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My Memories of LK Madigan

The only thing I can think to do is write in this space about Lisa, since it was here, on LiveJournal, that I first got to know her.  Except there really aren’t adequate words at a time like this; or at least I’m not a good enough writer to be able to find them.

As many of you know, the inimitable Lisa, aka LK Madigan, died this morning.  She wrote this graceful, brave post just a few weeks ago.  I’ve been thinking of her everyday since. 

We weren’t close friends – just mainly LJ pals, and on Facebook, and on Twitter.  We emailed a few times, too.  I didn’t even know her real last name, but I did get to meet her in person once.  I was in the Bay Area to visit my dad and grandmother.  One night writer friends Debbie Duncan and Heidi Kling invited me to go to a Not Your Mother’s Book Club event, featuring a few authors whose books I’d read before … and a couple I had not.  One of the latter was LK Madigan.  My childhood babysitter, another Lisa (I’ll call her Lisa L. for purposes of this post), also lives in the Bay Area, and I told her about the event because she now has two teenaged daughters.  She decided to meet me there with her eldest daughter, Marachel.

So there we all were – Debbie, Heidi, Marachel, Lisa L., and me.  And lots more people in the audience.  The place was fairly packed.  The authors read from their books.  Lisa read the funniest passage from her debut novel, FLASH BURNOUT, and she talked a little bit about the book that would be coming next, THE MERMAID’S MIRROR.  Marachel squeezed my hand when she heard about the mermaid book – for years, basically since Marachel could talk, she has had fantasies about being a mermaid.  “I wish I could get that book now!” she said.

After all the readings, and the question and answer period, I brought Marachel up with me to meet the authors.  Lisa signed copies of FLASH BURNOUT for us.  (I’m staring at the binding of my copy right now, as I write this.  It’s on the shelf beside my bed, where I keep the signed copies of my friends’ books.)  I introduced her to Marachel, and told her that she already had a #1 fan for her second book.  Marachel blushed, embarrassed, and wouldn’t pose for a picture.  I didn’t push it, and I regret that now.  I would love to have that picture.  “I’ll send you a copy,” Lisa promised.  

Afterwards, Marachel and her mom left, and a bunch of us went out to dinner with the authors who’d been on the panel.  I was sitting next to Debbie and Allen Zadoff.  I remember talking to Lisa about what to order, but I can’t remember if we spoke about anything else.  There were a lot of people there.  Another regret:  I didn’t pay enough attention.

About six months later I got an email from Lisa asking for the name and address of my young friend who loved mermaids, because she wanted to set aside one of her author copies for her.

I couldn’t believe Lisa remembered.  I mean, really, months had passed.  It was just a two minute conversation, at a reading that had been jam-packed.  She was traveling, and I’m sure she had other things on her mind that day.  Then she went home to her family, her friends.  She was promoting her book, she won the Morris Award.  And still, after all that, she remembered.  I wrote her back with Marachel’s contact info, and said she really didn’t have to send a copy.  We could buy one.  (“Ah! Marachel!” she replied.  “I knew that it was a lovely name starting with Mar.”)  Lisa insisted on sending a copy; she’d promised, after all. 

And she did send one, and Marachel loved it.  Of course.  But it was more than that, too:  Marachel felt so special getting it in the mail.  I had told her about FLASH BURNOUT winning the Morris Award, so now she was getting a package from an award-winning author, who remembered her love of mermaids, and wanted her to have a copy of the book.  What kindness!

I didn’t know Lisa well, so I can only imagine all the stories her friends have of her – of her wit and grace and generosity.  There aren’t adequate words to describe all that was lost this morning. 

And yet, thankfully, her words endure.

Comments

( 11 comments — Leave a comment )
michelle_oneil
Feb. 24th, 2011 12:45 pm (UTC)
Courtney, this is a beautiful, beautiful tribute. I hope you send it to Lisa's family. What a very gorgeous person you describe. I'll be looking at the world with more reverence today. Thank you.
courtneywrites
Feb. 24th, 2011 05:10 pm (UTC)
Thanks, Michelle. I wish I'd had the chance to know her better.
mjdiem
Feb. 24th, 2011 01:15 pm (UTC)
Lovely post, thanks so much.
courtneywrites
Feb. 24th, 2011 05:10 pm (UTC)
Thanks for reading.
jgurtler
Feb. 24th, 2011 03:17 pm (UTC)
That's such a wonderful story and a great example of Lisa's kindness.
courtneywrites
Feb. 24th, 2011 05:11 pm (UTC)
I've heard so many more examples over the last day.
aprilhenry
Feb. 24th, 2011 03:31 pm (UTC)
I have heard many tales of her generosity, all done in private.
courtneywrites
Feb. 24th, 2011 05:12 pm (UTC)
Oh, April, my love & sympathy to you on the loss of your friend. I feel lucky that I got to meet her.
boothyisawesome
Feb. 24th, 2011 04:15 pm (UTC)
What a wonderful story! I didn't know her that well either and also only met her once for probably a period of less than 10 minutes but I was thrilled to have met her. I wrote a little bit on my blog about her today- http://bookchicclub.blogspot.com/2011/02/rip-lk-madigan.html
courtneywrites
Feb. 24th, 2011 05:12 pm (UTC)
Hi James,
Thanks for reading and commenting. I loved your blog post -- and the picture.
(Anonymous)
Mar. 1st, 2011 01:32 am (UTC)
Thank You
Dear Courtney,

Thank you so very much for your kind words.

Sincerely, Neil Wolfson
( 11 comments — Leave a comment )

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