For Roger Reinsmith (1961-2007)
Posted on September 5, 2007
A group of friends and I suffered a loss last week. His name was Roger Reinsmith and he was only 46. To those of you in your 20s reading this, it sounds old. To those of us in our 30s, it’s not. I knew Roger socially through a number of acquaintances over the past 12 years. From what people have shared, he was somewhat tightlipped about his formative years and tended to be rather detached or unemotional when discussing his family. From what I know myself, Roger never thought twice about offering his home to host a party (with his dogs’ permission of course), attended every group function he could and supported everybody’s efforts, my book signings included. He had a somewhat dry–yet wicked–sense of humor that came out to play the better he knew you. When he was on his game, you laughed and he was on his game more often than not. Your happiness was his. He also loved funny hats and even painted, things I wasn’t aware of.
Roger’s spiritual fire burned brighter than his physical one. Health issues developed and he came close to death due to kidney failure a year or so ago. Dialysis was no longer working and it was only through the grace of a kidney donor who presented him/herself that he received an extension on life. Unfortunately, the medication necessary to stop his body from rejecting the kidney also lowered his immune system. It’s one of the dangers and those dangers became a reality a month ago.
Several of the friends stopped in to see Roger frequently–some of them even daily–while others stopped in when they could. I was able to make it with a friend the Friday before he passed, only he’d just come back from an operation and was sleeping. I left him a note: “Roger, Kim and I stopped in to tell you about our steamy love affair–including details!–but you were a little out of it and we thought we’d let you sleep. You’ll just have to read about it in the next issue of Playboy. Best, Kris & Kim”
It made him laugh, something I am sincerely grateful for, and he got enough enjoyment out of it that I was told he left it out for our other friends to see. He passed away five days later.
Finding out is always like a sucker punch to the gut. It’s unexpected and never good to hear, even worse when you have to call a friend who was closer and let him know. I’ve never done well with death, only this time…there was something different. Let me back up.
I’d had a series of nightmares that Sunday and Monday night. Things were calmer Tuesday night. Wednesday night, though, I did something I never do; I overslept. At some point, I rolled over and turned the alarm off and went back to sleep. I woke up an hour later and hurried my ass on out the door to get to work. While driving, a green light started flashing red just as I was about to go under it. Once at work, my computer refused to cooperate or allow me to open a document, e-mail or the share drive for 2 hours. Shortly after is when I found out Roger had passed. What does this have to do with anything? Read on.
I have a theory. There are spiritualists who believe that we roam around outside our body when we sleep. We go places, visit people and see things we cannot remember when we return to our bodies. Not everybody prescribes to this and that’s fine. But, for me, I think a sizeable number of us attended a celebration that night, a celebration of Roger’s life where he was the guest of honor. There was no pain, no misery and no regrets, just laughs, stories and, undoubtedly, a couple of surprises. I apparently wasn’t ready to leave when the alarm went off, so I stayed around for another hour. I might have even dared Roger to have some fun with me, which translated into the flashing lights and (maybe) the computer glitches. It would have been something he took great joy in doing.
We’re all going to miss Roger. Life is a little emptier and a little lonelier now. I don’t know how many of the others are dealing with their grief, but believing that we all had one last gathering with him helps me. It’s helping quite a bit, actually. There’s a saying that we may not always remember what someone told us, but we’ll remember how they made us feel. Roger made me laugh and he made me feel secure when I had something personal I needed to vent. I may not have been as close to him as some of the others or seen him as often, but I’m going to feel his absence along with them.
And, if all goes well, we’ll have some new stories to tell the next time we see him. Until then, I know he’s looking in on us from time to time and getting a head start sifting through the afterlife dating pool…wearing a funny hat to boot.
Until then, have at it, my friend. We’ll be along in due time.
Kristoffer Gair (who formerly wrote under the pseudonym Kage Alan) is the Detroit-based author of Honor Unbound, A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To My Sexual Orientation, Andy Stevenson Vs. The Lord Of The Loins, Gaylias: Operation Thunderspell, several short stories featured in anthologies (to be combined in a forthcoming book), the recently re-published novella Falling Awake, its sequel, Falling Awake II: Revenant and Falling Awake III: Requiem.