The Hermit Poet

July 29, 2005

Sad News

Filed under: General — Neil Aitken @ 8:34 am

I received word last night that my dear friend and editor Nancy Lambert passed away peacefully yesterday morning due to complications from cancer. She was a brave and bright soul — one who epitomized love in its purest sense. She and her husband cared for all the stray cats in their neighborhood — maybe 20 or 30 of them sometimes. She knew them all by name, knew their individual personalities, and knew how best to work with each. She did all this while she also worked as a copy-editor, a poet, and a novelist. She served in many capacities — always working for more love and compassion in the world.

As an editor, she was honest and caring — she understood both the craft and the heart of a manuscript. Unafraid of being brutal in her editing suggestions, she was also generous in her praise. I will miss her deeply in this capacity — but more than this, I will miss the long conversations we had over all sorts of topics. She loved this world, despite those who sometimes make it ugly. She loved people, despite their many flaws. She loved language and the power of poetry.

We talked a few months ago on the phone and I was struck — moved by her attitude and strength, despite what seemed to be a return of the cancer. She said she had had a wonderful spiritual experience and through it she knew she was loved, that the doctors were doing their very best, and that somehow things would work out in the way it was supposed to. She said she had no fear of death any more — she only worried about finishing her book. There was so much positive energy radiating out of her, it humbled me.

A group of her close friends and her own editor now are continuing the work on the book. It weaves in poetry and personal narrative with fiction, explores the boundary space of dying, and addresses what cancer does to people and what people do with cancer. It’s a spiritual book without being religious. It is very much Nancy — so grand and vast in its vision. So deep in its explorations. So much heart that we ache with our loss of her.

Still, I know that Nancy is not far from us. Somewhere she continues on with her great love of people and animals. Somewhere she is editing and writing. She sends her love back to us, as she always did: without reservation, without concern for race, gender, religion, or nationality. I am certain in the afterlife that all those she has cared for now surround her with arms of gratitude and reunion. I have no qualms about admitting that I am a religious man. I am also a spiritual man. I believe in a God whose love and compassion and tolerance are greater than our comprehension — and that Nancy was a constant reminder of that love in my life.

Nancy, wherever you are, tell the cats hello. We miss you.

2 Responses to “Sad News”

  1. Harris Says:

    I knew Nancy thirty-five years ago, a different time, a different place, but apparently the same glorious soul. Memories have never left me of all she did for me when nobody else could, all she made me feel after I no longer wanted to know what it was to feel.
    At this point in my life, one of my few genuine regrets is having been so blind to some of the problems I had that they started to affect those I had loved the most, those who had tried hardest to understand and to help, and Nancy had a special place among those people.
    Having had no contact with each other in all this time, I was still hit by a sense of loss, not for myself of course, but for those whose lives that I somehow knew, even back then, that she would touch, those she would heal.
    Hers was the voice of angel I still hear, one that will continue to speak to people in their darkest hours.

  2. Carrie Etter Says:

    Nancy was a good friend to me during my years in southern California and afterward, when I moved to England. I’d be glad to hear of any progress of her book.

Leave a Reply