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14 February 2018

Tribute to Kevin Smith by Melissa Good

Tribute by Melissa Good

Coming Home

57111afd6a5260c1ef904c62dae68343It's been a very long week just past. I just got back from the Pasadena Convention of 2002. I hadn't really intended to go to the convention at all, to begin with. I had a heavy work schedule this month, and it's difficult for me to travel because of my mother's illness.

But. Sometimes fate works out in mysterious ways. I found myself sent on a business trip during that very week of the con, to of all places, Southern California. Not one to temp fate more than once, I gave in and extended my trip to cover the con weekend - knowing at the very least I would get to see friends and celebrate the magic again of this show that somehow brought together so many from so far for so long.

So I was glad I was going. There would be new t-shirts, old friends, and to top it all off, Michael Hurst and Renee O'Conner in an evening performance of Love Letters. And there were - new t-shirts, new sweatshirts, lots of old friends. But there was also a cloud there, a cloud of knowing that a member of the Xena family was hurt, and in a far off place.

There were four characters I really wanted to get to write for when I joined the Xena writing staff. Two I figured were a shoe in. (Xena and Gabrielle) The other two were Ares and Aphrodite. I got my chance to write Ares on my second script, and giving Kevin a place to shine as a god made mortal was one of the truly delightful experiences I had in the whole process. He did a fine job with it too - his Ares falling into madness, then being wrenched out of it by the horror of killing Xena was wonderful. He took the script and ran with it, and I was in turn humbled and amazed by the result.

A fine actor. A genuinely decent man who was funny and self deprecating and a true professional in the difficult job of being an action adventure star. I remember him being happy that Ares finally got to ride a horse. I remember him laughing when Lucy kicked his sword out of his hand a little too hard and almost took out a light shield. I remember Kevin and Lucy, with the day's light fading and time short, running through one of the most difficult passages of dialog in a single take because they were just that good at it, and knew each other just that well.

So I had my fingers crossed and was praying for him when I heard he was hurt, in a strange place far from his friends and family. I hoped such a strong man, who had been so full of love and life could pull through and make it back home.

It was cold and windy when I left the convention on Friday, heading back to get a jacket this southern nerd didn't realize would be needed. A page stopped me as I drove out of the parking lot, and when I looked down, all it said was: "Kevin died today."

A lot of people have related what Saturday was like, and I agree with all of them. It was a coming together, and sharing of grief of people who knew and loved Kevin the person, with people who knew and loved Kevin the image on the screen, and it was truly wonderful. For that one moment, in that auditorium, the line was gone between stars and fans, staff and viewers, TPTB and us. We were all just people who in that moment, had lost a friend.

It was a difficult emotion to quantify. It was difficult to understand why something like this would happen to someone like Kevin. It is difficult to cope with the knowledge of what Kevin's wife and children must be going through, to lose such a huge part of their lives.

The only easy thing to understand is why our first reaction was - 'what can we do to help?'. It's what we always do. I once said this was the most loving and giving group of people anywhere, and that's been proven time and time again - and will be now as the convention goers already have started the ball rolling, and the rest will continue to add to it through Sword and Staff, or personal donations, or other fund raising that will surely start up soon.

As I flew home today from the convention - a thought occurred to me. I travel a lot, and no matter how wonderful the place I've been is, I always am grateful to see the Everglades flash by under the wings of the plane and hear the captain say 'Welcome to Fort Lauderdale.' It means I'm home. I think anyone who travels a lot must feel that way - and I wondered if Kevin felt that way about being in China, so far from his home in New Zealand and his family. I wondered if he'd been looking forward to seeing the Auckland harbor and hearing voices that sounded like his did and being able to watch the All Blacks on television again.

For a moment, I felt very sad, because I knew this time, Kevin didn't make it back.

But then I thought about it, and because I've been there and seen New Zealand, I know that where Kevin is now must be awfully familiar to him, and very much like home after all.

Peace be with you, Kevin.