Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Rest in Peace
It is appropriate that it is cold and rainy today, and that I've also had the blues since yesterday morning. I understand it all now.
Mid-morning, BP (those are initials for a sweet co-worker kind enough to lend me It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia DVDs, not British Petroleum) came into my office and let me know one of our authors died.
Now, this has happened before; our Seattle author died of throat cancer last year, but I didn't know the fellow.
But BP told me Frank Durham died. One of our New Orleans booksellers, Octavia Books, called to give us the bad news. They evidently put him in hospice for a couple days, and he died shortly thereafter. (I still don't have concrete news as to whether it was yesterday or when...)
We all knew Frank was sick. He had cancer when we signed the book deal, and was in treatment the entire time I've known him. I never asked him what type of cancer, but the last time I saw him, he was radiating his liver. (Is that grammatically correct?)
Even being an older fellow and being sick with terminal cancer, Frank was a brilliant and passionate man devoted to both physics and metaphysics, his family, and literature. I only had the pleasure of being around him twice since we signed him, but those two times were so special to Judge and me. We drove them around Nashville when they came here, took his wife Darla out to eat when he wasn't feeling well, hung out in Mobile at a party in his honor, and sat and watched him explain the intricacies of his debut novel, Cain's Version, to a rapt crowd.
His book is amazing. I read the manuscript and told my boss he had to call him right then, to make sure no one snatched up this amazing man - and lo and behold - he was thrilled to work with us and we signed with him immediately.
When I met Frank, and his wife, I felt as if I'd known them before. Perhaps we were just similar spirits, but when Judge and I went out with them, it didn't seem there was an age gap between any of us, and we spent the whole time talking politics and family. Or just laughing.
I feel a bit silly crying as I did when I found out today, only because I've just met Frank, a year ago, and seen him twice, but all the work we did together on the book, the trade shows, the evenings and weekends together, our families meeting and appreciating each other, it made me break down and cry and the weight of the loss of him in the world just came crashing down on me.
Rest in Peace, Frank Durham. I wish you were still around, and I'm sorry your family has to go on without your presence. But, I'm glad you aren't in pain anymore.