This is Jim Crider. He died on Tuesday.
I was a dirtbag teenager. I did dirtbag things. I didn’t get better until my mid-20s. Jim was my friend anyway.
I never met Jim in person. We knew each other through GEnie, which was an online service. We were both heavily active on what was called SFRT, the Science Fiction Roundtable. His handle was AUTOJIM, and mine was ONALARK and we would talk for hours along with other SF fans. We hung out in the Mercedes Lackey subgroup and in online chats. He also did admin work on an automobile forum, and would sign off early because he was in Michigan and he worked for Ford. I was living in California. His was one of the voices I always looked for, his “phosphors” as we said back then.
I remember famously he called me out when the Ford I was driving back from ComicCon with my magazine’s editor lost its serpentine belt somewhere between Bakersfield and Fresno. I argued with him that the goddamn thing had been serviced right before we left on the drive down from San Francisco to San Diego, he told me in no uncertain terms that there was no way that thing would break unless we hadn’t been treating it right. I was a teenage dirtbag and probably taunted him for having blue ovals on his paycheck and letting that color his opinion. He knew I was a teenage dirtbag who didn’t know jack shit about cars and we left it at that.
When everything went to the Web, and eventually social networks, some of the virtual rafts we all floated on drifted apart, and yet somehow I found Jim again. We friended and tweeted and DM’d. I got married. He met Kim, who he loved dearly and would later marry. We exchanged snippets of life. Jim listened while I ranted about work bullshit. We talked about meeting up at a convention someday.
I had a baby. I had another baby. Jim was diagnosed with stage IV colon cancer. Covid rolled like an avalanche over all our lives.
And after over five years of Jim fighting cancer, Jim beating the odds, Jim being frank about what cancer had done to him, cancer won. He went home to die on his own terms.
I have been intermittently crying throughout the week. I’m crying now. Jim was honest, kind, an ally, a good human, an open ear. He loved Kim. He loved cars. He loved science fiction and so many things. And he was such a good person.
I’m just one small molecule who was part of his life. I barely register. And yet even I could see that.
Remember Jim tonight. Not many like him. He was the best of us.
May his phosphors never fade.