We lost her today.
That sounds funny, doesn’t it? Like she’s misplaced or under the bed or wandering around a state park somewhere with a giant purse and a flashlight wondering how she got talked into going for a walk in the great outdoors in the middle of February. Except it’s hard to laugh today. Judi McCoy passed away due to complications from diabetes and… it’s hard to laugh today.
I’m running out of tissue. I’m weeping like a fool…except when I’m not. Except when I’m remembering the bathtub incident at RT in New York that year when she and I roomed together. Except when I remember that voice, like nails and glass in a metal coffee can sometimes…that accent that could cut through wire…but oh, god, she was so sincere and so funny. She was so generous to everyone. She could drive you crazy one minute and then make you thank every angel in heaven that you had her close at hand. She’d argue that she was “nobody” in the industry and that no one knew/cared who she was until you wanted to throttle her. Then she’d just laugh at you and bask in all the compliments and praise… and she deserved every word of it.
I’m remembering the beginning writers she invited up to our room, an impromptu extension of the class that she just didn’t want to turn away…she was so amazing to all of them, so patient and so blazingly blunt with her advice and critiques…they fell in love with her, I think. I know I did. I already had, but seeing her in action–I knew she was one-of-a-kind.
When Rudy died, we cried and cried together. She practically ruined an entire weekend event, The Chocolate Affaire, in Arizona as an entire booth of romance authors sobbed through a two day book signing because every dog that walked by set Judi off and then we’d cry because she was crying and… well, you get the picture. We cried until it was funny that we were crying. We cried until it was safe to tease her a little about it and then she was laughing and crying…and then it was okay. I remember that it was okay and saying something impossible like, “Come on, Judi! He’s not gone! He’s right there, curled up at your feet and so excited about your new series coming out and so thrilled for you! He’s there, you just can’t see him. And he still loves you and he’s probably wondering what in the world you’re fussing about. You made him immortal, Judi. He’ll never be gone. He’s not leaving you.”
So, now I’m just going to cry. I’m going to cry until I laugh. I’m going to cry until it’s safe to tell myself, “Come on, Renee! She’s not gone! She’s right there with Rudy and she’s cheering you on with the books and the new series. You just can’t see her, but she’s immortal on those pages and she’ll never be gone. And she’d kick you under the desk if she caught you crying… or she’d make a joke about the Chocolate Affaire and turn the tables…”
I’m out of tissue. Still crying. But I’ll get there. Judi wouldn’t want to be remembered in a weep-fest. She’d want me to wrap it up with one last joke about how I seem to be the only person on the planet who ever accused her of snoring. Swear to God, she could peel the paint off the walls… (See, Judi? That one was for you. We can argue about it later.)
I love you, Judi.