A friend of mine just died today. She was recently diagnosed with a Glioblastoma – a type of aggressive brain cancer. I now have three friends and acquaintances who have passed from this particular form of cancer in recent memory, when I can’t recall even having heard of it before the first one was diagnosed. It’s also the type of cancer that claimed former US Senator John McCain, whom I rarely agreed with but whose rhetoric I respected, though his actions and his voting record didn’t always match his words.
I spent my late teens and early twenties as part of the local science fiction group, SF3, in Madison, Wisconsin. Most of my friends there are significantly older than I – they having mostly come together in the 1970s to form WisCon and the sci-fi club that ran/supported it. I joined up in the late 1980s, so they had all been part of the same social group for over a decade by then.
Through them, I learned about conventions, about other sci-fi groups around the world, and about fannish culture, which has been my life by choice for the last few decades. I’ve spent a lot of time (and money) going to conventions since then, even traveling overseas for a couple. It was also through traveling to conventions that I met the three friends I mentioned who’ve recently passed. All three most recently lived in the Pacific Northwest of the United States. We only really spent any time together at conventions, but despite not being very close to any of them, I miss the fact that they are no longer there, to converse with, to have lunch or dinner with, or to spend time reminiscing and drinking with.
I also in the last month heard of the death of a former colleague. He and I shared several passions: games, baseball, and history among them. Despite this we weren’t close, and when he moved to the San Francisco Bay Area to regroup after being laid off, I somewhat lost track of him. He and I were of similar age.
I mused the other day to a friend whom I hadn’t seen in a while that the most common social event in our lives these days was funerals. None of us know how much time we have on this earth. Cherish those you care about, and who care about you, and let them know how much they mean to you.
Here’s to absent friends: Andi Shechter. Kate Yule. Randy Byers. Bill Jaffe.