Another letter

(Tracy Freeling)

To say that I am stunned would be a gross understatement.

Although I have been around Usenet for more than a decade, my participation has waxed and waned as school, work, or my personal life changed. I really haven't been around much this past year in particular. A new job, a new town, building a house...and the dearth of interesting topics (i.e. something other than Dan Tropea)...kept me away. During the summer, I got an email from Cronan asking where I had been lately. I zipped off a flippant response -- something like "real life keeps getting in the way" -- before I headed out of town yet again. I can only imagine how that must have sounded to him... Forgive me, kiddo, for being so self-absorbed.

I did not even know that Cronan had been sick until I got an email from Franklin last week. On the infrequent occasions when I perused the SF newsgroups this year, I found little or nothing from Cronan. I just figured that like myself he was bored with Usenet...or maybe just busy being a 19 year old. But I assumed (and hoped) that like myself he would come back to these, his old stomping grounds, sooner or later.

It saddens me immensely to know now that that will never happen. Cronan was an incredibly complicated young man. He was bright, irreverent, irrepressible, and wickedly funny. His take on things was invariably unique. To say that he was "one of a kind" seems trite. But that hackneyed phrase is the best I can do right now.

Cronan Thompson was my friend...even though we had never met and knew each other only through email and Usenet. But we had some great conversations! I missed our sparring when I had a spare moment to think about such things, and will always regret that I didn't take the time to ping him this summer. Ironically, I emailed him just a few weeks back with some miscellaneous clippings that I thought might be of interest to him. Mindspring bounced an "unknown user" message, but I just figured that he had changed his id or ISP yet again. It is hard to fathom that at the time I sent my conversational gambits, Cronan had already passed away...

Although he relished his role as our enfant terrible, Cronan was much sweeter and a lot more interesting in private correspondence. If he had been the typical teenager, I probably would not have bothered to chat with the barely-out-of-grammar-school newbie that I first encountered. I might have written him off the way that many did when he first popped into our little world. But even is his early posts, Cronan's wit, intelligence, and passion were evident. Those traits may have been obscured a bit by his "youthful" and often profane style, but they were *always* there.

Over time, Cronan honed his innate talents...especially that amazingly original gift for language. He became a worthy adversary and an even better ally. After one long exchange in a trek ng, a regular there emailed me to ask how I could argue so vociferously with Cronan in one thread and then defend him in another. I thought the answer was obvious. If I didn't respect him in the first place I wouldn't have bothered to debate him. Pummeling the Troys of the world was one thing...arguing with Cronan required the investment of some serious man-hours!

We had some terrific debates both here and in private. They would often wander...we would start on one topic only to have another one take over. We disagreed on a multitude of topics. At times it was hard to believe that he was 15, 16, 17...and at times it was all too easy to see! -- Once in exasperation, I told him that since we already had a Podkayne of Mars, he must be our Clark. [I think it was after he crossposted a thread to alt.christnet that brought skads of religious fanatics to the sf newsgroups!!!] At first, he didn't get the allusion. But being Cronan, he soon tracked down the reference. I think he was tickled to realize that it was ultimately a compliment.

Periodically, I would ask Cronan what he wanted to do with his life. Often he would respond with some zany tale. Once, though, he asked why did I want to know. I told him that I knew he would make a name for himself in the larger world...I just wasn't sure how but wanted to be prepared in case our association led to an FBI debriefing for me! That remark was pretty typical of the banter that we exchanged, but Cronan realized that it was also a testament to my belief in his many talents. I *knew* that it was just a matter of time before he earned fame and fortune as a writer or commentator of some sort.

And now this...

His loss is a tragedy on so many levels. A young man gone far too soon. His family and friends robbed of his lively spirit. But in smaller terms, in relationship to Usenet and the groups that he is a great shame that more of you didn't have the
chance to get to know the *real* Cronan Thompson. You'll never know what you missed!!!

Goodbye, sweetie pie...

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