Today I am overcome with sadness as I sit in my San Diego office, rain drizzling from the skies and white caps forming on the pool and the bay beyond. The seasons pass, and with them so do dear friends. Poet and anthologist Lee Bennett Hopkins and I had this conversation some time ago–that we have reached an age when many of our contemporaries, friends, and colleagues are slipping away–slipping off the raft, as I like to think of it. Last weekend brought news of yet another, this one part of my writers’ group, the Blind Orphan Ponies (BOP, for short). She had lived longer than her doctors suggested she would when first diagnosed with a rare cancer. To aid research, she’d volunteered to take part in experimental treatments, which prolonged her life and, perhaps, advanced science. And to see her, to go to lunch with her, to chat with her, you would never have known anything was amiss were it not for the small medical port in her arm. She was upbeat, positive, grateful (and gracious) throughout these last several years. Never a complaint. She had given up writing to focus on her treatments, but she told me she missed her time in solitude at the keyboard. And I miss her expert, award-winning hand at YA fiction. We had planned to go to lunch this coming Saturday. Sadly, that will not be. Sunday night I opened my email to read the news of her departure. Nonetheless, the BOPs will gather as planned to celebrate her life. She would have wanted that. Another wise friend told me once that chosen family is best, and she was that–CHOSEN FAMILY. She once tucked a dollar bill into a glossy red envelope and told me it was for good luck. I have kept that envelope and its contents above my desk ever since, and good luck it has brought. Thank you, dear lady, for being an example, a guiding light, a most cherished storyteller, and a good friend. You will be missed, Jean Ferris, but the harbor is clear. Sail on. Sail on.

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