My old friend Phyllis Eisenstein died on December 7, in Chicago. The cause of death, I am told, was Covid-19, but Phyllis had been hospitalized for most of the year, following a cerebral hemorrhage last January.
I have been trying to write a memorial to her since her passing… trying, and struggling with it. The holidays interfered, as they will, and of course I have so much on my plate… but mainly it was just hard. There was so much to say, and it seemed that only days had passed since I wrote about the deaths of Kay McCauley and then Ben Bova. Each one of those was a blow, and coming so soon one after the other… I confess, it left me in a dark place. The closer you are to someone, the harder it is to do justice to their memory. And Phyllis and I were close.
My old friend, I said… and damn, but that is true. I had known Phyl for half a century, I’ve realized, looking back. We first met in Boston in 1971, at Noreascon I, the first worldcon I ever attended. She was working the SFWA table at the con, greeting members and telling them about SFWA… a volunteer, giving of her time and effort to help out. Phyllis did a lot of that; she had a generous soul. I had only sold two stories when I turned up at Noreason and I was not yet qualified to join SFWA. I had only attended one previous sf con, so I knew almost no one at worldcon… but Phyllis was warm and friendly, and I spent a lot of the con hanging around her at the table, and she introduced me to other writers, editors, artists, all sorts of people. Phyllis, and her husband Alex, had been a part of fandom for a long time, and she seemed to know everyone.
I mean to write about all that, and more, but I also wanted to say something about her work, for Phyllis Eisenstein was a gifted and accomplished writer, one who never got the attention that I think that she deserved. There’s a lot to say about that as well. And I will.
The days have been flying by, though, and the demands on me have been building, and finally I concluded it was better to post this short notice than say nothing at all. I will return to Phyllis and write her a much longer memorial, I promise… when I can. Soon, I hope.
There has been too much death. Phyl is the third friend I lost in the last two months of 2020, that most dismal of years. And three other friends, people very near and dear to me, are struggling with very grave health issues even now. It seems there is darkness everywhere. The COVID death count keeps rising, there are fascists in the streets; the best lack all conviction, the worst are full of passionate intensity, and Kay and Ben and Phyl are all gone.
Be well, my friends.
Current Mood: sad