Cruel Winter Blues

One of my best friends died. I didn’t lose him, he didn’t pass on or away, he didn’t cash in or check out, or depart, he died. He was a man of short stature, large appetites, and indomitable spirit, and life killed him as it will murder us all in due time.

It went like this: he felt ill but he didn’t have time to be sick, so he put off going to a clinic until he could no longer breathe. Within a month he was dead,  destroyed by a hyper-aggressive illness that pitted his immune system against his organs and ravaged them faster than his body could fight back. Gone. He loved well, he lived honorably, and he died.

I know the traditional response to loss is to go all carpe diem on shit and art like there’s no tomorrow because damn, there might not be one and there are so many important stories left, but…

I miss him. He was a staunch friend, a better human and a relentless supporter. I couldn’t go back to the monster Marines I wrote for him until I coukd type without leaking saltwater all over my keyboard. And to work on anything else with that story unfinished felt like betrayal.

So I took a few days sitting low and quiet, and gave grief time to sift off life’s main path and settle in the corners where it will stay forever. There was fiction to gorge on, blankets to wrap up in, and good times to remember.


  • Closer to the Chest Mercedes Lackey.  Valdemar is reliably likable. I needed that.
  • Kingfisher Patricia McKillip. Collect a double-handful of Arthurian-related tales from all over the map, put them in a blender and puree. Pour into a contemporary magical-realism setting. Garnish with delightful trope subversions. Kick back and enjoy.  Snarky side note: I will wave this book under the noses of everyone who starts reciting “Good authors never <insert style quirk here>”  It’s deep, lovely, and dark, but if you’re a stickler for active, stripped down adverb-less prose and have zero tolerance for narrator references, steer clear. It worked for me, and someone must like her stuff, multiple award winner that she is.

Movies & TV:

  • Zero Theorem & Time Bandits I needed a Terry Gilliam evening
  • Hot Fuzz 
  • SHERLOCK!!! Episode 2 was everything I could wish.
  • Harry Potter & the Sorcerer’s Stone, Chamber of Secrets & Askaban. My goodness they were all so young…


Oh, the Berli tales I could tell. There was the time when he low-crawled the length of a driveway and up concrete steps to prove a point, that day he spent a two-mile hike rhapsodizing about the first cigarette he would smoke at the end and his lighter wouldn’t work when we got there, the visit when he showed up on day three of a week’s leave and had a full beard already, the nights he would call at 1AM to chat about some book he was reading because he knew I’d be awake…

Some adventures will find their way into books now. It’s the least I can do. Back to the words I go.

“Our dead are never dead to us, until we have forgotten them.” -George Eliot


Note on death euphemisms. Berli had little patience for them, even less than I do. But I know he’d be okay with someone saying he was pushing up daisies, or better, resting after a long squawk.