I remember the day I first met Cassie Haynes. It was at the very first Deaf Professional Happy Hour that she hosted in Austin, Texas. She stood up after she was introduced and made a speech. We chatted some after that. Cassie and I weren’t close, but I respected her as a person. She seemed down-to-earth, happy and intelligent.
She died April 4 in her sleep. She was only 25. She left behind a five-month-old daughter and a husband-to-be. They were to get married on my and my husband’s anniversary. I thought about her a lot this week, about the family that grieves for her, about her friends at Rochester Institute of Technology and about the Austin Deaf Community.
Interestingly enough, she died on the 40th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s death. It seems fitting in a way, she was a leader and a role model in the deaf community. Her funeral was on April 8. I wasn’t able to attend the funeral, but I’m sure that the church was packed with family and friends wearing the attire recommended: Hawaiian flowery shirts.
I will miss her. Even though I didn’t know her well, it will always feel like there’s something missing in the deaf community: her presence.