Farewell Terry Pratchett: May Your Ripples Ripple Long
“It is often said that before you die your life passes before your eyes. It is in fact true. It’s called living.”
I was buried deep deep in a project on Thursday and didn’t see Twitter, the news, my email or indeed any of the things that would have alerted me to the news that Terry Pratchett had died until I chanced upon Google+ in the evening. There were a lot of Terry Pratchett quotes.
“Oh no, oh no, oh no, oh no,” I breathed, knowing – but not wanting to know – what I was going to find on Twitter. Terry Pratchett was trending and for all the wrong reasons. The genius with words, beloved to so many, had died.
I wrote to Terry Pratchett once. I never in a million years expected a reply. I told him how – in some of my darkest times – his books had been a safe haven. Terry Pratchett – this man with a million things to do, a million more important tasks on his to-do list – did me the immense courtesy of responding with kind understanding. I have always appreciated that.
My grandmother met him once and had her picture taken with him at a bookstore. I was simultaneously thrilled and green with envy. Imagine my surprise when she told me she hadn’t even realised who he was until after. I, on the other hand, was an avid reader and heavily into Discworld. Oh gran! We did have to laugh – perhaps later, I don’t think I laughed much until my sulk was done! I don’t have a copy of that picture, sadly, except in my mind, where I see two people who gave me immense joy and much happiness.
“There are times in life when people must know when not to let go. Balloons are designed to teach small children this.”
The Discworld books have been a big part of my reading life for over two decades now. I’ve read many, some multiple times. They are deliciously re-readable. I was only saying to Mr B the other day that the reason for that is that every time you read one again your own new knowledge of the world enhances it. You suddenly realise that ‘Aha! That sounds like it might have been inspired by xyz historical event… ooh he’s a clever one – I missed that before’. Or you find a new gem of a quote. Or you just let the world fold over you, page by page, taking you away from this one for a time.
If the world is too sad too sleep, we are also too grateful to mourn silently. Twitter is abuzz but the sadness is full of a gratitude and warmth and appreciation that can only come when someone has given so much of themselves for so long and we are now, in chorus, coming together to say ‘Bloody hell, Terry, you did that well!’
My wine glass and my Kleenex box are both emptying but my heart is filling as I realise that the world – that so many of us have longed to escape to the Discworld in place of, if only for a few hours – is swimming in love and admiration.
‘No one is actually dead until the ripples they cause in the world die away…’
Ripple on, Sir Terry, ripple on…