Animal Scene - - ANIMALS ONLINE - Text by STEF DELA CRUZ, MD

The mind is a tricky thing. It can sep­a­rate a hor­ri­ble re­al­ity from the emo­tions that nor­mally come with it, fool­ing one into think­ing that a tragedy is a mere farce, mak­ing one be­lieve that grief is some­thing one can con­trol.

The day I found out that Char­lene Bo­bis, An­i­mal Scene’s ed­i­tor-in-chief -- col­league, con­fi­dante, fel­low cat lover, friend -- passed away, my mind de­cided to play tricks on me. My brain re­fused to be­lieve she was gone. I went on with my day like I nor­mally did, think­ing it was all just an ugly dream from which I would wake up.

But re­al­ity soon came crash­ing down and it crashed down hard. The way she shared sto­ries about her past with­out re­gret, the way she held the fort for me when I was too ill to meet my dead­lines, the way she res­cued cats and ad­vo­cated for com­pas­sion to­ward strays, the way she just was -- all of it came back to me in one acutely painful mo­ment like a sharp rock pop­ping my fake, emo­tion­less bub­ble of com­fort.

I grieve, but not on my own. As my mind’s de­cep­tion fades away and how I feel starts to catch up with what I know, I con­tinue to share mem­o­ries of her with those she also left be­hind. She has made a fam­ily out of the writ­ers, artists, and ed­i­tors work­ing for the mag­a­zine she loved, leav­ing in her wake a group of peo­ple bound to­gether by, most of all, how much they missed her. Hav­ing zero tol­er­ance for bull, she has mas­tered the art of fil­ter­ing out the phony, which was why those whom she loved also loved her back.

An­i­mal Scene was her baby. She cared for it, pro­tected it, and made sure it grew and thrived.

I could never fill her shoes -- not even if I tried, not even af­ter she in­sisted I take her place one day. No. There is no other Char­lene.

Her pass­ing left a vac­uum that na­ture could not fill. Even my trick­ster mind could not dupe me into think­ing oth­er­wise. How­ever, there will be no good­byes; just thank-yous and see-you-soons. Her heart stays with us, kept alive by the legacy she left be­hind.

(Have a blast wher­ever you are, dear friend, and save a seat for us. Un­til our next get-to­gether.)

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