Bob Pastorio was someone who frequented the same newsgroup that rdeck and I met in; he was a presence there, one of the better known posters and one possessed of acerbic wit and sharp insights. We didn't always agree - in fact we had at least one flaming squabble, at least some of it on the newsgroup itself - but there was a mutual respect even in the squabbles.
About the same time as rdeck and I married, he too tied the knot - with another member of the same newsgroup, and a good friend of mine. He became a notch closer, because of that - because there was now more than one connection between my husband and myself and Bob and his new wife.
On our first driving trip up the Eastern Seaboard of the United States, back in the first year of my marriage when I was still a young bride, rdeck and I stayed almost every night of that trip with someone we had met online, often people we had never met in real life but whom we considered to be friends, nonetheless. One of those stops was at Bob's place.
This was in the early days of his own marriage, and HIS bride was away tying up some loose ends of her own pre-nuptial existence - so our hosts in the Pastorio household were Bob and his then eight-year-old daughter. We were told in confidence after she had gone to bed that night we spent there that she had decided that chocolates on our pillows would help make us think we were in a very special hotel, so the two of them did that, left chocolates. But before we even got to bed that night, it was morning - and we had stayed up most of the night talking.
There are stories we took away from that visit that we still tell today.
LIke the time when Bob, in his capacity as the trainer of a young and enthusiastic chef at a hoity-toity country club, was accosted by his protege who was carrying a plate absolutely heaped with almost anything you could think of - from asparagus to zucchini - all covering a couple of crab cakes at the bottom of the whole pile.
"Look, I invented a new dish," the young chef said with great glee. "What do you think?"
Bob accepted the plate with misgivings, took a mouthful, and then handed it back.
"You can't," he said reprovingly, "taste the crab."
"I know!" crowed the young initiate happily. "Isn't it wonderful?"
Bob died in his sleep today, with his wife by his side, with his family near. If you have to go, slipping away quietly in your sleep while people you love are around you is probably the best way there is to go. But I remember that little girl who put her head together with her father to make visitors feel welcome. And my heart goes out to my friend, whose heart must be in a million pieces.
So long, Bob. May Heaven have a good kitchen for you to make your magic in.
We who are left behind on Earth will miss having you here with us.