My daughter is just now getting more mature (she's a young adult). She hasn't known or known of many of my writing friends, nor been much aware of anything I've written. Like millions of other Millennials, she's back at home with me and my husband and staying in my former office/library. She also doesn't know much about my family background though she knows my mother died when I was a baby and was the artist who redesigned Mr. Magoo and other well-known 50s animated characters.
So I also didn't know much about my mom and only learned things over time through many coincidences.
I went into my former office yesterday and said to my daughter, "see up on that shelf on the bookcase? Those are books by people who are my friends. People I care very much about. Some of them are very important, valuable books." I told her if something happened to me, she didn't have to keep the books but she should distribute them responsibly.
"This beautiful one, the Moon and the Sun, is by a friend," I said. "The closest friend I have I've never physically met."
I told her about Vonda and said, "This has hit all of us very hard. We all care very much about her. She's one of the most wonderful people we've ever known."
"Honey," I said. "For me it was very hard to hear because she has the same disease that took my mother's life. She has pancreatic cancer."
A few years ago, my brother casually dropped the information to me at a family meal that my mother had been undergoing treatment for pancreatic cancer for about three years before I was born. When she became pregnant, she stopped all treatment. She died three months after I was born, and I was three months premature: in 1962.
I had no physical connection with my mother, just spiritual and emotional. She was home from the hospital only a few days with me before having to go back in. During this time she went shopping at the Farmers Market (Fairfax/La Brea) and bought a sugar Easter egg for me, which I still have. I put it in a Russian tin, one of the few things I have from my Grandma Mary (my Dad's mom). Grandma Mary lived right by Farmer's Market so I'm almost positive the two would have been there together.
I never met Vonda in person. By the time she was helping me format my books or we were corresponding about Ursula Le Guin's Nobel Prize, I was no longer attending the type of event where I would have been able to spend time with her. I know her through her words. And deeds.
What happened to Vonda is what my mother experienced. Not just pancreatic cancer, the exact type and order of events and diagnosis.
Our lives are woven in a fabric and sometimes a thread is pulled. We see how alike we all are. We see that we are all interconnected and we see that our joys and our sorrows are what it means to be alive.
Sometimes I think, "You shouldn't be here" because of what happened with my mother. But then I realize my mother would have hated my thinking that. I think of how strong she must have been and I know that Vonda is also so strong. So gentle and kind and honorable and gifted and so very strong.
All of my love, Vonda - always and forever.