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Post Confluence thoughts about Ann Cecil

I had a lovely time at Confluence this year. I've mentioned before that it's a small convention--but it's one I feel very at home in.

The first time I went to Confluence, I went because Ann Cecil asked. I met her for the first time at the Worldcon in Philadelphia; she was in charge of the 'book club' style discussions, and I'd signed up for one (for Probability Moon, by Nancy Kress). I really liked that book, but I thought it had a few weaknesses, and -- I know this will come as a surprise to you all, especially as it's an opinion about reading material -- I was blunt in my particular way about both things.

For some reason, this didn't scare Ann off, and instead she said, "I think you would be so good at my convention--would you come if I asked?"

If there's a person alive who can actually say no to Ann Cecil when she asks something like that, I'm not sure I want to meet them. She is a lovely person. She has bright eyes, always, and she talks with that quiet conviction that comes from both thought and joy. She's also scarily organized most of the time, and that always impresses me, because sadly, I'm not.

Because it's a convention, I don't see much of her; she's always busy -- most of the concom is. I catch a few words here and there. And as the concom boasts, among others, Jim and Laurie Mann, it's always reasonable, civil, and decently run.

But…I went the first time because of Ann Cecil.

And when I arrived at Confluence 2010, I found out that Ann Cecil has cancer. I hesitated to write this for all the obvious reasons -- but she wasn't hesitant to speak of it or acknowledge it, and in the end, I do want to say something, so.

I think we approach other people's tragedies from a purely selfish personal perspective. I've always, for instance, feared Alzheimers and its effects--but I've never hated it so much as I did when Terry Pratchett announced that he had a special kind of early onset Alzheimers. Why? Pratchett is someone who writes books that speak to me no matter where I am. Even in the worst of the depression, it was Pratchett I could find solace--and even laughter--in. There is no time that a Pratchett book is a closed door to me. And I wanted those books, oh, forever. Decades of Pratchett novels to come home to when everything else is in turmoil.

Do I know him? No. I've met him a few times, no more. He's not a friend. He's not family. But because of what reading and books mean to me, his work is friend, family, and refuge. And his work is going to stop, and one day in the foreseeable future, when I turn to a Pratchett novel, it won't be a new one. Selfish, yes. Painful, regardless.

Ann Cecil is like that, for me. I don't see her often. I don't know her well. I am not arrogant enough to assume that she's a friend. But -- in convention life, she's a bright spot, a happy memory, and a person who's very much herself when she's with me. I am always happy to see her. I adore her, although I've never said that to her personally. She isn't the whole of Confluence -- a lot of people volunteer and give time, money, and no doubt the usual grey hairs that come with organizing hundreds of people.

And she has cancer. I'm not the person who will go with her to the doctors -- all of them. I'm not the one who will sit in the ward and take notes about what's said and be there to listen when thoughts turn dark and harsh and the day is grey. I'm not. I know it.

Cancer has hit many members of my extended family; it's not like I don't know it. But…conventions for me are like an escape, a way of meeting people with similar interests to mine. I went to my first convention in High School (it was either Delta Draconis or Ozymandius, both in Toronto), and continued to go to one or two a year from that point on.

I liked the bubble of a convention weekend. I like Confluence because for some reason, it invokes that early feeling for me. Ann Cecil is part of that. I don't know why I hate cancer so much right now, but there you have it. I do. Of the places that real life is supposed to intrude, this isn't one.

And it's entirely selfish; it's entirely about me and how I feel. I don't pity her -- and it's so much harder for her -- I pity me. Because of what it means to my oasis years down the road; because she's a bright spot, a personal warmth, and--

And sometimes I just don't want endings. I want happily ever after. I want my room and the things I love in it to remain where they are, safe and complete, forever.


( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 27th, 2010 04:31 am (UTC)
I'm sorry to hear about this, but I appreciate your posting about Ann. I didn't know. Plan to find out more. Like you, I don't see her often and don't know her well. I've known her since the, um, 80's, though. Sigh.

Aside from this, I hope you were able to have fun at Confluence.
Jul. 27th, 2010 04:30 pm (UTC)
Aside from this, I hope you were able to have fun at Confluence.

I always have fun at Confluence, and aside from this, yes, I had fun. I'm working on a con report, but I kept coming back to this while writing it, so I did break it out because it just felt wrong where it was.
(Deleted comment)
Jul. 27th, 2010 04:12 pm (UTC)
Regarding medical expenses, I worry too, especially (but not exclusively) for folks in the U.S.
Jul. 27th, 2010 11:35 am (UTC)
Oh no!

Everything you said about Ann. She is a wonder, and I love her.

I. Fucking. Hate. Cancer. I've lost too many loved ones to it, and watched too many people suffer through it.

Thank you for this news. It's something we need to know even when we hate it.
Jul. 27th, 2010 12:17 pm (UTC)
I'm so sorry. I feel like this about Jay Lake, who I am just getting to know.
Jul. 27th, 2010 07:19 pm (UTC)
Didn't know either. And she is a bright spot at the convention. Wow.
Aug. 2nd, 2010 02:26 am (UTC)
Thank you so much for this post.
Apr. 6th, 2011 05:07 pm (UTC)
Ann is gone
Ann Cecil died Jan 11, 2011. Her obit is at http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/postgazette/obituary.aspx?n=r-ann-cecil&pid=147821938 (or http://tinyurl.com/3tedfqu). One of a kind.
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )