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RIP: Ericka Johnson

Okay, by the time this is over, it's going to be the oddest memorial post I've ever made. But apart from that opening sentence, I'll start on all-too-familiar ground. Minneapolis fan Ericka Johnson died peacefully Saturday evening. My heart and sympathy are with Peter Hentges and with Ericka's other loved ones and friends near and far.

I'm not yet ready to talk at any length about my memories of Ericka, about the beginnings of friendship we shared back in the 1980s. Or about how I failed to be the friend I wanted to be after COPD and related disabilities severely limited her ability to be out and about at the same time I didn't make time to remain an active part of her life. I contributed to the isolation that so often comes with disability instead of moving into the circle of friends and loved ones who surmounted it, something I've always regretted...and never did much of anything to change or fix. Limits. Failings. Mixed up with admiration, love, and caring -- for Ericka, for Peter, for Ctein, for Catherine Crockett, for everyone who did the very things I wish I had.

I think Ericka was still able to come to Minicon back in the 1990s when we had the Oobleck in the Bathtub in the Minneapolis in '73 suite, though I know her mobility was too limited to dance on it even then. What I know for certain is that she would have gotten a kick out of the following video and that Peter will, too, if he sees this.

We so live in the future. While Greg Cotton may well not have been the first person in the world to both think of and investigate the possibilities of large-scale oobleck, it also wouldn't surprise me to somehow discover that he was. A few decades later, they're making bank commercials in Malaysia celebrating the wondrous possibilities of my favorite non-Newtonian fluid. I can all but hear Ericka's chuckle, and I know she would have had an observant, insightful comment to deepen the experience of sharing it with her.

RIP, Erica. You were a blessing in this world and your memory will be a blessing for many long after grief has run its course.

Edited to add: I think I've successfully muted the sound so pnh and others whose browsers auto-play embedded videos won't be blasted by it. At least, that's how it's working here when I view it in different browsers. Fingers crossed for luck on that, combined with this note to let folks know it's not a silent video and to adjust the sound slider if you want to hear it. And many thanks to Marc Abrahams and the Improbable Research website for bringing the video to my attention.


( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 12th, 2014 09:07 am (UTC)
I haven't seen her in many years, and I will miss her. Thanks for your tribute.
Jan. 13th, 2014 05:30 am (UTC)
Thank you for this.
Jan. 24th, 2014 08:12 pm (UTC)
My dear sweet, giving friend Geri
*hugs* to you Geri. Those regrets are sad, as is the regularity with which we lose friends. An amazingly honest post, though knowing what a giving person you are I'm almost certain you are being hard on yourself. Being there for everyone is a hard thing to do in reality, and judging oneself is so very easy. It's not like life has been simple for you, all paved with gold and such. More, I found that at times in my life when I was there for everyone else I was not being there for myself. In fact I later came to see this as an utter betrayal of myself. One is left with regrets either way. Your giving nature is very plugged in to groups and breaking out of that would also take you away from the things that feed the very essence of who you are. There are no easy answers. Most likely your regrets here are valid, as we givers wish for the omnipotence of being there for everyone, but equally valid are the decisions you make for your own sanity.

Be gentle with yourself, dear friend. Mourn this lovely woman, remember the good times, regret the failures, but allow that you might just have been doing the best you could.
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )


Geri 2014
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