My dear friend Pat York died in a car-crash this weekend. Her daughter, Nora, was driving her home from a friendly gathering in Ohio, and failed to spot an oncoming bus on a left turn. Pat was pronounced dead at the scene and Nora is in hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. The bus-driver was also injured. Police say that the bus was probably in Nora's blind-spot and that the driver had no chance to see Nora's car.
Pat was one of my dearest and most valued friends. When some spot of good news befell me, she was often the first person I called. We shared hotel rooms together at WorldCons, not just to save money but because she was such a great person to chat with about the day's events. She was endlessly generous and visibly proud of her friends. She could always be counted upon to chime in on any discussion with just the right supportive words. Despite the fact that she was a generation older than me, she and I had an amazing rapport, sharing the same slightly raunchy sense of humor and a love of popular culture.
Pat was a brilliant writer, whose story Wishes was nominated for a Nebula Award. She was working on a fantastic, feminist Heinleinesque novel about a speakeasy on the moon when she died, and I'd workshopped pieces of it. It was pure York, sassy and human and funny. She was a keen workshopper and critic. My novels were all carefully vetted by Pat and revised to her spec.
Pat's contributions to the field went beyond her writing, though. As a career teacher, Pat was instrumental in several projects to create curriculum grounded in science fiction literature. She had a keen understanding of the greying of science fiction and resolved to do something to bring children back into the genre.
Pat was Boing Boing's first Guestblogger. I created the Guestblog specifically because I wanted to read what Pat would blog about and thought that giving her a pulpit on Boing Boing would spur her into it. She did an amazing job. Over the years, she suggested much of Boing Boing's best material, and her contributions to the old message boards were never less than stellar. Her private comments in email about Boing Boing were consistently the most encouraging and engaging I received.
Pat doted on her husband Jim and her two children, Ben and Nora. If her friends made her proud, her family made her glow. She doted not only on their worldly accomplishments, but on their emotional maturity and kindness, valuing them for how much light they shone on the world. Her love for Jim was so achingly strong and pure that she made them seem more like newlyweds at times than lifelong partners. Pat never took the people in her life for granted.
Pat was my rock and my anchor, and I wasn't the only one. We all leaned on Pat and we all loved her. I'm reeling from the shock of losing her. I don't know what I'll do without her. I miss her already.
I spoke with Ben yesterday. He was very shook up, but managing well — I would have expected no less from Pat's son. He and Jim were preparing to go to Ohio to take care of Nora. I offered to start a mailing list to help them get in touch with Pat's friends regarding funeral and memorial arrangements, which I've linked to below. I've also uploaded some of my pictures of Pat to Flickr (Pat watched my Flickr stream like a hawk and commented on it frequently), and tagged them with "patyork". You can add your own pictures if you have a Flickr account, or email them to me (thanks to Steve Samenski for sending some already) and I'll post them.
Goodbye Pat. You went too soon and too suddenly and I miss you terribly already. Not a day went by that I didn't think of you, and nothing in my life will be the same without you. I love you.