Monday, May 31, 2010

Buchi Eihei In pacem

(from Spider)

Jeanne Robinson left this life at about 4:45 Sunday afternoon, a gentle smile on her face. Her departure was quite peaceful and she was in no pain at all.

Because her Palliative Care doctor, Paul Sugar, was able to forecast her passing almost to the hour, her daughter Terri, son-in-law Heron and granddaughter Marisa flew back from NYC just in time, and were with me at her side when Jeanne died; and her mother Dorothy and sister Laurie arrived from Massachusetts only a couple of hours later, after Terri had had time to expertly make Jeanne look better than she had for days. Zen priests Michael and Kate Newton were also present per Jeanne’s wishes, as were our oldest friends in this part of the world, Greg McKinnon, Anya Coveney-Hughes and Stevie McDowell. Over the next few hours more sangha buddies arrived, and chanting of the Prajna Paramita Heart Sutra was done. Her body was then bathed and dressed in her hand-sewn rakasu as per Zen tradition.

In accordance with her wishes she will be cremated. Half her ashes will be scattered off this coast, and half will be taken back to her childhood home, Cape Cod, so that her East Coast family will have a place to go and visit her.

Only moments after Jeanne had passed, Terri put little Marisa down on Jeanne’s breast and told her to give Nana a hug. Marisa did, one of the boneless-sprawl, cheek-rubbing, no-hurry hugs we’ve all come to know means she really loves and trusts whoever she’s hugging. And then she raised herself up on one arm, looked at Jeanne’s face....I swear this is true.....and waved bye-bye. The hairs stood up on the back of my neck.

If you’re in the Vancouver/North Vancouver area, you should receive a second message later, as soon as I know when her services will be held, at Cates Hill Chapel here on Bowen Island. At this point I don’t even know when or where she’ll be cremated: her social-worker sister Laurie O’Neil is, with characteristic kindness, fielding such practical matters for me and Terri.

One thing I can report: Jeanne, a lay-ordained Soto Zen monk, always yearned to become a full Buddhist priest.....but the five-year-period of intensive practice and fulltime study in the monastery required was logistically difficult for us, among other things, and we kept putting it off. In a recent farewell phone conversation, she told her personal teacher Tenshin Reb Anderson Zenki that her biggest regret was that she had never been able to find a way to study to become a priest. Reb (who gave her both her Dharma name, Buchi Eihei—”dancing wisdom; eternal peace”—and her nickname in the Zen community, “Wired Buddha”) immediately told her he would come to her funeral, and ordain her a priest on the spot. That brought her deep joy—and will, I have no doubt, assist her greatly in her travels through the bardos.

The only dying wish she missed was to be driven down to Seattle in a few weeks, to see/hear Crosby, Stills and Nash. I should probably go myself...but I doubt I’ll have the heart, that soon.

I cannot praise highly enough Dr. Paul Sugar and the entire staff of the Palliative Care Wing of North Vancouver’s Lion’s Gate Hospital. All nurses and nursing aides are heros, but those who work exclusively with the dying are a breed apart. (as are those who work Burn Units.) These boddhisattvas—over a dozen of them in the course of a week—were without exception willing to accede to absolutely any reasonable request by a family member, and any unreasonable request by a heavily drugged patient—with infinite patience, competence and compassion. They ignored regulations that were unreasonable, and enforced the important ones with firm kindness. Visiting hours are 24-7. They actively encourage the playing of instruments and singing, raucous laughter, and the sound of crying babies. They are not stingy with the dilaudid. When your loved one enters endgame, they offer you blankets, pillows and a special chair which can effortlessly become a startlingly comfortable bed, so you can stay at the bedside all night, for as many nights as necessary. If you’d rather get a nearby hotel or B&B, they’ll find one for you and get you a rate.

Maybe this will shorthand it. One of the nurses assigned to Jeanne got chatting with her as she worked, learned a bit of Jeanne’s story. Then, completely on her own initiative, she went to one of the computers in the nurse’s station, Googled up both our websites, found and printed out the best photos of Jeanne dancing, solo and with her company, and also driving across America in a red, white and blue VW microbus with her first husband Daniel Corrigan, and winning a Hugo Award in Phoenix with me—and then she taped them all those photos up to the closet door beside Jeanne’s bed. As James Taylor sang, “Whatcha gonna do with folks like that?”

I have lost my best friend, teacher, partner, lover and co-grandparent—seemingly forever as I understand that word. But by chance, on this same day, two different people emailed me links to a letter written by Robert A. Heinlein to Forrest J. Ackerman near the end of World War Two, consoling Forry on the loss of his brother in combat. In the middle of it, he suddenly wrote, “Forry, I have not a belief, not a conviction, but personal knowledge of survival after death. You will see your brother again.”

If that’s true—and who am I to doubt Robert Heinlein on a matter so important?—then all I have to do is find her again. I’ll simply track her across the universes and through the dimensions like Kimball Kinnison and his Clarissa, or Alexander Hergensheimer chasing his Margrethe to Hell itself, if I have to. Shit, for a minute there, I thought I had a problem. Merely a tedious delay. Have a lot to tell her about when we finally do find each other. Try to spend the downtime becoming a better, kinder man.

I believe the Tibetan Buddhist tradition says a dead person’s soul takes 49 days to get its act together and fully depart this plane of existence. So please keep an eye out for Jeanne, and continue to toss out an occasional prayer or good thought for her—at least until July 16 or so.

Thank you for being her friend and mine. I must sleep now, if that is possible.



Tina said...

I suspect she will be there to welcome you -- no chasing necessary.

Unknown said...

There's so much I want to say here, and the words simply won't come. I'll condense it as much as possible. We love you, Spider, you and all your immediate family. Thank you, thank Jeanne, thank you both. In a moment of Callahanian level irony, the security word I have to enter to get this comment submitted is "cures". God is indeed an iron this day.

Jenn McWhorter said...

Spider, Sam and I wish there were something that we could do. All that I can think of is to spread the link to the We Dream For Jeanne blog, because I know you must still be drowning in financial worries.

Know that you, Jeanne, Terri, and the rest of your family are in our sincerest prayers.

Sam asks me to tell you that losing your wife is one of the hardest things that can happen, but that she will always live in your heart, and eventually you will feel less pain. He knows. He has his beloved first wife Kara in his heart.

Were it not for you and Mike Callahan, Sam and I would never have met. We owe our happiness to you. I wish that we could give you a huge chunk of that happiness right now.

We love you. Truly. You have my email address. Should you need anything that we might be able to provide, you only need ask.

Please take care of yourself.

Unknown said...

I am so sorry for your loss, Spider and family. I am glad she was able to go peacefully surrounded by loved ones. She was a lovely lady with a fiery spirit. It was a joy and a privilege to meet you both on a few occasions. It is hard to imagine you apart. You two are an example to me of true love and commitment, and I believe you will - that you must - find each other again.

Unknown said...

I am ever so glad Wayne and I had the opportunity to meet you both in a little bookstore in Greenwich Village years ago, and take the subway ride with you afterwards. We couldn't help but hope that with so many people sending love, Light and hope that maybe a miracle could occur. Since that couldn't happen we are so glad that her transition happened painlessly and surrounded by so much love. I have no doubt she will be watching over you in between exploring the Universe, and waiting for you when that time comes. We will be performing a Reiki rite meant to ease her passage, and attempt to ease your pain. You had a great love - that is a rare and beautiful thing, so hopefully that will help also.

The dome said...

"Shared pain is lessened; shared joy, increased — thus do we all refute entropy."
The Cast and Crew of Sci Fi Saturday Night

qtera said...

She is with you now and always will be.
Much love,
Patricia Rogers

kittent said...

Spider, we love and yours are in our hearts and prayers.

Matthew Sanborn Smith said...

All my love to you and your family, Spider, and whatever strength I have as well.

Janus Bellator said...

You'll have no trouble tracking her down when comes your time, Spider -- you'll see your lady dancing toward you from a long way off, having established dance classes and theater groups in the wherevermore toward which she is now heading.

My heart to you and Terri and all your family. I shall miss Jeanne's physical presence, but I will remember with joy that she was a kind and beautiful woman who loved very deeply, and that I was honored to have known her just a little.

Noel Lynne Figart said...

Oh, Spider, I am so sorry for your loss.

You and Jeanne, through your work, have done so very much to make my life richer, I wish that there was something I could do for YOU to make it all better.

I know, that ain't exactly happenin'. But for what it's worth, I'll do my best to be more kindly and compassionate in honor of a kindly and compassionate lady and pray for your own heart's ease.

Knives, Fire & Fun said...

May happy memories lighten your grief.

dcw said...

All these literate people leaving all these profound words...
...what they said, and double, and triple.


Kenora said...

Oh, Spider, I am so very sorry for your loss.

My heart is with you and Terri and all of your family and friends at this time. You and Jeanne showed me worlds I could not have dreamed of, and for that I will always be grateful.

filkertom said...

Damn damn damn. So very sorry, sir. Condolences, virtual hugs, gentle songs.

theo j. said...

I offer my deepest condolences to you, Spider, as well as to Terri Luanna, and to you and Jeanne's immediate and extended families. I'm deeply glad that Jeanne's final time on this plane saw her well cared-for, free of all managable pain, and surrounded by caring people. Hopefully that's of some comfort. Now, please let your friends take care of you while you start finding ways to heal. A Zen Hug to you, and to all those whom Jeanne loved---Theo Williams

Starshadow said...

Oh, Spider, words can't convey how much my heart is with you at this time. I know you know my brother, Steve, and though I had only met you and Jeanne once at that Norwescon long ago, I hope you'll know I speak as a friend you just don't know rather than a fan alone.

Many long hugs to you and to your family. I know you'll see Jeanne again someday, as I know life continues on always.

May all the gods watch over you and yours.

glinda_w said...

I am so sorry.

Rachel LS said...

My condolences. I am glad you have good memories of her. I thank you both for the written dreams you have shared with the rest of us.

C. A. Bridges said...

And one day when you go to meet her, a crimson-winged angel will approach you from the direction of Saturn's great Ring...

It is impossible to read your work and not soak in the love you and Jeanne had for each other. And it is -- at least I hope it is -- impossible to read those words, and not feel inspired to seek such a love in one's own life, never settling for less.

My heart goes out to you and your family.

EleriCooks said...

Thank you for sharing her, and yourself, with us. The fireplace glistens with broken glass today.

Eleri, VaxJedi & the Kids.

Caitlyn Haiku said...


to borrow a quote from Callahan's Legacy... she ain't dead, she just isn't here right now. Such a loving and bright soul as Jeanne, you won't have to search for her, she'll come to meet you when its time.

Take care, my love to you and your family... from one whose life, through your and Jeanne's writing, you both saved... thank you both

Benjamin Stürmer said...

Shared sorrow is lessened - I know that the pain of the loss of a partner as inspiring as Jeanne must be incredible, but know that your sorrow is shared by us who have been inspired by her, and by your love for one another. Your sorrow is a tribute to her greatness, but I hope you know that you are mourning from the middle of a world-wide group hug between all those whose lives she touched.

brycewat said...

You don't know me, but I am a fan of Boingboing. It was that blog that led me to this one, where I discovered this incredible woman. She lives on sir, and I am thankful of her spirit, and the humanity that pours from this site.

Cheron said...

It was impossible to see the two of you together and not see the Love that surrounded you as a glow. I am not a wordsmith, and others have said it far better than I could. Long-distance hugs for you and yours, to help share the joy that is Jeanne and the sorrow of her leaving.

Lady Cheron

Unknown said...

All warm thoughts and love to you, Spider, and all who knew and loved Jeanne. I never had that privilege, and will always regret it. I thank the universe for Jeanne and her work which brought many people, including myself, such joy.

James Sherwood said...

As with others, Spider, I know you and Jeanne solely through the aegis of your written work. But that is enough for me at present. My deepest condolences on your temporary separation, but, like Heinlein, I have a personal knowledge that life transcends the sloughing of the mortal shell. You will see her again.

A big Zen hug to you and yours in this hardest of times.

Michael A. Burstein said...

Spider, as always, you and your family are in my thoughts.

Jacob Sommer said...

I am sorry, Spider. Like Michael said, you and your family are in my thoughts.
If you need to take a little time off from the world to grieve, I say take the time. The world, including us, will still be here when you get back.

Unknown said...

I never got a chance to meet either of you physically, but I cannot help but know Jeanne in my heart. Her dances, writing and spiritual work transcend the realm of the physical.

My heart breaks for you in your loss. I send my hopes and good wishes to both you and Jeanne, and will continue to do so beyond 49 days.

Know that love surrounds you and your family, and that Jeanne dances among us all.

Lisa Marie Bhattacharya (Whitaker) RHN said...

Spider and Terri and family.
My heart sank at the news of Jeanne's passing. I didn't want to believe this day would come. But I'm so very relieved to know she passed peacefully and in your loving presence with your little angel Marisa (thank you for sharing this beautiful message Spider)

Though I only knew her for a relatively short time, I loved her. Not many people leave such an impression. She was a true individual.
Her honesty, kindness and loving energy will never be forgotten. I appreciate it so much.
She continues to inspire me to be a better woman.

Sending love and warm hugs to all of you...and to Jeanne in her travels off this plane of existence.

Lisa Marie
PS: PLEASE just say the word and I'll bring warm food (0382)

ed bryant said...

What a beautiful, loving account, commentary, and remembrance, Spider. You do Jeanne proud.
-- Ed Bryant

Emma Bull said...

You, Jeanne, and your family are in my thoughts and prayers. Love and peace to you all.

Bruce said...

Our deepest condolences to you and yours, Mr. Robinson.

Peter Watts said...

What has always saddened and angered me most in a universe full of life is that these amazing little knots of complexity can wake up and look around and hold each other — and then they stop, and this universe will never see their like again, and is so much poorer for it.

I hope you find Jeanne in some other place. I wish I had known her better.

--Peter Watts

Anonymous said...

I feel for you, lost my mother to cancer, rescently, Hospice was and is the Bodhisatva producer of the universe.. The morning after she died a friend called and told me she dreamed Mom and Dad are together again after 15 years. I believe her! You will be together again.
Just a fan

Anne Gwin said...

I'm so sorry, Spider.

Cameron said...

I commented on the first post of her passing, but again, I must say - Spider, we love you, we mourn her and she have touched our lives and changed them with your writing and her dance. Her memory will be honored forever with us. When my mother passed, years ago, I was given a dream wherein I met with her on a glorious mountain plateau and visited with her, speaking of her death and passing. I don't doubt it was more than dream, but vision and reality - you won't have to chase to find her, Spider...she will be there waiting, and all you both have accomplished during your time apart will be the gifts that you will have for each other!

Heathersfolly said...

I've been re-reading and re-listening to the Stardance trilogy these last few days. I imagine Jeanne best in the prolog to Starseed-bowing to the universe, then waving.

bless you both.

Cameron said...

Spider, fiker here. the muse caught up with me a moment ago - this is the refrain, will finish it tomorrow.

Star Dancer
For Jeanne Robinson

A dance in a Spiral
In unbounded space
With star light for candles
In Infinite grace
Earthbound we mortals, we look to the stars
And know that the dance that she dances
Is ours

Copywrite: HCWebb 2010

Unknown said...

Thank you for everything.

Unknown said...

I've only ever seen the both of you from afar, but I'm sitting here crying for Jeanne. In your own words: "Shared pain is lessened..."

Here's hoping that on the next journey through life, you meet each other sooner and know each other better than you ever have before.

Thanking you both for everything,
--a sad fan

Unknown said...

Just another soul who found Callahan's when they needed it most and feels a debt of gratitude to you (through the internet community based on your books) for not only helping her get her life back together, but introducing her to her husband and her chosen family.

Your family is in my family's thoughts and prayers.

Blessed be.

Anonymous said...

My husband and I met the two of you at BayCon in San Jose, many years past now. They had scheduled a concert for you, but not a reading - whereupon you promptly invited all of us to your hotel room. I remember watching you make googly faces at a toddler crawling across the floor while Jeanne read from the opening of Starseed.

My husband and I were cleaning our apartment recently, and I found a photo of the four of us taken that weekend. It was amusingly symmetrical - two skinny dudes with beards and fedoras, two well-rounded women with curly hair. I'll make sure to scan it in and send it to you.

All my love to you and your family.

Anonymous said...

To dance with the stars was her dream and now she can.
Duncan Holt

Sandi said...

I am so sorry Spider, we had all hoped for a better outcome. Go to CSN. If it's within her 49 days she'll be there waiting for you, and Jake would remind you of the solace to be found in the music.

Alisa said...

I have no adequate words. I do not think there are any adequate words. So many grieve with you, and for you. My tears are not for Jeanne, though; they are for you. If anyone can bring joy and dancing to the bardos, it will be she.

This one thing I can tell you. Heinlein was right. I know that from personal experience, though it's far too long a tale to be telling here. But you don't have much work to do - you're already one of the finest souls that ever wore a body.

Blessed be.

Zoe Brain said...

I feel like I'm acting like a spoiled child. I was so lucky to have shared the planet with her for so long. Now I'm crying because that time is ended.

Love, and Hugs, and Sympathies,

Juno42 said...

The universe outdid itself when it generated Jeanne. It is she, not Shara Drummond, who is the first Stardancer.

Spider, it is your work, solo and with Jeanne, which kept me from sliding into a serious depression. Callahan's made me feel much better about life than anything else had at the time, and Stardance gave me hope for what we as humans may become in the future. I thank you both for that. It's kind of a bummer Jeanne won't be on the same Plane with us when the Stardance movie happens, but I'm sure she will see it somehow. Hey, maybe if you two decide to reincarnate at some point they'll be a hologram version available!

Love and other good vibes,
Astryd, a fan in California.

P.S. Callahan's also made me want to become a writer. Time will tell whether I should thank you for that. But I still love you, anyway. :3

Jeffrey A. Carver said...

Prayers and best wishes from here in Boston, Spider. And don't worry about finding her later--she'll find you.

Jeff Carver

Stonecat said...


Yours and Jeanne's work stepped into my life and changed it for the better at a time when I desperately needed it. I'm grateful to live in a world that has been blessed by her presence and yours as well. I wish for you and your family to have all the things that you need in this time.

Blessed Be,


Unknown said...

Don't know where to start, only that there is no end... My selfish sadness cannot support you & yours right now, but I WILL get to the point where I can and I will. Your support & friendship is cherished, as were visits with you, and given what (little) I've gleaned, CSN might be a good idea. Long warm strong hugs from the Toronto Ninjas, Court (JC) & Shirley.

JD Rhoades said...

Not gone away, but gone ahead.

She created a great story with her life, and was blessed to have such a storyteller to tell it.

May it be told forever.

Tom said...

You may be parted; you are not sundered.

Nalo said...

Spider, I'll remember forever the generosity with which you welcomed me into the ranks. My heart is with you, and my love goes out to you and Jeannie both.

John Hedtke said...

Blessings, old bean. I grieve for her loss. I am happy to have seen her on several occasions in years gone by and seen the never-ending limmerant glow the two of you carried for each other.

I wish her a safe journey and wish you that you will be able to find her again.

Neil_in_Chicago said...

(It took me a couple of days to find where to post my condolences.)

The traditional Jewish phrasing, "her memory for a blessing", seems especially appropriate. All things pass, but the blessing of her memory will be with us for a long time.

(And whenever it's convenient for you to get to Chicago, we'd love to have you.)

Keith Karabin said...

Spider, I've always loved your work--and shared it with my wife. My heart goes out to you and your family. Our prayers as well, if you'll have them.


Unknown said...

Spider, you and Jeanne gave me hope, and always will.

To Jeanne.

appleblossombeck said...

As I finished reading this to my husband, it started to rain gently and thunder.

Our love and thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. As a woman and a person, who never even met her, I owe Jeanne so much. It is a delightful burden that I am honored to carry.

Unknown said...

We are blessed to have shared the same world, though I've never met her nor thee, Spider. Yet my heart goes out to all those also grieving her passing from this life. But she continues on, both in our hearts and minds - and on her own journey. You'll meet again - with so many stories to share.

My best wishes in this time of sorrow. Take care of others and be taken care of, without grief being allowed to overshadow so many good memories.

Jinx in the Garden said...

My deepest sympathies to you both. I got to meet the two of you at the Heinlein 100 Celebration, and I was looking forward to meeting you guys again at FenCon in Dallas. It won't be the same now.

Unknown said...

You have my deepest sympathies, Spider. No words can adequately express it. And that's coming from a main who shares the writing ailment. Sometimes words fail and only feelings matter.

Anonymous said...

I am sorry, Spider. All the best to you and the rest of your family.

Elne Clare said...

Spider my condolences to you and your family.

Thank you for sharing these last moments with Jeanne on this plane. On hearing of her passing, my mind went back to Philcon2002 and attending the concert you and Jeanne gave. Together you radiated the love you share and I have treasure the brief moments I got to meet you both.

A long time Fan.

Ann of the Incredible Gift said...

My condolences to you, Spider, and to all the family and friends and fans who are missing Jeanne.

May your memories of her bring a smile to your lips.

I wanted to say so much more but the words just get jumbled. You will be in my thoughts.

Anonymous said...

Aw, shit.

I'm more sorry than I can possibly say. I think there's only one thing I can/must do... glad I got the music software installed last week.

I'll pass the result to Barnstead when it's done.

Unknown said...

Spider, the couple of times that I met you and Jeanne are among my most treasured memories.

I grieve with thee.

Anonymous said...

I'm so sorry, you must be so sad.
Now you have to start really believing the things you wrote.
Love never dies.

Stonecat said...

spider, you have work to do - I hope you realize this, there are many of us out here who love you. You are never alone, ever. Do the next thing :-)

Anonymous said...

Spider, I met you in my youth, and you gave me kind words that made me want to be a better man, it wasn't much, but a kind heart will always listen, we your fans, especially the patrons of Callahans, mary's and the Place's respectively, will honor the silence, we'll encourage a laugh, and won't ever mean to ask a snoopy question. So good luck, and lots of love, from one spirit to another, brother, we love you, and we'll cheer and raise a glass when you meet her again for the first time.
"Jack" Sean P. Harper