First Treatment
The Trouble with Grandma

Too Many, Too Soon

This has been a week of melancholy shocks. I'd like to tell you about three very different friends of mine who have checked out of Hotel Earth.


I found out over the weekend that an old childhood friend died unexpectedly. Janet and her two sisters lived across the street and up two houses. Janet was a year older than I, and her younger sister was exactly my age. We all played together along with a bunch of other neighborhood kids, riding bikes on the side street and all over the graveyard, having sleepovers, and roaming through the woods.

Janet and I reconnected on Facebook a few months ago, brought together by a page dedicated to our old neighborhood. We had a long text conversation and settled into Facebook friendship. I wished her Happy Birthday this past weekend, only to see that her sister had posted that she had died in December of an abdominal infection.

Her sister then sent me her email address and I sent her a note. She replied and filled me in on Janet's life. I'll not get into it here, but suffice to say that she had found a measure of happiness after a tough time.

Rest in peace, my friend.


On Sunday I got the sad news that my internet friend Paula - aka Poolagirl, aka Poola Boola - succumbed to an aggressive form of lymphoma. I'm so glad I got to meet her, way back in 2005 at San Diego JournalCon. I also loved that she posted the adventures of Heinous D. Clown and his compadres. Heinous showed up in the most unusual places!

Paula could find the humor in everything, including her lymphoma and its treatments. She posted often, all during her chemo sessions, her therapy, and her surgeries. But more than that, she wrote to me to encourage me through my own Lymphoma Adventure. Here's a little piece of what she wrote to me:

The first day the chaplain come into the infusion center and sat herself down in front of me, she asked a big metaphysical question, "Why are you here?" I know she wanted to talk about cancer but I said, "to learn and to teach." She smiled and said we had the big stuff covered and moved on to potato salad recipes.

You know what? If Paula can deal with cancer like that, so can I. 

Rest in peace, my friend.


Just last night I got word that a friend and colleague from my first software company also died of cancer. He had it as a child, and it came back with a vengeance. Chris was a smart, funny, talented Brit. The first time I sat him at work, he was standing by the reception desk. It was his first day. He had on a big slouch hat, a long multicolored scarf, and a big duster. He had bright red hair. I took one look and thought, "Holy crap! Doctor Who!" He was an APL programmer who helped develop some of the best-selling software at the company.

We got along great. He had a sly sense of humor - he and his wife had a pet boa constrictor. There was sign on its habitat: "Don't be scared of the snake. He's 'armless!" I remember when he came into a status meeting and I said, "Chris! I saw the best new sci-fi comedy last night!" And he immediately said, "Red Dwarf!!" And what a great guitarist! He and several other folks formed a company band, the Semantix. It was a terrific group! They played mostly classic rock, including - I think as a favor to me - Little Feat's Dixie Chicken.

Rest in peace, my friend.