• Sigrid Ellis

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    Sigrid Ellis is co-editor of the Hugo-nominated Queers Dig Time Lords and Chicks Dig Comics anthologies. She edits the best-selling Pretty Deadly from Image Comics. She is the flash-fiction editor of Queers Destroy Science Fiction, from Lightspeed Press. She edited the Hugo-nominated Apex Magazine for 2014. She lives with her partner, their two homeschooled children, her partner’s boyfriend, and a host of vertebrate and invertebrate pets in Saint Paul, MN.
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Scott Swanson

No day is good when it begins with insomnia and a splitting headache at 2:45 a.m. I called in sick to work and lay down, trying to get back to sleep. When I did get up, around 7:00, I found out that an old friend of mine had died the night before. The rest of my day was about average.

I hadn’t talked to Scott in years. The thing about a death like this — a friend who was once very close, but isn’t now — is that one isn’t mourning a present loss. One mourns the long-lost past, and the endlessly missed chances of the future.

I miss the Scott I knew. I also miss the kid I used to be. Okay, not so much, really. But they went together, that Sigrid and that Scott. He was my prom date, for pete’s sake — we got along well. I don’t miss the confusion and melodrama of being in high school and college, that’s for damn sure. And I don’t miss the headlong rushes of exhilaration that went with them. But I remember the good feelings as well as the bad, and Scott is in a lot of the good memories.

Scott was argumentative, lord, he was stubborn. But he was stubborn in the pursuit of causes, frequently causes that benefited others. I was unsurprised when I found out, some years back, that he’d spent much of his adult life mentoring others. That he continually found himself on advisory boards or in leadership positions. The man never could shut up, not until everyone in the room understood his point.

In the Dungeons & Dragons campaign we played in for, oh, three or four years? Scott was the paladin. Stubborn, goal-oriented, certain of his path unless he was in the midst of a crisis of faith, brow-beating of others, profoundly empathetic and compassionate — Scott continually over-reached himself in an effort to bring about the world he saw in his dreams.

He over-reached his abilities, sometimes. He over-reached the capacity of those he worked with, pushed until he occasionally pushed people away. He over-reached and exceeded his body countless times, defying the childhood predictions of early death given to him by physicians. Yet the physical problems Scott was born with did not lead him to bitterness.

Anger, certainly. Frustration. But that anger and frustration led to action, not a soul-destroying rancor. Scott didn’t blame anyone for his organs that never worked right, not for more than a few hours of vented fear. He simply set out to made full use of the time available to him. He chose the regrets of action, not the regrets of never-did and never-was.

Imperfect in body, imperfect in temperament, imperfect in action, as we all are, Scott didn’t strive for perfection. He strove for One More Thing. One more day, one more student mentored, one more grant raised, one more friend seen, one more project sparked. Imperfect, yet hurtling onward.

Scott’s motion has come to a rest. It hasn’t been a presence in my life in some time, but I miss it all the same.

7 Responses

  1. Wow, Sigrid. Very beautifully written. Although I did not know him well, you captured Scott as I remember him as well.

  2. As usual, you’ve found the words to say what I wanted to, so much better than I could have.

    There’s already a gathering in the works for Saturday at IMSA – details on FB.

  3. Gosh I am so sorry to hear of Scott’s death. I saw the earlier reference to it but didn’t connect with the Scott I only heard of through you. I remember the prom photo. And as always I am so touched by your writing. Love you tons, Mom

  4. Thank you for this.

  5. Sigrid,

    I didn’t know Scott well, and in fact, now feel very cheated by the small, exclusive circles we inhabit in high school. Because you were close and wrote such a nice piece, I just wanted to say,”Thanks. Well Done.”

    Your paragraph about him not looking for perfection, but just to help one more student or get one more grant really paints the picture of the man that touched so many. His example is inspiring and I have thought about him many times over the past 2 weeks. I will continue to think of him when I need inspiration!

  6. @Susan I know what you mean about the circles — I mean, I don’t *recognize* half the people in my yearbook.

  7. I’m glad I found your blog. I was friends with Scott in NYC and really bummed to hear about his passing. He was a good guy. Here’s a post I put together about our time together:

    http://alienintheheights.wordpress.com/2010/01/12/remembering-scott/

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