I was out hiking a trail when Jeremy Soldevilla’s name dinged on my phone. I paused to stretch my legs and chat while looking out over the glorious Gallatin Valley below where my friend and his dogs spent many fine days exploring.
“Jer! I miss you. How’s life in Boston?”
“Good. I finished my last novel… and I just got married.”
“Yeah. I’m so happy about both.” His voice softened as he told me how he’d been given a second chance at true love. I told him how happy I was for them. I stepped off to the side of the path when a couple college kids sprinted past, up the steep grade of the mountain without even breathing hard. Jeremy paused. His voice dropped to almost a whisper then and he told me he’d just been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. My legs went limp dumping me on my butt.
Jeremy had every reason to fight and he promised he would, but also that he’d lived well, had no regrets, he said. He was filled with gratitude and grace.
Oh God. “How do we do this, my dear? What can I do?”
“Keep writing,” he said.
So I did. I wrote a review for his new book, and much too soon, I wrote a farewell. On days when I want to give up on the page, I remember my promise.
For you, my friend:
Happy trails to you, fearless Inkslinger. Thank you for the rare gift of sharing brief treks through your bright Indian Summer of mystery, mastery and adventure…yes, and of heartache, and the heart’s return home.
You’ve left behind all that burdens the soul, entrusting the care of this gorgeous planet and its creatures to those of us who follow. You’ve emboldened us. And we will rise to the challenge of living and dying as courageously.
Thank you for changing the course of my life. You are a forever hero of mine not only because you accomplished what we writers dream of accomplishing, you showed us daily focus and unwavering tenacity, even with all the dings and scrapes of life. You did it. And, you tricked us into daring to believe that we can too.
You fought the fight, ran the race well. You gave us story, hope, and a new way of seeing. You raised the stakes, gave the clarion call. You will continue to be named on many an acknowledgments page, dear friend, editor, and publisher. #bozemaninkslingers #writerfriends Frank Seitz Sharon West Dunn Susan Geske Marci Whitehurst Jamie Downer Dennis Flath Kay Van Norman Derry Long Daisy Rain Martin Candace Casey Spencer Wallace