Jay Lake passed this morning. When I think about him, I remember him as strong, kind, and welcoming. And those seem like mild words, but Jay was the epitome of all three, unlike anyone I’ve ever met.
Jay wouldn’t say he was strong against his cancer, he was the first to say he was angry and frightened. But he was strong in the way that he didn’t hide it, he didn’t deny it, and he was open about what it did to him. He blogged about his cancer, he revealed much of the mystery behind it, and the treatments, and he was totally honest. He never put hope into miracles; he had hope, of course, but when the science told him he was terminal, he accepted it and put his affairs in order making sure his daughter was taken care of. (I had a relative who denied cancer for months and the family scrambled to get things done when the end was obvious. This was difficult.) He even threw his own wake to say good bye to friends last summer.
He also fiercely protected his daughter’s privacy, wanting her life online to be hers, not an extension of him. He blogged about his politics and his atheism with equal strength, never getting shouty and personal, but always presenting his arguments clearly.
Jay was always kind to me, he gave me an interview at my first WorldCon, and always said hello. He always welcomed people into SFF; I heard twice today on Twitter that new(ish) writers said they had met Jay, and he had remembered them the next time they met, even though they didn’t expect him to. Writers meet a lot of people at cons, after all, but Jay would likely remember you.
The day after the Hugo awards last year, he made a point to talk to me and tell me that he was in charge of caring for/keeping track of the Campbell tiara. He told me that, in addition to me winning the award, he was passing that responsibility to me, since he thought I was passionate enough about the award to make sure the tiara tradition continued. I nearly cried right there.
One of the biggest thrills of my life was receiving the Campbell Award from Jay and his daughter, and then getting a picture with them afterward. Jay is well loved and will be missed.