Friday, August 7, 2015

Keith N Fisher

People say that when you start to feel too gosh-darned important that you should stick your finger in a bucket of water and then pull it out to see that no one leaves a hole. The water just fills up--so they say.  I don't believe that's true--not for a minute. Each of us leaves a void in the world when we go. Today a good man died. He was my friend although I didn't know him really well. He was my friend, even though we'd only had a few face to face conversations. We should have met a long time ago, but we didn't. He was only a year younger than me and attended the same high school. I knew who he was--sort of. I'd seen his face at writing conferences, but we didn't become friends until a conference at UVU some years back. That was the year I had really struggled with depression and social anxiety and writer's block, and low self-esteem and fear and ...  on and on. I wasn't sure I'd ever get another book published. It scared me to death to go to conferences and I avoided talking to authors, but in a small surge of confidence, I registered for a conference when I found out that I could attend with my good friend Josi Kilpack. It was there Keith introduced himself and told me how much he loved my writing, especially False Pretenses--my second book. This was before the following three books came out. We talked in the hall about writing, and if I recall it was then I found out that he was a good cook and participated in Dutch Oven cook-offs. From that day forward, I counted Keith as a friend. 

 He was my friend because he showed me over and over that he cared--about me, what I said, what I wrote, and what I thought. Through Facebook, we found out we had a lot of similar beliefs. He was my friend because he made me smile, nearly every week if not every day over the last few years. He was the kind of man, I wish I had known better, and met earlier, and spent more time with, and learned more from. He seemed to know how to say just the right thing when I'd post something that was controversial in our conservative circles, or when I needed to be encouraged or cheered. Sometimes, I wrote something that was a really hard truth for me, and then I'd want to delete it--but then I'd wait and often within the hour Keith would comment positively. 

The last time I saw Keith was at the Storymakers Conference in Provo the middle of May--just a couple of months ago. When I saw him and called his name, he immediately got up from his chair to greet me and give me a great big Keith hug. I said, something like thanks for reading my Facebook posts and liking them. It means a lot to me. And he said something like, no, thanks to you for writing and saying what you do. You are doing good. He encouraged me to keep at it. We talked about how hard it is to think differently than so many whom we associate with. We talked for a few more minutes. Then throughout the day, we'd pass in the hall or in a class and I'd give him a nod or a wave. And that was the last time I saw him in person. 

At the end of June, I had a meeting at my house on loving and supporting our LGBT friends and family. And Keith told me he was going to try to come. I knew he wanted to, though it was a two hour drive. I wish he had been able to because I would have loved spending that time with him, but I suspect he wasn't feeling well even then. His heart attack happened a couple of weeks later, and then there was so much more wrong. I was shocked today when he died. I wasn't ready for it. I went to his blog to read his last post. It was written on July 25th. Like much of his posts, it's poignant and touched my heart. It's fitting to end this tribute with his own words. I hope you will take the time to read it. 

Bye my friend. You were a big man, with a big heart, and a magnificent soul. You leave a big void. I hope Heaven is ready for you. Until we meet again.  

1 comment:

Kimberly Job said...

Keith mentioned you to me more than one time. You made a difference in his life too! Thank you for writing this about him. I'm not sure I know anyone with a bigger heart, and he will definitely be missed.