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The Flame That Burns Brightest

Bottle Rocket Sendoff

Have you ever met someone who was so irresistible, that everyone who has ever come into contact with him instantly, instinctively, insistently, wanted to become closer, and felt honored just to have had the experience of a conversation with him?

I know, I know, if you know me, you’re probably confused... you might think it’s unusual for me to discuss such things... maybe you think I’m not the type for “hero worship.”  And, you’d be right... I’m not.  But this isn’t that.  This is a deeper respect; an ingrained admiration for those extraordinary souls whose lives truly “touch” everyone they touch.

A very special person in my life died this weekend.  Quite suddenly, and unexpectedly.  I’ll be honest, I don’t even know what he died of.  I know he’d struggled with the pain of Fibromiyalgia for many years, but I hadn’t thought the big FM was a killer.  Though, to be fair — and I could be speaking out of turn here... so please cut me a little slack, if necessary, as I’m still stinging from this — I believe so little is yet known about this disease that I sometimes wonder if in cases where patients suffer with inexplicable ailments and debilitations, Doctors don't just use it
indiscriminately as a catch-all misdiagnosis to otherwise mean, “we know you’re hurting, but we don’t have a frickgen clue what’s wrong you, and we’re just hoping at least some of the random drugs we’re going to throw against the wall of your condition might somehow manage to stick, and possibly ease your pain, or if we get really lucky, maybe we might just even accidentally cure you... so sit tight, keep your fingers crossed, and don’t be afraid to pray to whatever gods you believe in.”

Please feel free to dismiss that thought if I should need apologize for it... I promise I'm not trying to bring any offense, but the last couple of days have been a foggy blur that has included
a lot of crying, insomnia, difficulty thinking with a clear head, and certainly a listless motivation to write (I would have loved to have written on anything but this, and yet, I just... couldn't).

I just don’t feel like such a lustrous star should be gone from this world so soon, and I want to be angry because he’s not here anymore.  I mean it.  For him, and everyone like him.  It's hard not to be incensed on behalf of anyone who has endured years of undetermined physical torment without any relief, and for those who have no one in their Russian roulette of medical caregivers willing to admit there is no hope for reprieve or succor.  I've seen that be the case with my own Mom, who is caught in the torturous talons of this ferocious affliction.  I'm trying not to imagine now that it could take her from me.

But I digress.

I wish I could say he was a very good friend, but though I liked him very much, and he always enjoyed my company, we were very companionable — even downright chummy — occasional associates, who ran in correlating social circles, and who saw each other on a limited basis... far too limited for my taste, as every encounter with him was a reminder of why there should be a lot more of his company in my life.  But oh, how we could swap stories!  And it was his favorite thing to do, as much to listen to tales of my boisterous antics as to share his own.  It had been ages since we’d done so, though, and sadly, I had to find out about his passing through FACEBOOK, of all places, a day and half after he was already gone.

That was a painful discovery, both of this dismal news, as well as of the realization that we’d drifted so far apart in recent years.  While I am most certainly
still a hardcore nerd, changing circumstances of my life in the past few have caused me to pull away somewhat from the environments where I would previously have been most likely to find him (Renaissance Festival, Convergence, The House of No Pants, etc.), so our “bantering” had become reduced primarily to social network media exchanges of late.  I’d even watched “Frozen” last weekend because the very last post he’d ever put up there (just 10 days ago now) was to say that it was “cute as hell.”  (For the record, I was going to have words with him about that, as I found it trite and lacking “oomph,” though I could surely say that it was pretty, and, for Robert, well... I imagine that alone would have been enough to deem it “fabulous!”)  Our last IM chat on FB was recent enough (just a couple weeks ago) that his last message to me (a smiley face) is still showing up an the left side of my messages window.  So, every time I open the chat feature, I still see him there, his face (his avatar is the same as is in the final image pictured here, further down), smiling at me, with a smiley face.  I don't know whether to laugh or cry, or just delete it.

We still got together on the home-front from time to time, though.  He generally included me on the guest list when he was having backyard BBQs, or holiday celebrations, and he and his husband even once hosted a special dinner in his home for just me and my last long-term housemate... now that was a rare treat.  I don't remember upon what delectable culinary masterpiece we dined that night, or what poignant philosophical quandaries we deliberated over, but I was just delighted not to have to share his attention with so many dozens of others, as was so often the case, since he generally traveled through life with a veritable entourage of devotees.  His castle boasts the kind of interior elegance that leaves gaped jaws drooping on the floor, with a keener understanding what a luscious life of brilliance its inhabitants must have to be living to surround themselves with such a kaleidoscopic cornucopia of color and ornate adornment.  And it wasn’t just there that the splash of dazzle ended... oh, no... the man practically oozed swank, dripping glitz and glamour with every swashbuckling swagger.

The country farmhouse theme of my humble abode could never hope to measure up, but I do try to make it feel like me, with just enough “shinies” to give me a smile when I need one.  He’s visited me on occasions when I’ve held gala events, but, never in this space.  I held a “Just Because” party in my home earlier this month, only a few weeks back, and he sent me a text for the new address, but didn't make it in the end.  I am all the more saddened now that he wasn't able to swing by... I would have treasured that all-too-infrequent quality time even more today, knowing that I will never have another chance in this life.

To have ever met him was to become enchanted with him. To know him, was to love him.  The world is less colorful, less vibrant, less beautiful, without such a prodigious, festive, vivacious lover of life.

I will miss your twinkling eyes, your mischievous smile, your gregarious laughter, your scathing wit.

You will never be forgotten, luv.

(Following are a few excerpted selections from among the hundreds of messages which have continuously been pouring in over his Facebook page in the last 72 hours expressing heartfelt commiseration over his passing, mourning the brilliant light that has been extinguished.)

. . . What I remember most powerfully is walking along at Fest a few years ago and being stopped by him.  He looked at my threads and exclaimed, "Oh, Honey!"  ...and then proceeded to talk about how exquisite he found the boning on the front of my overdress, but I could hardly listen, as my brain went into overdrive thinking,

"ROBERT is talking to me! THE “Robert!”  Oh. My. God!"

I had seen him, listened to him, but never actually spent any substantial time with him.  I couldn’t help myself.  I just went all fangirl and got positively giddy, then gooey, and just stood there gawking.  He must have thought I was a complete moron, but to his credit, he just kindly said his piece, and continued on his merry way.  To this day I still couldn’t tell you which bit of garb he was going on about

Queens Court
Image of a gaudy, flamboyant, obviously bawdy band of medieval merry men bedecked in the habiliment of gentry and assorted courtiers in waiting. Most are standing, however, two are seated in the center of the photo. The first, to the left of center, garbed in black leather trousers and a black leather doublet, accented by pink interior padding, sports a black leather pirate hat ornamented by pink feathers, and black leather pirate bucket top boots. He sits with one knee folded atop a bent leg, holding a glass of red wine in one hand, and seems to be gesturing innocently to himself with the other, while wearing a slight smile behind a neatly trimmed short, thin, dark goatee. The other, seated center right, a fully mustached and bearded man with rounded cheeks, dark hair and features, and a slightly rounded belly, is bearing more leisurely attire of the era, complete with royal blue velvet leggings and silk slippers, stretched out in front of him, and gingerly crossed at the ankles. He wears a white gauze poets tunic, a navy and champagne brocade vest, a Shakespearean neck collar, and a pillbox cap. While everyone in the photo is evidently happy, smiling, or laughing, the "Blue Bard of Happiness" is clearly guffawing the loudest of all, his head thrown back, eyes squinted together, white teeth shining vibrantly to the heavens, one hand gripping the arm of the chair, the other gestured upwards, as if about to slap his knee.

The caption reads:
"The Queens Court."

. . . I admired the man's creativity, love of others, effervescent nature, generosity, sense of humor and kindness.  He left way too soon and now there is a hole in our hearts as a result... the loss is almost overwhelming.

Image of the snow covered backyard of a home, surrounded by a picket fence with marbles pressed into holes bored into the wooden slats. Radiant beams of sunlight are shining through the clouds, being refracted by the crystal colors of the marbles, and creating a prism, reflecting multi-hued streams of iridescent light being cast in all directions, in every tone of the rainbow.

The caption reads:
"Never miss an opportunity to sparkle, or to let your light shine through."

(It should be noted here that this is something Robert was known for doing for others, just to help anyone who wanted it to polish up their landscape with some added flair, because he believed everyone should always come home to a lavish environment, and he felt it was important to be able to either capture or create and express the hidden inner beauty from out of the everyday, the ordinary and the mundane.)

. . . He embraced everything about life and everyone in it with a charm and energy unmatched.

A Day at the Park
[ Fig. 3: A DAY AT THE PARK ]
Two images, side by side, of the man described in Fig. 1. as "The Blue Bard of Happiness," now a little greyer, a touch rounder, and certainly less dressed.  He is wearing purple from head to toe, but for his straw hat and Japanese heeled sandals.  His "getup" consists of very short shorts, a tank top bedazzled at the straps, and opaque purple sunglasses.  Duly accessorized, his "ornaments" include a purple handkerchief in one hand, and a purple lacy parasol in the other.  He wears a chain with a golden "navy anchor" pendant laying neatly center position against the middle of the tank top.  In both images, it is a bright summer day, with sunlight shining through the leafy overhead canopy onto the green grass, a park path behind him, and picnic benches off to the side.  In the second of the two images, there is a wicker picnic basket on a picnic bench.  In both photos, the man is hamming it up for the camera, posing in an overly exaggerated fashion, like a freshly preened and primped peacock, with just the same level of joviality seen in Fig. 1., taken several years earlier.

The caption reads:
"Just an Ordinary Day at the Park... Life is such a Picnic!"

Goodbye, my dearest “Shug

[ Fig. 4: ROBERT W. SCHUG ]
Stark image of a very attractive mid-fifties man with bushy black eyebrows curved into a mischievous arch; dark, smiling eyes with deeply defined laugh lines; wire rimmed almond shaped glasses slid down on the end of a long, thin, roman nose; a fuller salt and pepper goatee, the end of a handle bar mustache twisted into upturned curls topping the corners of a Mona Lisa smile; and round cheeks turned 3/4 profile to the camera, showing one ear adorned with multiple silver hoops. He is outfitted in a sharp black dress shirt with a crimson brocade vest, and a champagne silk cravat, decorated by scarlet and royal blue flowers, and adorned with a gold tie pin, as well as a Victorian beaver pelt top hat, lined with a black and purple leather and velvet studded ribbon.

The caption reads:
"Robert W. Schug, Creative Genius, Fashionista Extraordinaire, Costuming Superstar.
Beloved by all who knew him, Friend to all who loved him.
Forever in our Hearts. 8/23/2014

May the fireworks that brightened your path radiate upon us all from the stars,
and may your luminosity light our way with glitter and gloss.

LJ Idol | Season 9 • Week 19 - Topic: KINDLING
This post has been brought to you by an association with the online writing community forum, LJ Idol.
If you have enjoyed this entry, please feel free to speak your piece, share the love, and pass it on...
                                                                                                               ...and thanks for stopping by.


( 30 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 27th, 2014 03:32 am (UTC)
Aug. 27th, 2014 10:51 pm (UTC)
(no subject) - jem0000000 - Sep. 1st, 2014 07:55 am (UTC) - Expand
Aug. 27th, 2014 04:48 am (UTC)
I like people like that - you can see their character on their face. I knew someone kind of similar, I thought immediately of him at the first sentence. He was outgoing too. And completely honest, he would share his emotions and thoughts when they came to him, praise you when you did well, correct you immediately when you did badly. I can't think of a single bad thing to say about him. I feel that this man was a similar person, right? They're rare, but treasured while they're with us.
Aug. 27th, 2014 11:09 pm (UTC)
Oh, definitely, Robert was nothing but honest. He would not hesitate to give you his opinion, whether you asked for it or not. And he could be catty, too, but in the most delightful, even endearing way. I can't think of anything bad to say about him either, except that bastard went off and died without getting anyone's permission. That was Robert, though... always doing everything on his own terms. And, yes, he was such a treasure. Thanks for getting it.
Aug. 27th, 2014 05:57 pm (UTC)
I am so, so sorry for the death of your friend, and what you are going through. I hope that writing this entry helped in some small way.
Aug. 27th, 2014 10:59 pm (UTC)
Thank you. It was helpful... it gives me meticulous detail of a writing project to be focused on, like the formatting, and the level of anal-retentive I get over the selection of every word. It helps to take the mind away, to a less dismal place, and I feel like he would love this, be flattered, and think I was being a bit silly. Most importantly, though, I'm certain he would want everyone to continue to embrace all the excitement of life, to squeeze out of it every drop. Thanks so much.
Aug. 27th, 2014 09:09 pm (UTC)
It's never easy losing a friend. It's even harder when they're someone who made a difference to everyone around them. Hugs
Aug. 27th, 2014 11:19 pm (UTC)
Agreed. It never is. And he was. Thanks.
Aug. 28th, 2014 03:35 am (UTC)
I'm so sorry for the loss of your friend, who clearly had such personality and must leave such a huge space behind. *hugs*
Aug. 28th, 2014 03:39 am (UTC)
He really did, and does. Thanks so much.
Aug. 28th, 2014 11:22 pm (UTC)
*hugs* He certainly seems to have been a force of human nature. Your moving tribute to him is beautiful. You are so obviously a deeply feeling person with your own flashing beacon of love for life.
Aug. 29th, 2014 03:34 am (UTC)
That's a good way to describe him. And thank you for the kind words.
Aug. 28th, 2014 11:49 pm (UTC)
I'm so sorry about the loss of your friend, especially one who has affected your life so deeply.
Aug. 29th, 2014 03:38 am (UTC)
Thanks. I don't know if he's really had a huge impact on my life overall, in the grand scheme of things... if he was ever going to, I think I would probably have made more of a point to see him more regularly, but, he was certainly the type to profoundly impact everyone he connected to on some level, and the deepest impact is the mournfulness at his passing. Thanks for your sweet thoughts.
Aug. 29th, 2014 02:05 am (UTC)
This is a lovely sendoff for an old friend. I'm sad that I never met him.
Aug. 29th, 2014 03:41 am (UTC)
Thank you. I'm not sure he ever spent too much time in Kentucky, but, he was a the sort who was a benefit for anyone from anywhere to come in contact with and get to know, and anyone who did would have been better off for it, so it's a reasonable lament to have, and I can appreciate you sharing the thought.
Aug. 29th, 2014 05:39 am (UTC)
He sure seemed to be a gem of a person...*hugs* sorry to hear about it..and it's difficult I know..A wonderful tribute..really well written...nice knowing him through you..and I hope to be that kind of person in my life actually...:) Take care.
Aug. 29th, 2014 11:49 pm (UTC)
He really was. I'm glad you could see that here. And thank you. You seem very sweet to me... I imagine others see that in you too. Thanks for being so.
(no subject) - eternal_ot - Aug. 30th, 2014 12:45 pm (UTC) - Expand
Aug. 30th, 2014 12:24 am (UTC)
I wish I would have been able to meet him, He sounds like a wonderful person. I know he must be to have impacted you so greatly.
Aug. 30th, 2014 02:48 am (UTC)
I really wish you'd met him, too. You would have liked him, and he would have enjoyed talking history with you. You probably almost have more in common with what he was about than I did. He was much smarter than me, in a way you totally could have related to, and would have completely eaten up.

Edited at 2014-08-30 02:49 am (UTC)
Aug. 30th, 2014 12:29 am (UTC)
A great tribute. Hugs and love to you. :)
Aug. 30th, 2014 02:46 am (UTC)
Thank you. And thanks.
Aug. 31st, 2014 08:43 pm (UTC)
I'm sorry for your loss - he seemed like quite a lovely and colorful character.
Sep. 18th, 2014 01:08 am (UTC)
Yes, he was... and, he likely would have liked you, it seems... purple was his favorite color.
Sep. 1st, 2014 09:29 am (UTC)
You're the second person I've been acquainted with to speak about Robert Schug. I'm saddened to hear that such a wonderful person is gone from this realm, but I hope to read more about him. He was obviously a remarkable person.
Sep. 18th, 2014 01:32 am (UTC)
Wow... it's nice to know that he has a far reaching influence. Of course, I've no idea what part of the world you in, so, maybe I'm only imagining it's a long distance... though I could totally see his presence touching lives wherever his feet took him. Thanks for the kind sentiments. You're right, he was truly remarkable.
Sep. 1st, 2014 08:47 pm (UTC)
A wonderful remembrance of a clearly fascinating fellow. It seems anyone that had the opportunity to cross his path was probably lucky to have done so.
Sep. 18th, 2014 01:34 am (UTC)
I'd have to wholeheartedly agree with that sentiment, and thank you so kindly for noting it.
( 30 comments — Leave a comment )


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