January 24th, 2015, two years ago today, was the last game session the Oak Hill Dungeons & Dragons Club shared with one of our oldest and dearest friends — Brent Smith.
We were running two campaigns at the time. In the early session Brent played a human rogue named Artis and in the late game he played a human wizard by the name of Delarius (a play on words, by combining delirious and hilarious).
On that particular evening, a Saturday, Brent’s son Kasey had come along to watch us play. It was the boy’s 12th birthday and I remember him being excited to start playing with us soon. My own son was already a part of that early session and Connor and Kasey were becoming fast friends.
It was a thrilling game, with tensions mounting as the party found their way into the ancient ruins beneath the city of Crowhaven, discovering the insidious machinations of a demonspawn wearing the face of a nobleman’s son.
Brent and I took our respective children home and returned for the ‘adult’ game. It was an amazing night, fraught with epic conflicts and a dangerous delve into the catacombs beneath the Lighthouse Stable. There were traps aplenty, orc marauders, and nasty critters from the Underdark…
After the late game, we stood outside on the sidewalk, rehashing the night’s high points, discussing each others plans for their characters in both campaigns, and the inclusion of the young ones. Brent and I also talked about my plan to renovate Connor’s bedroom and he was eager to lend a hand.
As the night came to a close, I hugged my friend and told him I loved him for the last time.
A few days later, Brent had a bad reaction to changed medication and died in his sleep. He was only 48 years old.
I feel the weight of his passing every day. Brent and I had been friends for 43 years. We all miss him terribly.
Our sons now play their own weekly D&D game, building the kind of lifelong friendship that we had shared. I think Brent would appreciate that. I know I sure do.
I see a lot of Brent in Kasey, now turned 14. It tempers the pain of his passing somewhat.
Each time the Club gathers, we feel his presence still with us. He and the characters he played are still talked about. Though Brent has sailed on to Valinor, his mark upon each and every one of us remains.