Thursday 4 April 2019

Amis Absents

Just over five years after Steve Tompkins' death, Miguel Martins died. Deuce Richardson has a fine tribute marking the fifth year of his absence. I still miss him. I wonder what he'd think about everything that's happened over the past five years: what would he make of the new Howard collections, the Conan games and comics, even things like current affairs in his home country and the continent. There was so much we could have talked about even before - fiction, adventure, history, art, all sorts. Maybe next life.

I stepped away from a more active involvement in Howard fandom for constitutional reasons. In retrospect, perhaps it was more than that too. We were reminiscing over Steve's passing mere weeks before we got the news of Miguel's death. The memory of Patrice & me sharing a quiet moment in memory of Miguel is one that will stay with me forever. For a while, to be part of Howard fandom felt like being in the Company of Death, waiting for the next to fall, dreading to hear about someone's ill health.

Yet the Company of Death does not care what you're doing with your life. Death visited my family in the last month: my grandfather is now the last of his generation following the passing of his two surviving siblings, mere days apart. Relatives, friends, all fled - all done. The price of having a large extended family is the dry cleaning bill for your best suit.

Yet we live, and through us, their memories live. In Taoism, there is no past or future, only the present, which is in a constant state of change. When someone dies, they don't proceed to an "afterlife," but transpose themselves to the other side of the Universe (think of the Yin & Yang). Your body has simply outlived its usefulness, & your spirit carries on in some other form which we mortals cannot perceive. Sometimes the spirit dissipates & joins the Tao, sometimes your spirit is transported back to our side of the Universe in a "new life." In the meantime, those who were left behind retain some contact, as all life is connected with the Tao.

As I say: maybe next life.