Kat called me to ask a favor. She had worked with me in Africa some years ago and we had become friends, despite my sending her to a remote location in Africa for several months.
“I’d like you to walk the Camino with a friend of mine.”
“Sure thing, tell me about your friend.”
Kat paused, “Our families have been close as long as I can remember, I grew up with Casey. I went to the USN Seabees and he went off to the Marine Corps. He did three combat tours, the first in Iraq and the other two in Afghanistan.”
She went silent for a moment, “He took his own life last December. I’m having a bracelet made and I was hoping you’d wear it in his memory as you walk the Camino.”
I have since had a conversation with Duane, Casey’s father, which left us both choked with emotion. Duane told me more about his son.
Casey was born July 16, 1982 in Lafayette, LA and passed away December 12, 2017. He was only 35 years old.
Early on, he had dismissed the PTSD as something to be ignored thinking it would go away. I’m sure he looked at it as weakness as many Veterans do. He did finally seek help, later. Unfortunately, the help he received either wasn’t enough, was too late to work, or it simply wasn’t the kind of help Casey needed.
Casey didn’t leave a note or explanation. He leaves behind his family, including his five year old daughter, who are understandably devastated.
So, for Casey and his family, I will walk side by side with Casey on the Camino this spring. My steps will be devoted to his memory. The Compostella I receive upon arriving in Santiago will be dedicated to him.
To Casey, a fellow soldier who could not find his peace on this Earth.