began having children shortly after we were married. We were a young family on an even younger budget. We didn’t go out often, we didn’t have a lot of money, and we didn’t participate in a lot of activities or parties, because we chose to prioritize our home and family. Casey understood this, and never made us feel inferior because we didn’t live the single, party life anymore. He knew our family meant the world to both of us, and he respected our priority. He was family, as he was a wonderful human being to our children, and it wasn’t long before the boys were asking about “uncle Casey” regularly. He helped around the house. When he was over he was always taking the garbage out, offering to help me cook, or asking Jason what needed to be painted next? He loved painting and I loved that he loved painting! Lol! There were some trade opportunities made with food, as he was a fan of my cooking. Casey was also the type of guy that made sure I knew that he was my friend too. He never treated me like I was just “Jay’s wife” he respected me as a person. He loved me, and I knew it. I loved him too! He wasn’t always easy to love for everyone, but he had a good heart. I now look back and realize that he didn’t love himself. He was abusive to himself in some cases. Those are the parts of him I wish I could have spoken to more successfully. I tried to talk to him about making qualified changes in his life, and he was always receptive, but not as consistent. 

Part of the reason why it has taken me so long to get these words on paper is because Casey is a relic from a part of my life I continue to grieve even today. Sometimes, when I speak about my early life, my late husband, and my experience as a young mother, I feel like I am speaking about a completely different woman. I continue to struggle with this dichotomy as though it has been prescribed to me, when in fact it’s how I have viewed myself up until this point. I have placed these demands on myself because I previously believed that in order to hang on to who I am as a person, I have to identify with who I was before Jason passed away. I was foolish or maybe just inexperienced, because I made demands of myself that most others could not meet. No one can completely detach from their former self, and they shouldn’t, because it is this part of yourself that has made what you have accomplished now, possible. I think the key is to learn what didn’t work for me then, and recalibrate my thinking to adjust to now. I am still growing and learning to allow myself to be a whole person with broken parts from my past, imperfect chunks of now, and pieces that are being formed for my future. It takes time, patience, and grace to allow this metamorphosis to take place, but it has taken me half a lifetime to understand this. I am still in the stages where I can take the good and healthy and joyful parts of my past life, and fuse it with the new one I am building today. I have grieved and hurt and felt guilty for this for many years now, but it was natural to grieve those parts of me that do not have a place in my future. I do not mean to make my testimony on Casey’s life about me, but he was a large part of my past self and losing him as my friend has me grieving that time all over again. This is the impact of Casmere Lesczcyk’s life on mine. His presence was large and lovely and precious to me. The world will never know the guy that I feel embodies everything a friend is and can be, but I know. I know because you were a part of my life, Face. 

May the Lord always keep you close my friend!