Fantastic Friday: In Memory of Bob

It seems not too long ago I wrote of the death of my uncle. Today, I learned of another death. Bob Bonitz, who wrote under the pen name R. C. Bonitz, was a founding member of The Spot Writers, a writing group I belong to. The four of us take turns writing flash fiction to post weekly on our blogs.

Young lonely woman on bench in park

A while back, The Spot Writers decided to write a serialized novella, which we ended up collectively publishing. Though I never met Bob face-to-face, I feel like I know a lot about him through his writing. Believe me, it’s difficult to write a story with three other people, especially if personalities are different. If you’ve read the serialized blog posts, or the ebook or paperback, you might feel as if you know Bob’s personality, too. When I read his book A Blanket for Her Heart, I got an overwhelming sense of kindness and good intent, and that’s something difficult to fabricate.

Though Bob quit The Spot Writers a year or so ago, I and another original member, Cathy MacKenzie, still remember him fondly. We often exchanged writing advice and shared many of the same publishers. And the group he conceived has stayed strong—even if it sometimes takes convincing for us to keep our ever-changing fourth member! The four of us would never be together—the stories we post each week would never have been written—if it weren’t for Bob.

The Spot Writers was founded in May 2012. That means in the time since its inception, roughly 320 short stories have been written. All because of Bob.

And that got me thinking.

The father of a good friend of mine had a recent health scare. He’s not out of the woods yet, but it was looking bad for a while. So death has been on my mind. In fact, I came across an article recently about near-death experiences: the thesis was that death itself isn’t so bad—many of the writers of the article, who had technically died on operating tables and in similar circumstances, compared it to a very peaceful sleep, a restful absence of worry.

So what, exactly, is the worst thing that can happen when we die?

For me, it’s not leaving behind anything. Whether it’s children, or a novel, or memories that others take with them, the act of leaving something behind shows that we were here, that we existed. I wrote of this when remembering my uncle—how the turnout at his viewing, and the box of dog biscuits we found at his house, which he kept for the dogs of neighbors and friends, showed just how connected he was.

Being on maternity leave, I’ve been spending a lot of time in the house lately, and I’ve also pondered what makes a house a home. And really, it’s the same thing. It’s leaving a piece of us in that space. It’s caulking around a window to keep out a draft. It’s painting a room to align with your personality. It’s planting flowers in a garden that bloom even after we’re gone. It’s building a clubhouse for my daughter, or instilling in her what is important in life. It’s watching her teach to her brother a song I taught her, and using one of my calming techniques to calm him.

It’s how, in the words of Ray Bradbury, we can live forever.

I send my condolences to Bob’s family, but I hope they can take comfort in the impact Bob has had in just this small facet of his writing life, in conceiving a writing group that has been thriving for six years now.

To my friend Bob—thanks, and Godspeed.

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