Today I got an email from this novel writing group I used to be a part of in Berkeley. Even though I left the group almost two years ago, I still get emails from the host. It was one of the first times I ever gave my gmail address out to a list serve. I'll never do it again.
But the subject line of the email was another member's online scrapbook instead of the usual "Chapters 15 and 16." Oh god, I thought to myself. She's dead. And sure enough, she is. She's dead.
I've been spared the death of anyone remotely close to me in my life. Yes, people I have known have died, but never anyone close. (Please tell me that I'm not inviting death into my life by writing this.) So, whenever I hear that someone I know has died, I sit there and think about that person for a long time, and I get a little sad that I didn't know them that well, because that means I never will get to know them better, and they probably didn't know how much I liked them.
You can't feel sorry for people who have died--well, at least, I don't--because they're dead. I do feel sorry for the people who survive them, and I know that whoever lost Holly is probably in a really bad way. She was one of those people who was a very comforting presence. I imagine that she was very important to a lot of people, because she had the kind of personality that attracted people with problems. I remember smoking cigarettes with her before, after, or sometimes during our writers' workshops, and being surprised at her honesty. She was at least twice my age and she seemed very fragile and tough. When we took our breaks together a part of me wanted to tell her all that I was going through with my then-boyfriend and I didn't really know why, because I hardly knew her. It took a few breaks together for me to realize that many people probably knew this about her already, that she was probably the person everyone went to with problems because she was so deeply empathetic.
So, my heart goes out to whoever loved and lost this very special woman. I remember her well after knowing her such a short time.