I was half an hour outside of Minneapolis last Thursday when I got a call from my youngest daughter saying that her mother, my estranged wife,  had died.  None of us had expected this.   She died of congestive heart failure.  She would have been delighted, because this meant breast cancer didn’t get her.

Her mother died of breast cancer when she was 11, which left  Reen to support her father emotionally, logistically, and often financially.  When I met her she was 16 years old and was holding a full-time job as well as managing the household accounts and seeing to her father’s medical care.  When we married, I was 18 and she was 17.  Looking back, I believe I wanted someone to take care of me the way Reen was taking care of her father–I’d been on my own for about a year, and I wasn’t especially good at it.  I believe Reen, on the other hand, wanted someone to finally take the burden off her and let her relax a bit.

Not such a good start.  All she knew of love came from “I Love Lucy” and Carrie Grant movies–and I didn’t know nearly enough to contend with that.  But we were together for 10 years, and produced four amazing children.

She created the character of Aliera, and you can still see her in it.  When I was laid off from a programming job in 1980, she told me to take six months off and write a book, so I did; that’s why Jhereg exists.  We met Bob Weir of the Grateful Dead, and Reen gave him a tarot reading, while I stood there with my mouth open.  She found my old high school manuscript of my first attempt at To Reign In Hell and made me actually write the thing.  When I became interested in music, she got behind it and pushed.  How much of what I’ve accomplished came from her?  There’s no way to know.  A lot, though.

The Reen I married was like no one else I’ve met.  Together with the solid, down-to-earth sense of responsibility, was a sense of fun, a sense of enthusiasm that I found irresistible–as did others who crossed her path.  She found people–Martin, John, Mark–and pulled them into her world because her world was so attractive, so bright, so full of profound wonder.  As she changed, and that part of her was gradually buried under health problems, pot smoke,and borderline schizophrenia, still, every once in a while it would show up and amaze anyone who was around.

We live in a world where, in addition to wonder, there are also mortgage payments, and car insurance, and medical bills, and food costs.  Over the years, she went from the one who could handle all of that, to the one who needed it handled.  I don’t understand how that happened, and I probably never will; but Martin was there, and so she and the children got what they needed.  And because of that, I was able to focus on telling stories.  Those of you reading this who enjoy my work should say, “Thank you, Martin.”  Because, without him, at best there wouldn’t be as much of it.

When we learned from the autopsy that her heart was twice the normal size, everyone had the same reaction: That’s about right. Everything about her changed over the years, often becoming its opposite.  Everything, that is, but this: she inspired love, because she gave it so willingly.  And I think, even with all that went wrong, and even with all the could-have-beens, she made those in her life better people.  At the end of the day, that’s not so little.

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Site administrative account, so probably Corwin, Felix or DD-B.

0 thoughts on “Reen”

  1. an amazingly touching entry and a great honor to one who was so influential to your life and career. warm thoughts to you and your family.

  2. I am deeply touched by your eulogy and deeply sorry for your loss, and the loss of her from the lives of so many people.

  3. This is a beautiful memorial for Reen. I was sad to hear of this loss to you and your wonderful children when I read it on your son’s twitter. I am glad at least you could be together in the aftermath of this.

  4. My condolences. She let you take 6 months out to write a book? That’s pretty classy. Many thanks and much respect.

  5. Very sorry for your loss and your children’s loss. The eulogy was beautiful and moving.

  6. Many blessings on your family as they adjust to this loss…and my love to you. Call if you need me, but I suspect you are as surrounded by support as I could possibly wish for you. Thank you for sharing these thoughts of her with us.

  7. I’m sorry to hear of your loss, but grateful that cancer didn’t get her. Agreed with the others, an amazing eulogy that filled in some gaps in my understanding of how the programmer became the author. You painted a spare but vibrant picture of someone I’ve never met. Roger would be proud.

  8. I don’t know if I ever got to meet her, but now I feel a little like I have. Sorry for all of you up there. Much sympathy for you all.

  9. Your description of Reen has Fred Small’s “Everything Possible” running through my head: “The only measure of your words and your deeds will be the love you leave behind when you’re done.” So sorry I never knew her.

  10. What a beautiful eulogy.

    I’m so sorry for your loss, but wherever she is, I’m she’s continuing to inspire…

  11. A touching eulogy, and she will live on in the minds of her family, friends, and those whose lives she touched directly and indirectly. My best wishes to all of those who mourn her.

  12. My condolences to you, your children, Martin, and to everyone else who was fortunate enough to be in Reen’s life.

  13. Beautifully written, good sir. Deepest condolences to you and your children, and thank you for sharing your memories.

  14. I’m sorry for your loss, but it’s wonderful she left such a beautiful legacy. That will live forever.

  15. My condolences to you and your family, Steve. Thank you for sharing that family history with us.

  16. Thanks for sharing, I raised an Ardbeg to her last night. Thank you Reen for helping Steven become who he is, and thank you Martin for being the glue. Hugs to you and Corwin and the girls.

  17. Thank you for this. When I first met Reen I was very impressed with how involved she was with the Mnstf/Minicon community, her children and her friends.

    As a somewhat solitary artistic sort, I felt that I had something to learn from her about involvement and community. She will be deeply missed by the great many of us whose lives she’s touched.

  18. I can’t add any further value to the previous 34 comments.

    I’m grateful to likes of Reen and Martin in contributing to who you are today.

    Condolences to you, your kids and everyone else who was a part of her life.

  19. Deep condolences,sorrow and sympathy for your, and your daughters’ loss, from the both of us.

  20. Deep condolences,sorrow and sympathy for your, and your daughters’ loss, from the both of us.

  21. Deep condolences,sorrow and sympathy for your, and your daughters’ loss, from the both of us.

  22. Deep condolences,sorrow and sympathy for your, and your daughters’ loss, from the both of us.

  23. Condolences to you and your family. This was such a loving, beautifully written memorial — thank you for sharing.

  24. Sounds like someone I wish I had been able to get to know. My thoughts are with you and your family. Please call if there’s anything I can do.

  25. Just want to express my sympathy. I know words are inadequate in the face of this kind of loss, but please accept my sincere condolences for you and your family.

  26. I am sorry for your loss. My condolences to you and your family. Because of Reen’s effect on your writing I can say, too, that she was a part of my world and she made it better. I am grateful for such a vibrant woman’s life.

    God bless

  27. And I thought you could use a laugh LAST week. I know you have a huge support system of family and “family” in the Twin Cities, and at least one of those families needs your support right now as well. If for any reason you feel a short break might help keep you grounded, though, let me know.

  28. Thank-you for sharing your deeply personal eulogy. You seem to have many wonderful memories and experiences from having had such an inspirational person in your lives. I hope the good memories ricochet on and on and on to give you all comfort. Blessings to Reen, to you and to your loved ones.

  29. Condolences to you and your kids. I’m sure grateful that Reen gave you those six months. Re-reading Jhereg right now … hearing about her loss makes it all the more vivid.

  30. My best to your family, and my condolences to you and you and yours. May your grief ease in due time, and may your memories of her keep you in good health.

    Thank you, Reen; and thank you Martin. We’ve all enjoyed the books.

  31. My condolences to you and your family. I appreciate you sharing a bit about a person who was so important in your life. And thank you Martin.

  32. My sincerest condolences to you and your children. Words alone can never heal but perhaps they can help.

  33. Very sorry to hear that, Steve – my thoughts go out to you, your children & the rest of Reen’s family.

  34. Condolences to you and your family, and my thanks to Reen for encouraging your talent and making possible books that so many of us have enjoyed immensely. My thoughts are with you.

  35. Steve, I’m terribly sorry for your loss. You know, we never really fall out of love with the mother of our children, and I can only imagine how deeply this unexpected loss will affect you. But you’ve given her a classy, respectful, and loving eulogy here, one you can be proud of.

  36. I don’t stop in here nearly enough, but thought that was a beautiful tribute to the woman who was such a big part of how you evolved.

    Condolences for your loss and the loss your family feels. I have to echo the others on here and marvel at the tiny things which push one human being to create such intensely wonderous characters and worlds that your six months off did.

    It blows me away to think that one person in your life allowed for the countless hours of reading pleasure I’ve had, and for that I am also indebted to Reen.

    Thank you for sharing this tribute with us, Steven. My heart goes out to you.

  37. Holidays are always hard after a loss. Hope you had a good Thanksgiving with friends and loved ones and shared blessed memories of those who are gone.

  38. I only just saw this. May her memory be a blessing.

    And now I have to go visit my dear Rene (rhymes with Houdini even though it looks like it would be Reen or Renée) in the hospital. I hope to be bringing her home soon.

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