Jay Lake died recently. I know, Gentle Reader, but that is the stark reality of it. One of SF/F's beacons as gone dark. I didn't know him well, but I, like many others, have a Jay Lake story to tell. Since he was a master storyteller, I figured the best way to honor his memory is in prose.
Jay was one of those rarest of creatures among authors and in geekdom... an extrovert. I never saw anything like him: always cheerful, always bubbly, always the life of the party ~ he actually managed to gain energy through social iterations. It was, at times, quite exhausting to watch. I met him at a convention. I was merely lurking on the outskirts but I watched him be a hero, in his gregarious way, and I loved him for how he treated others.
You see, my dearest friend in the whole world had an awful day. It had gone on to be an awful evening. Her boss was outright cruel to her and the flack followed her into convention safe/fun space in such a way as to ruin her entire weekend.
This was a simple thing and no great matter in the workings of the universe. I tried to cheer her up, but I am not always good at such things and mine, I think, was not the right approach.
Then Jay swooped in. He simply gathered her into his fold. He spoiled her with words and high bright brilliant cheer and unending humor. But also paid grave attention to her troubles and bestowed genuine care on her emotional well-being. It is not often I leave a girlfriend with a male unbidden, but with Jay, it felt perfectly right.
I ran into them later that night, Jay striding about in his crazy loud Hawaiian shirt, his long hair flowing behind him, and each arm graced by a beautiful woman. My friend had a radiant smile on her face. And that, I would come to find, was typical Jay. To absorb and delight and touch and befriend and uplift a near stranger was utterly natural to him. To turn the force of his intellect and personality toward making other people happy. What an unbelievable gift.
I never got to say it but: Thank You, Jay. And, safe travels.