I met Jay Lake on livejournal. He started blogging in 2004 and you can go back and start reading it there. LJ is a much more personal blogging platform than Facebook or Twitter and I felt that I really got to know Jay through his frequent entries. He was a very popular blogger and in 2008 when he was first diagnosed with cancer he made the decision to bring all of us along with him in a series of extraordinarily honest journal entries that continued right up to his death last week. I hope someone collects these into a book, and knowing Jay, I can’t imagine that he hasn’t already thought of it.
Clickenzee to remember.
His openness about his fight was one of the most remarkable things about Jay, the fact that he let us know that he was not
ok with dying, that he was afraid was all a part of his invitation, his request even, that we come along with him. He took us all on an extremely difficult journey in a way that I don’t know anybody has ever done before. He never vanished from the story he was telling, he told it as long as he was physically able and we are all the richer for having been able to witness it.
I photographed the cover of his amazing book The Specific Gravity of Grief
in which he writes eloquently about a fictional author dying of cancer and brings into it his own experience. He wanted people to know how much it hurt, and he also showed me a jar which contained a Dorito shaped wedge of his lung that doctors had just cut out.
He wanted me to photograph him getting up out of the bed, because it hurt an awful lot to do that and he wanted people to know that it hurt and to be able to see it on his face. He didn’t internalize his suffering to shield us, because he wanted us to know what was happening.
There were a number of remarkable things about Jay Lake, one was this gift, if you can call it that, of wanting to share this journey, and the other was his gregariousness. He was surrounded by people who loved and cared for him, and people upon whom he depended and who depended on him.
What I learned from Jay is that there are ways to deal with the inevitable. He held his funeral in advance so that he could attend it
, he took time out to visit with people and, as much as possible, make the spectacle of his death into a party, but all that time he never pretended it was a party he was okay with throwing, he threw it because the other option was to sit quietly at home and wait for night instead of dancing with friends as the sun set.
My photograph of Jay for Where I Write: Fantasy & Science Fiction Authors in Their Creative Spaces. Clickenzee to Embiggen