Many of you who read this know Bruce Smith, a.k.a. Boo, who has been a prominent figure on a few horror message boards for the last several years. He passed away today, and I have a hole in my heart that is somehow unexpected.
I knew he was ill and that in all probability, he wouldn't be around much longer. Yet, somehow, I convinced myself that he would rally; that because he was suffering so badly, he probably felt things were more dire than they really were. Rationally, I knew better, but my heart was not prepared to accept reality.
About three years ago, Boo posted a note on the Shocklines message board about Dark Shadows: Dreams of the Dark, the novel I co-wrote with Beth Massie, saying how much he really loved it — not knowing that either Beth or I frequented the forum. Well, it wasn't long before he was picking up everything I'd ever written and sending me long missives about how much he enjoyed them. The thing about Boo is that there was never one ounce of false flattery in his words. He was my "number one fan" and made no bones about it. I became a frequent subject in his gallery of PhotoShop funnies. I sometimes felt a little embarrassed, but I never for a moment doubted Boo's good humor or his genuine affection.
For the past three years, Boo has been a part of my life. Literally, every day, he would send me a funny picture he had made or found, or drop me a note wondering how I was doing, or tell me something about his own creative aspirations. Every Monday, he'd send me a photo of a bunny and tell me, "Here's your Monday bunny." One Wednesday, he sent me a picture of a bunny piled up on top of another, with the caption, "Sometimes two Monday bunnies collide, and you have hump day."
Boo loved the Partridge Family. Know what? When I was a young 'un, I loved the Partridge Family too. So he sent me some CDs of their songs. Then, a few months back, he told me all his Partridge Family mp3's had up and vanished. So I made him a CD of all the Partridge Family music I have (which is considerable, I'll have you know), and he wrote me back to let me know that he was in seventh heaven.
The photo at the bottom of the blog is Boo's little cat, Scotty, who died of leukemia a year or so ago. Boo loved that kitty something fierce, and I felt his pain deeply when Scotty crossed the Rainbow Bridge. Boo always wanted to hear about the antics of my own critters—Chester, Dusty, and Frasier. When our dear little Charcoal passed away last year, Boo sent me deep words of comfort because he knew exactly how much grief I felt.
Boo was a man of compassion and humor. In a world of cynicism and bitterness, his soul always seemed "innocent" to me. He felt things deeply, and he occasionally confided to me the hurt he felt when people spoke ill of him — usually because of a misunderstanding. Sometimes, I think he didn't quite know how to deal with people whose cynicism was alien to him. He sometimes retreated in depression, but he always bounced back, and he tried so hard to be someone that people would admire, rather than condemn because they failed to comprehend his heart.
I have always admired my friend Boo. I miss him so much. The hole in my heart is wide, and it's bleeding. But that's for me. For Boo, I have faith that he has found the peace and acceptance he always wanted. I hope, wherever he now abides, that he knows my acceptance, my respect, and my love are with him.
Farewell, my dear friend Boo.