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Gifts

When I landed in Logan I had a lot of mixed feelings about attending the Uncon. I wondered if I would meet people I would like and who would like me. I wondered if I was going to enjoy any of it –in part because I was not feeling any kind of creative vibe and hadn’t for quite a while, but mostly because this was to be the final farewell to my friend and sister of choice, Lisa Threadgill.
Originally Lisa and I were going to come to Uncon together. We both loved the idea of going to Salem, with all its witchy Awesomeness, and being in New England during the fall. We were going to room together and split costs. The two of us hadn’t gone on an adventure since 2007, so we were both psyched for the trip. And then she died.
I watched the Writer’s Unboxed list as news of her death reached them. There was an out pouring of real grief. This touched me deeply. I spoke with other close friends about this and shared some of the posts. We talked about it. It seemed to all of us that Lisa had unfinished business with these people who supported her writing and gave so much encouragement. I was the one who should go. I already had a room. The money for the Uncon was spent. I could help bring closure to her supporters. It was one last favor for a dear friend and sister.
I arrived at the hotel a little depressed and a touch overwhelmed by enormity of what should have been. I rattled around in the lobby asking people if they were there for the con. No luck. I had dinner alone and then driven by restlessness I went outside to smoke. Some people were gathered there. A bunch came in as I went out, leaving one man, who was in sandals with these extraordinary toed rainbow socks. It was Mike Swift. At last –an Uncon goer.
Within minutes of talking to him I thought “They ought to make this guy the official ambassador of the event.” He hauled me inside into the fancy restaurant to a table full of people, and introduced me to Therese and Sean Walsh, Vaughn, and a whole bunch of people -warm, happy, joyous people. From that point on nearly all my apprehension and yes, my guilt for being where Lisa could not be, dwindled.
Monday night I was slated to give a short talk , when I accepted an art piece made to honor Lisa. When the time came to speak I felt calm and sure of what I felt Lisa wanted them to know. As I spoke I was nearly overwhelmed at the out pouring of quiet emotion on the faces of the people before me. I was not alone in my grief or regret. That is a lot to share with so many people I had never met before. It was real, it was inclusive and it was grounding for me.
There must have been a hundred times during the week when I said to myself. “You would have loved this Lisa.” When Marta brought out her action figure of Poe to have a drink with us in the bar, while I had breakfast with Lance (whom she would have adored), when we caught sight of the “Bung Hole Liquors” sign, (she would have collapsed in a heap laughing at that one) and at the nightly poker game – (she would have won all our chips in short order). She would have been firmly in the I Hate Seafood Group. Scrunching down in the corner to avoid touching any “seabugs”. She would have given the Irish for butt plug and instantly made up a naughty song about it.
And the people she would have fallen in love with –oh my. She would have fallen instantly and deeply in love with Therese and Sean. She would have done the same with Denise, Tonia, Jo, Mike, Natalie, Soni, Sevigne and so very many more. She would have been deeply concerned as Sean and I were when Writer Bob failed to make an appearance that fateful morning. She would have been saddened by his death but happy that he fulfilled one last item on his bucket list. This hit me rather hard, because it was then that I understood that coming to Salem with me, was on Lisa’s bucket list. Her health had been deteriorating that rapidly. I didn’t get it until that moment. She didn’t make it to Salem.
Or did she? I never felt closer to her than when I was in Salem. I came to Uncon to give the gift of what I knew of Lisa Threadgill to those who supported her but had never met her and to thank the people who made it possible for her to finish the first book of her trilogy. But for that last duty to my friend and sister, I would not have attended Uncon.
It was because I attended that in a very real way Lisa gave me the gift –the opportunity of Uncon, with all you wonderful people and all those fun adventures and fabulous workshops. She gave me the opportunity to make deep new friendships to assuage the grief and loneliness of losing one dear friend. I don’t know how to thank her any other way.

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