I was just was cruising through my archives, and thought this one worthy of re-visiting.
I'm a fan of Spider Robinson. He's an un-repentant hippy, excellent science fiction author, and all around neat character. I've read his works for over 30 years. If you are interested, read "Time Travellers Strictly Cash", but be advised- he's an addictive drug,even if you disagree with his views. I learned (about two years ago) of the death of his beloved wife and co-author, Jeanne's death to cancer. I was sad for him, but I could do nothing. She died as I was just getting in to the internet. In September, while hunting for new Spider books coming out, I stumbled upon his newsletter, and read the sad/grat news of their daughter, Terri. It was sad that she was in a fierce battle of her own against cancer, and cancer had been kicking on her for several years. But it was great, because she was testing clear of cancer for 6 consecutive months. So I wrote him the following letter:
Spider- I first read TTSC as a young man. I have devoured everything you have written since. I even have a first US printing of Antinomy. Politically, we are probably in agreement 40% of the time (pretty good, if you know me!). But I have taken one theme you have expressed to heart. And even now, probably 30 years after I first read one of your books, it still resounds with me. Shared pain is halved, shared joy is doubled. I know the wording isn't exact, but it is how I say it all the time.My heart was crushed to hear of your loss. I couldn't figure out how to share your pain and make it less for you. But now, being more involved in the internet, I have used your line to help others, and maybe, now, I can do so for you. I wanted you to just know that you help others all the time, without even knowing it. Feeling, as I do, that I know a bit of your heart, I think this might help you some. I doubt you will ever be free of the pain. I know I couldn't if Annette, my wife, were to die. But perhaps, just knowing that even now, two years later, People you never met have been helped by you, and are standing ready to take a bit of your pain if you want to share it. Oh, and having just tonight red of your daughter's battle, I hope your joy is doubled, as well. Because you just shared it with me. It helps. My Mother in law, who lives with us, is today 1 year out of chemo, after losing both breasts. I hope your daughter keeps kicking cancer's ass.
(Glass smashes into burn pit in back yard)
A Toast to Terri- May you continue to kick Cancer's ass. And perhaps, even move on to his nuts.
One of your fans,Neale Osborn
I have several big name authors I communicate with, and I decided to send this off, though I really didn't expect an answer because the website said that ALL letters would be screened and passed on. I figured that meant oval-filed, probably to save him further pain and suffering. It had been a bad time or him, after all. Today, I got a response. Here it is.
I just encountered your splendid email in my Junk Mail folder. No idea why it should have ended up there! I’m glad I checked before deleting the folder’s contents unread.
I greatly appreciate your words of kindness. I’m discovering that grieving is much like losing a leg. For the longest time it’s the last thing you think about before falling asleep, the first thing you think of on awakening, and you think of it about once a minute all day long. Then one day, you notice that you’re just another one-legged asshole, trying to hop through his busy day. It just somehow becomes The New Normal.
But you’re right: there’s nothing like receiving a miracle relative to another loved one to improve one’s spirits. I’m so relieved on Terri’s account, I can finally take a deep breath again.
Thanks again for writing. Jeanne’s death brought in literally 6,000+ emails sharing my pain.....and every single damn one of them helped. A lot. I continue to be stunned at how much kindness there is in what I always thought of as a cynical world.
I decided that I need to pass this on to remind us all that there are real human beings on the other end of this thing we call the internet. No matter how much I may disagree with you, if you are in pain and need a shoulder to cry on, or someone to rage to, or just someone who will listen, I'm here. No matter who you are, or what you and I argue about, you're still a human. And I won't forget that.