It was ill-conceived, I suppose, now that I think of it, a serene and glorious long weekend signing books and rubbing elbows with those I knew, those I hoped to meet and utter strangers at PantheaCon 2011. After all, what could be simpler...riding up with and spending the weekend with two of my dearest friends? Linda I have known for nearly half my life; her husband Peter, my wonderful publisher, for nearly two decades. And then, on the verge of packing, on the verge of having another dear friend house sit and look after the adorable kittens, Peter fell ill, ill enough to land him in hospital.
Of course we were concerned. All the scenarios we had been through up to this point had not made any room for illness, any shadow of a possibility that we would not be going, and above all for the fact that there was a potentially serious set of conditions affecting two such dear and wonderful friends. And so we visited him in that utterly impersonal and dreary cubicle where he lay in pain, praying, hoping, knowing he would be well, and quickly too. At first there was a chance, a thought, a dream, a flicker of a hope that miracle drugs were indeed miracles and that he would be well enough in hours, even in a couple of days, and that we would all have a fabulous weekend together in San Jose...but soon the hard truth of the matter that such things took time became starkly evident and we realised such things were not to be.
What did happen was we realised several things about ourselves. We are a resilient lot who care deeply for one another, and this resilience has made us strong in both our friendship and in our lives in general. When things go awry, we know we have each other to turn to. We have also once more had a close encounter with our own mortality and the fact that no matter how we live our lives and how positive we may be in our thinking, sometimes we are not the boss of us. Sometimes there are outside Forces which knock us up beside the head and say "No, you may not," and it may be for a really good reason. The weather this weekend was wild, to say the least. Road conditions were unsavoury. None of us would have wanted to be a statistic.
Peter is now home, on the mend, well on his way to total recovery. I rediscovered and was delighted to help him and Linda discover the joys of one of Johnny Depp's priceless gems, "Don Juan De Marco" which we watched on DVD this evening. The world is turning as it should be, though not as we had expected. We are alive, fairly well, and warm and dry in the crazy inclement weather which lashes out around us.
PantheaCon 2012 will be all the sweeter for having to wait for it. Meanwhile, life is what we make of it.
Life is good.