Last week was a shock to the system. Friends within the online community started acting strange Sunday morning, posting somewhat vague and cryptic statuses about sorrow. By early Sunday evening we found out why. One of our own was diagnosed with cancer in July and it was so severe there were weeks, maybe just days to say goodbye. Wednesday evening, P.G. Holyfield lost his very short battle with cancer. The community, which was already stunned, was overrun with sorrow. He was young, talented and well-loved by all who knew him, and it was amazing to see the outpouring of love and stories of interactions and encounters with this amazing man who touched the lives of everyone who knew him.
I did not know P.G. Holyfield well, but when I was podcasting my first novel, The Goblin Market, we interacted through social media, sharing each other’s links and work, occasionally chatting via Twitter or Facebook. He was always nice, always helpful. His award-winning novell, Murder at Avedon Hill, was still buzzing in new media circles, so it was exciting to befriend someone who knew more than I did about what I was doing.
Even though I didn’t know him well, hearing of his sudden loss was a heavy blow. It brought tears to my eyes as I watched those who did know him pour love and memory and grief into cyberspace. He touched so many lives and it was heartbreaking to think of how empty the world was going to feel without someone like him in it.
The emptiness left behind when a star supernovas is a black hole, and black holes just swallow everything into oblivion. To quote Neil Degrasse Tyson, “We are all made of star stuff,” so when one of us supernovas, the emptiness it leaves behind is stifling, but that loss also gives way to new life, new stars…
Watching the community pull together over the last week has been a beautiful thing. The circumstances that brought everyone to that place are devastating and tragic, but from the darkness there was light. People telling each other how important they are, how much they mean to one another, how much they’ve impacted the lives they’ve touched… It’s a wonderful thing because most of us care very deeply about each other, even though we’ve never sat down face to face. We’ve shared deep, personal conversations. Grown attached to one another even though we may not have ever met face to face. We have each others’ backs when the going gets tough. It’s a strange and wonderful thing, but we are a family of sorts. A family full of people who may have never been in the same actual room together, but a family nonetheless.
It’s a hard thing to get slapped in the face with life’s harsh realities. The future is promised to no one. We can make plans, but the universe (or whatever other higher power we might believe in,) has plans of its own and we can’t thwart them no matter how hard we try. Ever since my mom passed away, I’ve wrestled with this reality. Part of me believes I need to do whatever it takes to live the life that matters to me because this is the only life I have, and once again in the wake of loss I find myself reaffirming this notion.
Life is short. Shorter for some than it is for others, but short nonetheless. We have to make the most of what we are given. We need to do whatever it takes to ensure we live a life that fulfills us. It’s hard to remember that on the day to day, especially when the heavy curtain of adult reality drops with its bill collectors and grocery baskets full of ramen noodles we can scarcely afford. No matter what we need to do to survive, I hope we all make time to do what really matters to us. I also hope we continue to love the people in our lives that matter to us out loud.
If you would like to donate to the P.G. Holyfield Cancer Support Fund, please visit this link. Even if you aren’t able to donate, I hope you’ll share it with others.