For all my big talk about death and dying these last couple of years -- how it's hard, but it's a part of life and you better figure out a way to accept it because it's going to happen to everyone -- for all of that and more that I've thought and said, trying to convince those around me to just try to will themselves to feel better, when in reality what I was doing by thinking and saying those things was trying to will myself to feel better -- I pretty much fell apart even before I got to the end of Wolcott's post about the death of Al Weisel, also known as Jon Swift in the blogosphere.
I knew Jon Swift the way I know most of the bloggers I "know." Which is to say, not very well. But, we connected for some reason. We traded links a few times years ago and then he became Mr. Famous Blogger and left me behind in the dust.
He would've known I was just kidding without me even saying I was just kidding.
He was the one who nominated me for the Weblog Awards year after year. The first time I discovered it was him who did that I emailed him.
"Are you nuts?"
"Well, make sure you vote for me. And remember you can vote every 24 hours. For me."
My condolences, too, to everyone who loved him. And to all who will miss this profoundly witty, generous man.
Personally, I am devastated to hear this. Al Weisel went a far out of his way to encourage my fiction writing. He was probably the first, other than my husband, to show a consistent interest in it. He promoted my little blog two years running, getting it--in all its minuscule obscurity--nominated as a finalist in the Weblog Awards. He once emailed me from Bolivia where he was reviewing movies to compliment me on a portion of my novel. Nobody has ever extended that much to my writing...
He was kind and generous to lots of bloggers. And he was definitely profoundly witty. So witty in fact that I would email him telling him how hilarious it was that so many conservatives were taking him seriously.
I met Al a couple of years ago at a newcritics get-together in New York City where I snapped a couple of pictures of him.
"You can't post those!"
"You better not!"
At the end of the night, I was standing out front with the last of the stragglers and he was bouncing up and down, with his hands in his pockets, telling one story after another. And I stood there and thought, I'm starving, I'm freezing and my feet are killing me! I'm gonna post those pictures if we don't leave right now! Let's go!
I wish I would have said it out loud.
Earlier in the night, I did tell him how much I loved the post he wrote that year for Mother's Day.
"Such a great headline! My Mother is a Terrible Person." And then I lolol'd in real life.
That post made me think about his mother, wondering if she got a huge kick out of him. And all the posts tonight have me thinking of her again. My heart breaks for her.
Blogging is a very strange activity. And it's a wonderfully strange community. The people I've gotten to know through blogging mean the world to me. And if you are one of those wonderfully strange people I've connected with, please be careful out there. I've figured out that I have nothing figured out except that it's pretty hard to will yourself to feel better after such a devastating blow, no matter what anyone says.
Rest in peace, Jon Swift.
Via skippy the bush kangaroo, Sadly No!, in memory of Al, has opened up a thread where everyone can drop a link to their favorite "smaller" blogger. Great idea!