February 26th, 2008

self portrait

A smaller world

I go word earlier today that my friend Robert Aiken passed away. He had contracted an inoperable brain tumor a while back and so we all knew he was going to go some time and some time soon. I'd seen him at the holiday party for the associates of The Source and he was physically much different then.

Bob was known across large segments of my friends as "Roadkill," a name he acquired when he met his wife-to-be while wearing a coon-skin cap. There are others of you who didn't know him or, at best, only knew him in passing.

Back when Minicon was way too big for most of us, Roadkill attended in some of the most amazing costumes. He participated in the Masquerade exactly once. For Roadkill, the thrill was being seen by others and the Masquerade kept him cooped up back-stage for hours.

To many, Roadkill was too much. Too loud. Too pushy. Too opinionated. Too tattooed and pierced.

What I remember about Bob, though, was that he never did things half-way. His wedding was like a fantasy version of some Klingon ritual with Bob starring in his role as troll, complete with tusks. Hell, even his brain-tumor was exactly like Bob. Any of us might get a mole or a cancerous lump and have it excised with relatively minor trauma. Not Roadkill; if he was going to have a tumor, it was going to be in the brain and it was going to be inoperable. There was no other way to do it.

While I count Bob as a friend, I can't say that I was a good friend to him. We were friendly and we'd shared some good times, but we'd also drifted apart a bit. Some of that is due to my general drifting from my social contacts due to my other responsibilities but most of it is just that it's hard for me to be in the presence of someone like Bob for too long. He filled up his existence, seeming to burst out of his skin whenever he moved or spoke or just got that look in his eyes. When the word of his illness spread, his friends raised thousands of dollars to send him on a last road-trip to Dinsneyworld. They gathered to help remodel his house to allow him to live there as long as possible.

The world is poorer today and it won't see the likes of Bob any time soon. It will be a world that's a little bit smaller and it will likely take two or three people like me to fill it back up.