Playboy model Cassandra Lynn's died so youngBaltimore Post-Examiner

Playboys’ Miss December meets Miss February

From @TheGodLight   “Words that do not come from the heart, fall on deaf ears, for people will not listen unless you touch them deeply inside.”

When I first read this quote, I instantly thought this is what I want to accomplish with this column. I want people to think of Cassandra Lynn as a person, not just the pretty face in a photo next to the articles about her death. People were so quick to judge her, based entirely on a fatal mistake she made one night.

Cassandra and her daughter Alexis (Photo provided by Christine Smith)

Cassandra and her daughter Alexis
(Photo provided by Christine Smith)

Even though I’ve been thinking of her daily, It’s been hard to accept I’d be writing about Cassandra in the past tense. She was so happy and full of life, I’m not sure if I can help people who have never met her see how truly special she was, but I’m going to do my best.

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I first met this beautiful woman at the pool of the Playboy Mansion; we were shooting for our issues at the same time and were instant friends. I was Miss December 2005 and she was Miss February 2006. Something about her drew her to me: she was a tiny little thing, I loved her big blue eyes that seemed like you could see directly into her soul. She reminded me of a wounded bird you wanted to take care of.

She loved the company of others and never wanted to be alone. When you were with her she was always right by your side, intently listening to what you had to say and grateful for your company.

We carpooled to every Mansion event and roomed together at out of town events. Cassandra was so sweet; she knew I had a painful shoulder at the time so she always insisted on driving the 1-3 hours each way in L.A. traffic. That was just the type of person she was, she would do anything she could for anyone and only wanted to be loved in return.

Cassandra was so much fun to work with and so excited at events. She really enjoyed meeting her fans. Cassandra would always get up from the dinner table to take a photo if someone asked, and even if we were in a rush to get to an autograph signing she never minded taking the time to stop for a photo, even if it made us late! 🙂

We’d stay up talking until the sun came up, a lot of the time we were speaking about her current boyfriend at the time. It was hard for her to find someone as genuine as she was; she really wore her heart on her sleeve.

Cassandra with Gary Hensley, the man she married in February 2009. (Photo provided by Christine Smith)

Cassandra with Gary Hensley, the man she married in February 2009.
(Photo provided by Christine Smith)

She married young and was blessed with her daughter Alexis from that marriage. She was so proud of and loved her daughter so much! Cassandra was very excited for me to meet her for the first time when we picked her up from school. I was really impressed by what a confidant, smart and beautiful girl she was at such a young age.

On February 7th, 2009 she married the love of her life, Gary Hensley, and they have a six-year old son Devin.

With the news of her wedding, her friends were so happy she finally found someone to spend her life with who was as caring as she was. Gary is a former teacher. He also developed a software program to help prevent kids from dropping out of school. Cassandra couldn’t have found a more perfect match or wonderful person with whom to spend her life!

Everyone who loved her will always remember her innocent child-like need for attention and love. Her nickname was “Butterfly.” She trusted and cared about everyone she met so quickly, it was one of her best qualities and hardest for her at the same time. I never heard her speak badly about anyone; she loved all her Playmate sisters and was really looking forward to being able to spend time with them at Playboy’s 60th Anniversary.

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We were shocked, heartbroken and in disbelief at the news of her death that morning. It was really hard to believe what we were reading. The alleged facts may be what they seem, but the complete assentation of her as a human being in comments online were disgusting and made me ponder; what role does social media have in our society?

For me it is a vehicle for friends and family to share special moments in life when geography and other obstacles don’t allow them to be together. Social media is a Godsend for people like our wonderful troops who are bravely serving our country overseas, who now can Skype with their families and follow their lives on Facebook and other media sites.

Gary, Cassandra and Alexis (Photo provided by Christine Smith)

Gary, Cassandra and Alexis
(Photo provided by Christine Smith)

But more and more when we see tragedies like what happened to Cassandra or Philip Seymour Hoffman, it’s used as a vehicle to spread hate and anger. I am curious how a person can so strongly pass judgment on someone else they have never met and when tragedy strikes use that as an opportunity to rage against them.

I question if the person who feels the need to write such terrible things is really just lashing out from anger about their own lives. It’s so easy to anonymously trash people whom you might feel have had more opportunities than you did.

To take two seconds to trash them online, without thinking or caring about what their families reading it might think. Then feel better about your own life for a second and go on to the newest gossip. Today’s social media doesn’t allow us the time to sit back and think before we “speak”.

I am not condoning the behavior that puts a person at such risk: Cassandra made a poor choice, Phillip Seymour Hoffman made a poor choice, Paul Walker made a poor choice, and they all had tragic unnecessary endings, but does that give us a license to pile venom on them?

Every person reading this, myself included, have made poor choices before: maybe we drove too fast, or we had too many drinks, or just took unnecessary risks, but we’re all lucky enough that the outcome wasn’t tragic.

We need to realize we are all human, we are no different than Cassandra, Phillip, or Paul and if and when tragedy strikes a person, I hope that we can take a minute to see them as they really were as a full person. Not just Playmate who overdosed, an actor who overdosed, or an actor that was driving recklessly. But see them as someone’s mother, wife, daughter, father, and son.

And maybe in that minute take a breath, and reflect on how our callous comments affect society and mostly our young people, who read about tragic situations and instead of feeling sympathy for the people who lost their lives, jump to insult and judge them.

Cass-Vid CapWe need to think about the decisions we make and how our actions and words we post online, left there to be read forever, will affect others. Put yourself in the shoes of the families who have lost loved ones and how the comments would affect you when you were mourning. Would that hurtful comment really be worth writing?

Before writing this I spoke with Cassandra’s husband. He said he would be honored for me to help people see Cassandra for who she really was. I hope people can take the time to view her Facebook page, to get a feel for what a beautiful person we lost that day. It would be a shame for such a caring person to only be remembered for her final day on Earth. I’m lucky to have had her for a friend and grateful to be given the opportunity to speak about her.


About the author

Christine Smith

Christine Smith was born in San Dimas California and lived in a few other states but considers Cali the best. She loves biking and rollerblading up the coast and supporting the local beach bars. Her heart has always been with rescuing animals rescue groups gave up on for being too vicious or sick, She'd rehabilitate them and find them homes. She's rescued 114 and counting! After visiting Playboy studios with a friend she was named Playboy’s Miss December 2005. Christine enjoyed traveling all over the US, hosting events and doing autograph signings. She won a Celebrity of the Year award in London for radio interviews. Had fun being in TV shows and movies, Bad Teacher is her favorite; Christine considers working with Cameron Diaz was an honor! She felt very blessed to have the title of Playmate; it allowed her to help countless charities by “using her name.” She received an award from the Veterans Administration for her volunteer work and has been able to help many charities helping the wonderful people who serve our country and many animal rescue groups. Her favorite part of being a Playmate has been meeting her fans, and she’d try to make each person feel special and give them an experience to remember. She is very excited to now be a part of The Baltimore Post-Examiner and be able share her experiences and speak with all the readers! Contact the author.
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