Happy Birthday

Kage Baker was born on June 10. In 1952. Today she would have been 59. Now, that’s fantasy for you. No one ever expects to get that old or imagines what it will feel like – at least, no one who remembers her 10th birthday. Or her 16th. Or her 21st.

Kage remembered them all. She was so patently the same person she had been on all those previous birthdays, she stared through all the anniversaries of her 5th decade as if they were Carnivale masks. And behind whatever glitter, feathers and beads she chose that year, the same assessing black eyes looked out. The 5-year old who examined the world, took it apart in analysis and re-assembled it to suit her better.

Kage spent her entire life re-making the world to what she thought it should be. I suppose most people try to do that – she succeeded. In a small radius; through her books and stories and her utter refusal to live her life any way but her own. She re-designed the world around her to a more interesting, brighter, more comfortable place; a world full of exotica and eldritch wonders and adventure, where the word “boring” referred only to the gophers in the garden and shipworms.

Aside from staggering through the last year bleeding from the emotional sucking chest wound her death left in me, I miss that corruscating world in which Kage lived. I crave adventure, I crave the other universes that intersected ours on a daily basis; I miss Ermenwyr and Mendoza and The Watchful Person and the Fog King and the dozens of other people who lived in Kage’s world. I’m trying to assuage that hunger by writing about them and sharing them with you, Dear Readers – but now I finally understand why Kage rather wistfully commented that she wished someone would tell her the stories …

Her birthday last year – man, she was full of energy! She’d been diagnosed and come to terms with it; we were assaulting the gates of the medical industry trying to get someone to schedule her surgery and therapies. We had plans! She was writing, we’d found Santa Rosa plums, and we went to her favourite restaurant in Cambria – the venerable Brambles Dinner House.  Kage had Bramble martinis – fresh blackberries in Sapphire gin. It was a wonderful evening.

I gave her a Netbook for her birthday – her Buke, that fit in her purse and which she considered vital equipment for her upcoming hospital stays. She loved it; she spent her birthday evening building a custom slide show for her screen saver, and we set up our own Harrynet domestic network (named for our parrot) for all the computers we suddenly had … it have her a giggle every time she turned it on, and the Buke informed her that Harry was up and running. Which he usually was, all around the back of her chair, swinging from her braid and squeaking.

She sparkled so. Birthdays with Kage always ran on into the closest weekend; she said we’d gotten too old to do all our celebrating in one day, so festivities were extended as far as we could take them.

Last year, I was at some convention or other on her birthday. I celebrated it privately, still gobsmacked with her loss and running all over the continent on her postmortem business. This year – I dunno. Writing, certainly; probably a movie. Maybe dinner at Damon’s, the best steak in L.A. and a demented tropical ambiance; I’ll go over to the wall-wide aquarium and give the lion fish, drifting by like a beaded Handbag from Hell,  her regards. I’ll drink one of the horrid mai tais she loved, and wear the umbrella in my hair like an orchid.

Happy Birthday, kiddo. Birthdays don’t matter to you anymore, but it pleases me to mark your entry into the world. The sky was still ringing with the echo of your arrival when I stumbled into the world in your wake a year and 3 weeks later. I’m working now to see to it that your name lasts a while yet longer here. And if any of the crap they told us as kids is real, then you’re immortal now.

But I miss you. Tell your God for me that He’s a selfish bugger, and I do not forgive Him for taking you.

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Post Scriptum: the Word Press site just had a major meltdown. All the fancy fonts and design flourishes are gone, and we’re down to html code and plain straight-line frames. I must assume God didn’t care for my remarks … I don’t care. I meant what I said, and I stand by it! Send your solar flares, God! Blow winds and crack your cheeks! I survived losing Kage, and I will survive whatever you do to my writing – Kage taught me how.