Rheta Shan (2007–2009)

All too often, the budding author finds that his tale has run its course and yet he sees no way to satisfactorily end it, or, in literary parlance, “wrap it up.” Observe how easily I resolve this problem:

Suddenly, everyone was run over by a truck.
—the end—

If the story happens to be set in England, use the same ending, slightly modified:

Suddenly, everyone was run over by a lorry.
—the end—

If set in France:

Soudaincment, tout le monde etait ecrass par un camion.

You’ll be surprised at how many different settings and situations this ending applies to.

— “How to Write Good,” by Michael O’Donoghue

I hadn’t heard from Rheta Shan for over a month. This was not entirely unexpected. She’d been online less frequently as her typist’s pregnancy progressed, and she was expecting to be gone for a bit when the due date arrived. I’d been patiently standing by my Twitter feed, waiting for word.

Word arrived this morning, but it wasn’t what I was hoping for.

Suddenly, Rheta Shan’s typist was run over by a van.
—the end—

I will admit that part of me hopes that this is an exit strategy, that having succeeded in her stated mission of “crafting a story so persuasive it will be taken at face value,” Rheta’s typist has chosen the most cliché conclusion imaginable—srsly, hit by a truck when nine months pregnant?—and taken her leave. I prefer that hope to the alternative… but I also know all too well that cheap ironic twists that would be laughed out of a pulp novel happen constantly in First Life.

I’ve been proud to count Rheta among the parishioners at the First Church of Rosedale (Immersionist). The church has a slightly complicated relationship with First Life. We acknowledge that it exists, and that things that happen there sometimes have a direct effect on Second Life, but at the same time we’re committed to taking Second Life on its own terms whenever possible. The tension between the two is reflected in our name and denomination: “Rosedale” is the First Life name for Our Lord Philip, while “Immersionist” is our outlook. It was also Rheta’s.

To quote another bit from her profile, “Don’t cry for the future, when we have today.” I can’t help crying for the future. I was looking forward to conducting a partnering/collaring ceremony for her and Thaddy. I’m going to miss our discussions of everything from philosophy to language to shoes to religion to family dynamics to shoes to Linden Lab to literature to… did I mention shoes?

But we have yesterday, and I wouldn’t trade that for anything. Rheta was charming and witty and insightful and very, very modest, and I loved her dearly. I still love her dearly, in whatever realm she’s in now. (I trust that Zeroth Life offers the ultimate immersive experience, without all the lag.) And both my lives are richer for having known her.

Rheta Shan at the First Church of Rosedale

Rheta Shan at the First Church of Rosedale, April 6, 2008

3 Responses to “Rheta Shan (2007–2009)”

  1. Raven Haalan Says:

    Yes, Rheta will be dearly, dearly missed. 😦

  2. Let it be. « Samantha Speaks! Says:

    […] Samantha Speaks! I contain multitudes. « Rheta Shan (2007–2009) […]

  3. Rest in Peace, Rheta Shan « Pervasive Games: Theory and Design Says:

    […] Some more farewells and obituaries from friends in SL […]

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