February 09, 2015
Melanie Tem, my wife of 35 years, passed away today. As some of you know, the breast cancer she had in 1997 recurred a couple of years ago, eventually metastasizing to her skeleton, bone marrow, and various organs. I deeply appreciate the love and support we’ve received from people since sharing the news. Life the past few weeks has been like running through a burning building.
She was a writer, an oral storyteller, a teacher, a social worker, a mother and grandmother, my best friend, the love of my life. She received the Bram Stoker, International Horror Guild, British Fantasy, and World Fantasy Awards for her writing, which included almost a hundred short stories, twelve solo novels, and numerous plays, poems, and storytelling performances. Among her novels: Prodigal, Wilding, Revenant, The Yellow Wood (her latest, just out from ChiZine), and Black River, a fictional exploration of grief as a hero’s journey. As a social worker and administrator she worked for the elderly, the disabled, and adoptive children and parents. A speech of hers on unconditional commitment is still used in parts of the country in the training of prospective adoptive parents.
I met Melanie at an extremely dark and lonely time in my life. Our life together was about writing and literature, art and music, children and grandchildren, good humor, and our love for each other. More than anyone I’ve ever known she was committed to good works and trying to do the right thing, and at a time when people are deeply divided over religion and politics she always tried to respect other people’s beliefs and opinions even when she didn’t understand them. I learned from her that even at its worst life is infinitely interesting, a lesson that got me through the death of our son Anthony in 1988, and which we wrote about in The Man on the Ceiling. I believe that lesson will get me through the days to come. But for now I am disassembled, and waiting to see if the pieces will fall back together in some semblance of what was there before. If I should owe you some communication I apologize, but the many quiet hours ahead of me are not only unavoidable, but necessary.