Yesterday evening we had the infinite pleasure to assist the Terry Pratchett memorial at the Barbican Theatre (London).
A very selective event, kept very hush-hush, but magical nonetheless. We cried as much as we laughed through the nearly 3 hours the celebration went on for. There was a choir, and Steele Eye Span played a few songs, as Terry liked them very much and was friends with them. Stephen Briggs welcomed us all while impersonating Lord Vetinari. Rob Wilkins was more than a host or presenter; he acted like a dear friend to the audience, sharing experiences, comments and anecdotes from his time with Terry. Many of the author’s friends came to the stage: publishers, editors, colleagues, it was a wholesome symphony of praise, respect and love for one of Britain’s most popular and beloved writers. Everyone had kind words for him not only as a professional, but as a person. Rhianna Pratchett came to the stage to share her memories of him as a father, privilege she has only amongst anyone.
I could not help but feel that, despite I never met him – for by the time I came to the UK his illness was advanced, and I did not have the chance to go to a book signing or a convention – I somehow knew him, as a mentor, as a role model. As an inspiring figure, with all his complexities. I guess all these emotions became much more real when Neil Gaiman entered the scene and proceeded to read a piece I already knew – his introduction to A Slip of the Keyboard. I knew the piece, almost by heart. But I had only read it, I hadn’t been told it. Suddenly these words, that I thought I comprehended, took new real meanings. An overwhelming emotional wave took me by surprise – I don’t think I have recovered quite yet; I could hardly go to sleep last night after that.
We saw the clips from the documentaries. We embraced the news of what his heritage would become, and although I am glad Rob, Rhianna and the rest will forever take the best care of it, I couldn’t help but get passed the fact that he was gone. But this time it was different. After his passing last year, I felt the world was coming to an end – let’s remember that Sir Christopher Lee did also leave this world in 2015 and I felt my world of dragons and magic was succumbing to dark forces. I noticed a particular inclination towards science fiction, when I have always been more on the fantasy side of things, like if I was hoping to find a new refuge. I even stopped writing fiction, could not overcome my writers block. I thought this lingering would take years to end, until yesterday. Yes, he was gone, but no, it was not all lost. Sir Terry Pratchett was in fact only leaving early to avoid the rush, he was with his friends, and creations, not upset, but very much in peace and waiting. Waiting for others to follow his steps, to pick up from where he left it, for later on to reunite and see the world changed. Or at least some of us. This was merely an invitation to hold control over our lives, and never give up our dreams and hopes. To remember that everything is possible with a little bit of magic – and brains – but mostly courage.
So here I now find my own peace, while I grab the graphic novel adaptation of the Colour of Magic that I have been avoiding for months. As I open the pages I remember that feeling when I open Mort for the first time after my father gave it to me for reading it at class, to little 11-year-old me. And thus I smile, for this is not a good-bye. Just merely a C U Later.