Saying goodbye with a laugh: The Jay Lake Wake

Astonishingly, our busy travel schedule this summer allowed me to attend an important event for a dear friend of mine, Jay Lake’s “live wake.” Anyone who knows Jay won’t be surprised that he would rather go out with a bang than a whimper, and the wake was certainly in the category of “bang” — and luckily, it looks as if it won’t be the last.

To begin the proceedings, Jay was carried into the room in a coffin.

Jay Lake Wake

After which he rose from the dead with a typically Jay-like gesture of triumph.

Jay Lake Wake

The roasting followed, which included many references to Jay’s huge productivity and exceedingly successful polyamourous lifestyle.* In both regards, a certain amount of envy could often be discerned through the jokes, despite the occasion.

It was amazingly funny and fun, given the fact that the reason for the party was Jay’s diagnosis as terminal. Once enough people had lovingly abused Jay, he got up to have his own say.

Jay Lake Wake

The humor left the room for a little while, to be replaced by the seriousness of the situation, which we were all trying to repress, or at least chase away for a couple of hours with a few jokes.

At least Jay was able to give us a little good news — his most recent tests give him quite a bit longer to live than than the prognosis had been only weeks ago. As Jay phrased it, he has become a medical curiosity, something no one should aspire to. So we all continue to say good bye in stages. But as another speaker mentioned, we are all terminal, after all.

Here’s hoping this won’t be my last chance to say goodbye.

* Long ago, Jay used to refer to this as being a boy slut, but that doesn’t have the legitimacy of sounding like a lifestyle choice. :)

About Ruth Nestvold

Ruth Nestvold's short fiction has appeared in numerous markets, including Asimov's, F&SF, Baen's Universe, Strange Horizons, Scifiction, and Gardner Dozois's Year's Best Science Fiction. Her fiction has been nominated for the Nebula, Tiptree, and Sturgeon Awards. In 2007, the Italian translation of her novella "Looking Through Lace" won the "Premio Italia" award for best international work. Her novel Flamme und Harfe appeared in translation with the German imprint of Random House, Penhaligon, in 2009 and has since been translated into Dutch and Italian. She maintains a web site at
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8 Responses to Saying goodbye with a laugh: The Jay Lake Wake

  1. Jim Van Pelt says:

    Hi, Ruth. Thanks for the summary and pics. I wish I could have been there.

  2. Pingback: [personal] JayWake, the day after |

  3. Thanks for posting the pictures and the write-up. I thought about the shindig last night, about the time it was getting started — a one-of-a-kind event for a one-of-a-kind person!


  4. Pingback: "Coffins are hot and dark on the inside" | IPOPSOS

  5. Pingback: Goodbye, buddy: Jay Lake, June 6, 1964 – June 1, 2014 | Ruth Nestvold – Indie Adventures

  6. Pingback: Jay Lake 1964-2014 | Writer Pictures

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