How do you say goodbye to a loving friend you've never met? Diana Wynne Jones and Brian Jacques were friends of mine, but I never met them. Never said hello or gave them a welcoming hug, but they were friends nonetheless.
I remember when I first met Brian Jacques. It was in 1988. My younger son was 10 years old and we found a book called "Redwall". It was mis-shelved in the adult fantasy section of the library and the idea of warrior woodland creatures and a fantastical abbey in the forest was just too delectible to leave there. So we checked it out. Over the next two weeks at bedtime, there we were, my son in his pajamas and me sitting on the edge of his bed, learning to know Brian Jacques and his wonderful world.
A lot of years have passed, and my son has children of his own, but I haven't let that stop me. On February 5 of this year I was checking to see if, by chance, there was a new Redwall adventure for me to read. There is! It won't be released until May, but there's a whole new adventure for me! Then, minutes later, I learned of the passing of Brian Jacques. I grieve for the silencing of Mossflower Wood and the stilling of the great bells at Redwall Abbey. Its a sad thing when a never-met friend passes. But its also a wonderful thing that he touched our lives.
Not quite two months later, as I thought of books to buy for a grandchild, I was stunned to hear that another old friend had passed on. The creative and lovely Diana Wynne Jones, who gave us so much is also gone from our lives. The magic she brought into our world is immortal as long as we read her books. My first introduction to her imagination came with "Howl's Moving Castle" that my son brought home and we read together. Oh, the excitement and wonder of it all! And both of us enjoyed immensely the stories of magic in our own slightly changed world happening in the Chrestomanci stories. To take something familiar and change it just a bit to make it magical and wondrous was such a gift. I am so glad that Ms. Jones wrote such books and gave us such sights to see with our mind's eyes.
The world was honored by the presence of two such wonderful people, and we who heard their stories were forever changed by them.