He was loved and respected by so, so many of us. A legend in our Kingdom, and many others. Many today are remembering his deeds and words, and I wish that I had a memory to share, but I didn't know him at all. In fact, I've probably had less than 10 minutes conversation with him, since moving here in 1993.
I only saw him from a distance, really, all crimson and gold, like a man on fire with passion. He transferred that passion to many new people, and through his household, enabled many, many more people to play this fun medieval game than can be counted. He welcomed many into his fold, and forged friendships stronger than the blackest iron.
So many 'normal' people look down on the SCA because we are sometimes misfits, outcasts or otherwise just 'weird' people with too many costumes and drinking problems. I suspect, not knowing him well, that he was somewhat of a misfit himself. Imperfect. Human. As are we all.
What I've seen, as a collective coping mechanism in the SCA, is to assume all of our fallen go to someplace lke Valhalla, where they can continue to fight, drink and flirt with the Valkyries for eternity. Because in Vahalla, all the wounds you take are miraculously healed every morning, so that you can go out and fight again and again and again, until the end of time. Which is what all of us in the SCA really want to do: go to that 'great big SCA event in the sky' when we're done here.
Traditionally, one must die 'in battle' to gain admittance to the Great Hall. So, here we are, the misfits, waging war against the modern world, escaping to the past. At all of our tournaments, melees and battles, death is as 'real' as a video game. Just go back to the ressurection point, and you'll be revived! Or, in the case of punitive death, you just take off your armor, grab a cold one and you're done for the day. Or if you've got more fight in you, just wait until the next battle.
We will all be felled by the axe of mortality one day. Every time it 'really' happens, we all feel the hand of Death, closer by one more day, to our own ends. It's sad when an SCAer dies at an SCA event, but sadder still when one dies in the mundane world, far from thier freinds, costumes, tents and swords. For he may arrive to Valhalla underdressed, and without weapon. I'm sure that the Dieties in residence have heard the tales of his accomplishments, and will grant him the garb and weapons fit for a hero. I imagine that many dead SCAers, gone there before him, will assist in his transfer to this new game, and they will feast, fight and frolic forever.
You see, here I am, practically an atheist, and I'm coping with the death of a man who I barely knew, by writing his 'happliy ever afterlife' as one JUST like the SCA. Many will do this tonight. And the normal people will shake thier heads and wonder how so many of us could be off our medication.
When we, in the SCA, raise our cups tonight ( or at the next event), full of mead, or beer (or stronger stuff) and hail our victorious dead, we will gloss over his imperfections and remember the best, the brightest moments, and try to cope with the death of one who is just like us. He was, and is, what every member of our strange society is: mortal, yet we raised him up on a pedestal, God-like in his accomplishments and respect. And that is where he will stay,
And to those who knew him well; may Duke Leif be waiting with a horn of mead, when you approach the Great Hall for the first time. And he will say, "Welcome, friend! I can't wait to show you around!"
Yep. Just like the SCA.