Some things in this life are just incredibly hard for even me to imagine. Leslie Banks not being in this world is one of them.

Yes, I knew she was sick. I knew it was bad. Even that was hard enough to get my head around. In the grand scheme of things, this morning’s news was to be expected and answered with a “Thank God she didn’t have to suffer” reaction. My grandmother has dementia. I have a very clear perspective on what that suffering is like and how much it costs — both emotionally and monetarily.

But if you ever met Leslie–even for just five minutes–and I hope you did–you know exactly what I’m talking about. She was the kind of person you remember for the rest of your life, and feel better for knowing. The thought of Leslie just brings sunny images to mind. She was so optimistic and upbeat and sweet as pie and genuine and tall. She was just so full of life that death is simply…inconceivable. It’s like waking up one morning and realizing the sun’s not there anymore. Inconceivable.

Sherrilyn Kenyon introduced us during a panel switch at Dragon*Con. I was a buyer for Tor then, and was very familiar with (and proud of) the rise of her Minion series. It was a brief encounter, in which Leslie and I immediately expressed our mutual love for one another, and we looked forward to seeing each other soon, later at Dragon*Con, or another convention. We exchanged a very few emails over the years–nothing too deep or soul-searching. And we never did get to meet in person again.

Like many of you, I will regret that I did not know Leslie better…but I honestly feel that my life is blessed having met her just that once. Like I was kissed by a fairy on a misty day and got to see a rainbow: it is an event that will never happen again, but one I will treasure forever.

If you would like to contribute to the fund set up for Leslie’s hospital bills and her daughter, please click here. Thank you.