If you’re there, at the giant keyboard beyond reality, my colleague Terry Pratchett died, and I’d like to have a word with you, about his life, his work, his destination.
Yes, I know you’re not really an Author, but this is how my sadly limited human mind copes with it, so bear with me and allow me to address you as such.
This man Pratchett, you see, spent his life creating a reality, parallel to your own, but not un-akin and not a bad reflection of it, if I may say so. He used his gifts to see into the heart of men and women (and dwarves and trolls.) He brought moments of sudden understanding to hearts locked in grief or shame or fear (mine a few times.)
Sometimes his words, his thoughts, were the only thing that stretched between me and unbearable grief or physical pain. And they held, a bridge of silvery light between here and there.
But he did more. Even when fortune kissed his brow and his books were well known, and he was knighted and admired, he never assumed airs. He was the first to tell you about the hard years of rejections, the years of stumbling in the dark when his stuff just wasn’t selling. And he was the first to say if you weren’t selling, it didn’t mean you were bad. It was just luck, or how much push you got.
This man Pratchett would hug a total unknown at a con and tell her to cheer up.
This man Pratchett, he brought readers from laughter to tears in a moment and the rest of us followed, stumbling, trying to do the same, unable quite, but being shown how to reach.
I don’t precisely know what he believed. It doesn’t matter. We writers have problems with belief, caught between realities, suspended from our own dreams, spinning between light and dark and needing both to work with. Sometimes it’s really hard to have simple faith. The thing is we rarely have faith that there’s nothing there, either.
If there’s nothing there, it doesn’t matter.
But if there is, would you please take into account he was a writer and a hard working one. An honest one, too, not running down humanity, not making a mockery of good and justice. And that between word and word it is sometimes hard to remember to follow the strict dictates of any religion, or to attend services or to be very pious.
Take in account too that he died with his mind dissolving into dream and unknowing, the worst nightmare of those of us who work out there in the limnear dark.
Also weigh in that he was kind to cats and loved them, a peculiar infection you give to us writers to teach us (further) humility.
Consider, please, the elephants and the turtles, and the policemen and the witches who will be speaking of personal responsibility and care for others, of gentleness and justice and love even of those not perfect to young not yet born.
He was a man, take it all in all. We will not see his like as a writer again.
Take him into your eternal plot, oh, author, and write him a universe or two where he can play at world building, somewhere with books and ginger biscuits and a properly brewed cup of tea.
This I ask you, I who am a writer, and partake many of the same failings, and am not great on faith either, but hope to be treated kindly when my story is done.
If there is an afterlife, let him be there, where words are never scarce, where one is never tired, and where joy and love flow together.