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In Memoriam, Reesa Brown

Posted in Life, and Other Writing

I learned via Twitter that Reesa Brown died yesterday, January 12, 2012. Reesa was the woman with whom I shared my longest relationship — 5 years. She died after a long battle with cancer, leaving behind a husband and two children including a girl less than a year old.

Reesa Brown and Kit O'Connell at Fourth Street Fantasy Convention 2008 in Minneapolis, MN. Photo by DDB.

She had left my life before any of this happened. We dated from 2005 until when we broke up at the beginning of 2009. The years we spent together were some of the must frustrating, inspiring, painful and stimulating years of my life. For all that we struggled with openness at the end, it was my first successful, lasting polyamorous relationship. More than any other lover I’d had before, she helped me reawaken and embrace myself as a writer, an editor, and a hedonist. She supported me in my lifelong goal of remaining child-free and getting a vasectomy, a decision I have never regretted, and often been thankful for — especially since she also helped me stop hating other people’s kids and learn to enjoy (some of) them.

With her other partner from that time, fellow writer Steven Brust (another addition to our household a few years after we met), we created a large and loving poly network. I still sometimes miss the best times we had together in that lost extended family. Not only that, but we made a household that was fertile with words.

She held diverse array of careers from business manager to body piercer over her life but, most of all to me, Reesa Brown was a damn fine writer. She created vivid, complex, and creative characters and spun equally vivid imagery into her work. We co-authored what is, so far, the only paper I’ve published in the proceedings of an academic conference: “What is the 21st Century Novel?” for Arse Elektronika 2008.

Hair jewelry from another world, designed by Gaelsha.

With Steve, we also collaborated on the Continuous Coast project. Though that project never reached the heights we hoped, it was some of the most exciting collaboration I have ever done. From time to time I still remind myself that I once helped create a world so compelling, people invented physical artifacts from jewelry to tableware to go with it. The ideas we shaped together continue to strongly influence my writing today, and CC’s vision of a sex-positive, post-scarcity society continues to shape both my politics and my worldview.

I grieve for all the words she’ll never get a chance to write. I’ll never be able to visit a bookstore and buy her unfinished novel about the first whorehouse in space. I’ll never get to read any of the other amazing, weird ideas she might have had in her last days, or would have had if her days had gone on longer.

I grieve for the fact that we’ll never talk again. Perhaps someday it would have been possible for us both to look back on our time together, troubled as it was, and focus on the many positives of it. Now that cannot be.

And of course, I grieve for her family, especially the two children she left behind and her husband Nathaniel Eliot who now must raise them without their mother.

Reesa will be missed. I hope, if anything, her death can inspire other writers — like me — to get our words out while we can. Of course, the tragedy is that we probably always die with art left unmade.