metaphortunate: (Default)
metaphortunate son ([personal profile] metaphortunate) wrote2016-11-10 10:35 pm

the teind to hell

In case you don’t know: [personal profile] tam_nonlinear is dead.
 
The last tumblr post she made, very characteristically, was an effort to make sure her cats were taken care of. The second to last was a request for someone to take over Tam Lin Balladry, the website she had maintained for as long as I’ve known her. I believe both cats and website are being cared for. Elizabeth Bear and Seanan McGuire are - were - friends of hers and seem to be taking care of it, which…thank you. There will also be a memorial gathering in Boston. I wish I were on the right coast to go.
 
This was one of those internet friendships that are hard to describe when people at work ask you if you’re okay. I never met Abigail. I never heard her voice. I hadn’t heard as much from her since the slow attrition of LiveJournal. But we were online friends for probably a decade. She was one of the most singular people I ever met. Well - we all know that online lives are curated. I’m sure there are hundreds of facets of her personality that I never knew. But I want to tell you about the Abigail that I knew online.
 
I am a better parent for having known her, and the way she wrote, so simply and beautifully, all about the slow, painstaking, patient work of loving wild things. I never knew anyone else whose love was so strongly given to the nonhuman world. To trees. To her garden. To wrens. To ferns. She noticed these tiny birds, these tiny leaves. Tiny changes in the park she took her walks in. And of course how she loved her cats. They were all ferals. It takes a lot of time and work and patience to earn the trust of a feral cat. It elevates respecting boundaries to an art form. I’ll never be as good at it as she was, but I’m better at it for having spent years reading regular updates on how patient, respectful, undemanding, constantly offered kindness opens up a space for trust and love. And about the responsibility that you take on when you get a wild thing to trust you. I remember when she had to take Portia to the vet to be put down. After years of slowly developing a relationship. The last gift she could give her was an easy death. And how she missed that cat. A cat that would rarely even come inside her house. She knew that Portia would never be able to come to her; so she went to Portia, she built their friendship on Portia’s turf. She held her so lightly. She knew how to love wild things. I often wondered how she learned it.
 
You know me, my view of life as a phenomenon is more or less that it’s a way for matter to have found a way to experience fear and suffering. Not a super great idea, in other words. But sometimes - I remember being in a planetarium once, and watching a show about all the different things in the galaxy, and all the galaxies in the universe, and how there is no life anywhere there, and it made me so sad, that there is so much beauty in the universe that will never be seen, by anyone. I wish it could be seen by someone like her. Someone who had the gift of really seeing. Someone who was a way for the universe to see itself, and know that it was beautiful.
 
And do you know what else she did? She did abortion clinic escorting. She fed possums, and she cared for wild cats, and she went to protests and Black Lives Matter rallies, and regularly, she went out and put herself between vulnerable women and people who want to scare and hurt them. She helped people. I admired her so much. I think I told her that. I hope I did.
 
She got laid off a couple of years ago, and she never was able to get another similar job after that. She was unemployed for a long time, and she had some retail and other part-time work, but I’m pretty sure it was nothing with insurance. And she had some serious long-term health issues. And then the election.
 
And she killed herself. I can’t even deal right now with people saying that we will survive Trump because ABBY IS ALREADY DEAD.
 
Tam Lin Balladry is her website of research, analysis, variations, and music for the ballad of Tam Lin. She maintained it for almost twenty years. It’s a complicated little story, that you can’t smooth a simple message out of. You have to contend with the rapey bit. There are so many ways to look at Janet. Is it a story about a girl looking for adventure? about women competing? Beauty and the Beast? making the best of what you’ve got? I’ve thought it about far more than I ever would have if I hadn’t known Abigail, and I’ll never know what exactly it was about that story that called to her so much, and motivated her to put so much work and care into it. But tonight I’m thinking about how hellishly seductive the idea is that we can save the things we love if we just hold on to them hard enough. I know it’s just a fairy tale, Abby. I will never blame you for letting go.
kore: (Default)

[personal profile] kore 2016-11-11 07:27 am (UTC)(link)
Beautifully put.

I hadn't spoken to her for a long long while but I thought about her a lot -- just so many things that would remind me of her on any given day.

I just....feel like I can't even process this really.
17catherines: Amor Vincit Omnia (Default)

[personal profile] 17catherines 2016-11-11 08:27 am (UTC)(link)
Thank you so much for writing this. You've captured what I feel perfectly. Like you, I saw her post on Dreamwidth only last night, then went to her Tumblr, and saw her last three posts. The one about the cats was what really broke my heart, because, as you say, she loved them so very much and so very *well*.

She was a wonderful person and the world is smaller and sadder without her.
17catherines: Amor Vincit Omnia (Default)

[personal profile] 17catherines 2016-11-12 09:34 pm (UTC)(link)
Me too. I've been going down her friends page reading everyone else's memories of her. She really touched a lot of people.
oursin: Beatrix Potter's Mrs Tiggywinkle, wearing an apron, clasping her paws, and looking upwards (Mrs Tiggywinkle)

[personal profile] oursin 2016-11-11 09:49 am (UTC)(link)
I was devastated to see the news. I too had known her since the early LJ days - must be 10-12 years.

She was interviewed, years ago, on Tam Lin for a BBC radio programme (which I don't suppose is available online after all this time). She had a beautiful soft voice.
Edited (icon) 2016-11-11 09:51 (UTC)
rmc28: Rachel smiling against background of trees, with newly-cut short hair (Default)

[personal profile] rmc28 2016-11-11 09:59 am (UTC)(link)
I am so sorry for your loss.

(Anonymous) 2016-11-11 10:25 am (UTC)(link)
I'm so sorry for your loss. And for our, the world's loss. Mary her memory be a blessing, which sounds like it should be easy.
jae: (Default)

[personal profile] jae 2016-11-11 11:53 am (UTC)(link)
I love that last line of yours. I'm so sorry for your loss. She sounds amazing.

-J
loligo: Scully with blue glasses (Default)

[personal profile] loligo 2016-11-11 01:06 pm (UTC)(link)
I am so very sorry.

(I saw her name around for years, but never took the opportunity to get to know her. I see now that that was my loss.)
azurelunatic: A glittery black pin badge with a blue holographic star in the middle. (Default)

[personal profile] azurelunatic 2016-11-15 05:31 am (UTC)(link)
This.
princessofgeeks: (Default)

[personal profile] princessofgeeks 2016-11-11 01:24 pm (UTC)(link)
I am so sorry.
antisoppist: (Default)

[personal profile] antisoppist 2016-11-11 01:25 pm (UTC)(link)
I didn't know her. I wish I had. Thank you for writing this. I'm sorry.
kate_nepveu: sleeping cat carved in brown wood (Default)

[personal profile] kate_nepveu 2016-11-11 01:40 pm (UTC)(link)
Fuck. My condolences to all who knew her.
akamarykate: (Default)

[personal profile] akamarykate 2016-11-11 01:40 pm (UTC)(link)
Hi--I'm here from the network/friendsoffriends feature. I went looking to see if anyone else was feeling the same way, was missing Abby the way I am, that strange "I never met you but you are an important part of my life" internet friendship vibe that means we feel the absence so deeply but can't always explain it to someone else.

Yours was the first entry I saw. I just want to say thank you, for remembering her and writing so beautifully about her own brand of compassion and fierceness. Her relationship with Portia was the epitome of Abby-ness, wasn't it?

Thank you, thank you so much, for writing this. (I need to get my scattered self together and put down some thoughts later today, because it's the only wake I can attend, the last thing I can give her.) I'm gutted all over again, but I feel less alone now, and I hope you do, too.
khedron: (Default)

[personal profile] khedron 2016-11-11 02:42 pm (UTC)(link)
So sorry. For everything.
wild_irises: (sumo)

[personal profile] wild_irises 2016-11-11 07:10 pm (UTC)(link)
This
Edited 2016-11-11 19:11 (UTC)
laurashapiro: a woman sits at a kitchen table reading a book, cup of tea in hand. Table has a sliced apple and teapot. A cat looks on. (Default)

[personal profile] laurashapiro 2016-11-11 03:14 pm (UTC)(link)
I'm so sorry. She sounds like a wonderful person.
phi: (Default)

[personal profile] phi 2016-11-11 03:34 pm (UTC)(link)
I'm so sorry for your loss. Your tribute to her was beautiful and makes me wish I had had the privilege of meeting her.
brainwane: A silhouette of a woman in a billowing trenchcoat, leaning against a pole (shadow)

[personal profile] brainwane 2016-11-11 03:41 pm (UTC)(link)
My deep condolences.
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[personal profile] norah 2016-11-11 04:33 pm (UTC)(link)
So sorry. Ping me if you need me. This is so hard.
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[personal profile] roadrunnertwice 2016-11-11 04:35 pm (UTC)(link)
Oh no. :( I'm so sorry.
tablesaw: Two yellow roses against a bright blue sky. (Family Roses)

[personal profile] tablesaw 2016-11-11 09:12 pm (UTC)(link)
Thank you for this post.

(Anonymous) 2016-11-11 11:11 pm (UTC)(link)
(Here through Juliansinger)

If it hadn't been for Tam's LJ, I wouldn't have known that, toward the end of the summer and getting into fall, sometimes bees don't have enough energy to make it back to their hives, and they fall and eventually die, and I wouldn't have a vivid image of a woman I never knew in person holding a teaspoonful of honey gently in front of a bumblebee that had fallen on her porch, to let it eat enough to get back in the air and get home.

If it hadn't been for Tam's LJ, I wouldn't know about the balls ants form to cross water, the ball turning as it progresses so that every ant takes a turn at going into the water, but no ant is under water for longer than it can tolerate.

It was the best kind of metaphor for her - one that is actually true. I wish our slowly turning society had managed to bring her back to the surface again.

Calluna V.
wordweaverlynn: (Default)

[personal profile] wordweaverlynn 2016-11-12 05:29 am (UTC)(link)
I have no words.
aedifica: Photo of purple yarrow flowers. (Achillea millefolium)

[personal profile] aedifica 2016-12-11 05:15 am (UTC)(link)
I’ve included your post in a list of all the memorial posts for Abby that I could find, here: https://aedifica.dreamwidth.org/834987.html If you’d like me to remove your post, please let me know, and I will.