There and Back Again

Deb and I were offered a chance to get away from it all and wisely we took it.

From Thursday through Sunday we were away from home, resting, relaxing, shopping, sightseeing, hiking, eating, napping and so on. It was very nice to not fuss over work or household chores. We weren’t expected to put everything behind us but the trip allowed us the time to focus on each other and allowed us to miss Robbie without distraction.

We finished our trip last night, got home and as usual, unpacked the car and get everything put away before dealing with phone messages and mail.

And that’s when reality hit. In short order, we discovered we lost four more people – two members of the extended family we barely knew; an old pal, and Mikayla.

Mikayla was a redheaded nine year old spitfire that acted well beyond her years. She and Robbie would often do activities together during playground and when both were up to it, sit in the common area playing cards to all hours. When they saw each other at clinic, the games continued, with Kate joining in whenever she was around. She left for Boston over the summer, to have her bone marrow transplant and from all reports things were going well. Yale-New Haven’s child life staff kept in touch and sent her care packages including a stuff animal she named Robbie so she’d never forget him.

As she prepared for discharge last week, she came down with a fungal lung infection which took her rapidly. She was gone on Friday, a tragic loss.

The fourth and final passing was that of Brian Thomsen. I knew Brian when he was an editor at Warner Books up on the ninth floor while DC was on the 6th floor of 666 Fifth Avenue. We struck up a friendship and kept in touch as he moved on to TSR and later returned to New York and worked as a freelance writer and editor. For years, he would come to DC on Wednesdays and bring lunch, camping out in Julie Schwartz’s office to be regaled with stories. He introduced Julie to the joys of sushi which became a dietary staple until Julie left us.

It was Brian who did what others could not, which was getting Julie’s stories into print as co-author of Julie’s biography. Not every story got into print but more than enough to immortalized Julie’s contributions to SF.

Brian always looked after me, seeing to it I had something to do between jobs. I wrote fiction and non-fiction for him, the last being essays for next May’s Haunting Museums. He was overweight and suffered from gout but remained cheerful and caring – a real mensch. The heart attack Saturday night was quick and sudden and now he’s gone.

The rest and relaxation rapidly dissipated as we were hit with the boom, boom, boom, boom of their passing and the return to reality was harsh.

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