Monday, December 10, 2007

Anita Rowland

Anita Rowland, one of the founding mothers of the contemporary blogging culture, died today at Swedish Hospital after several years of battling ovarian cancer. She was 51.

Anita's Book of Days, the blog she kept from 1997 through 2006, says everything about Anita. Her mischievous, subtle, and even-tempered personality shines through in every entry.

Anita and I lived somewhat parallel lives (grew up in Northern Virginia, moved to Seattle, became writers in the tech industry, loved genre fiction, enjoyed swing dancing, and married relatively late in life — to geeky guys who read genre fiction). Our paths finally crossed through the Seattle Webloggers Meetup that Anita led and I attended. She gently urged me to do more of the genre fiction writing I love, and saw that I was introduced to other supportive people in the field (through events like Potlatch).

Anita was a joy. I miss her.

[NOTE: This is cross-posted to my other blogs]

I visited Anita at the hospital over the weekend; while Anita dozed, Jack (her husband) and Bill (a friend from the SF community) talked about the love of reading we all share, and the work of British fantasy author Terry Pratchett. Tonight, reading Anita's Book of Days, I was intrigued and cheered to come across this entry she wrote in 1998 after reading a friend's blog:

"It's such an odd, out-of-flow, time, the actual vigil at the bedside of someone dying. And how much you grieve while they are dying, when it's a long illness. It's like you grieve ahead of time! So many little losses as the dying person gets weaker and sicker.

"The old customs of mourning had a lot of good things about them. The wearing of black clothes was a marker that meant that the mourning person wasn't held to normal standards of behavior. The mourner might cry or laugh inappropriately, or act oddly in other ways, and that was okay!"

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