I think Terry Pratchett’s death finally hit home for me today. I’ve been kind of numb about it before now, but today I learned abut this proposal for GNU Terry Pratchett. And as I was commenting about it on G+ I found myself crying.
Here’s a very slightly improved version of what I said on G+. I don’t think I knew Terry well enough to give him the tribute he really deserved, so this will have to do.
What – you think Terry would want us to increase the clacks overhead on his behalf? No, no; I don’t claim to have been a really close friend of his, but I knew him for enough years and through enough conversation to object that that wasn’t like him at all.
IMO, the proper tribute is to keep his name not in excess and useless reply headers but in our hearts, thoughts, and actions.
Remember how human he was. How his comedy mellowed and broadened into deep wisdom. How he laughed at humanity’s foibles without descending into bitterness. Everything he wrote celebrated intelligence and kindness. So should we.
Fuck, I’m tearing up. Dammit, I miss him. It sucks that I’ll never get to teach him pistol 102. I will remember to the end of my life the way that his reserve cracked a little when I gave him his “hacker” ribbon at Penguicon 2003 – how the child who’d been told he couldn’t be a programmer because he was “no good at maths” felt on finally knowing, all the way down, that we accepted him as one of our own.
Because Terry loved us. He loved everybody, most of the time, but he loved the people of the clacks especially. We were one of his roads not taken, and he (rightly!) saw himself in our earnestness and intelligence and introversion and determined naivete and skewed sense of humor and urge to tinker. It mattered to him that we loved him, and in the unlikely event there’s an afterlife it will matter to him still.
So don’t forget Terry, not ever. Because if we showed him what he could have been, he showed us what we can be. Wiser. Funnier. Unafraid of hard truths, but gentle in our use of them. To remember him as he deserves, become better than you are.