RIP Felicity Rilke November 17, 2014 6:49 PM   Subscribe

Felicity Rilke, known to the greater world as Alicia Merchant, has passed away.

She documented her long illness with bittersweet brilliance on her blog as well as in an article for Little Brother (excerpt here).

Alicia was an important contributor to the literary and storytelling scenes in Toronto. She was a lightning rod who inspired and brought people together. In the four years since we met, we became close friends and collaborators. I can honestly say she changed my life. We buried her on Saturday. Rest in peace, Alicia.
posted by SassHat to MetaFilter-Related at 6:49 PM (128 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

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posted by treehorn+bunny at 6:59 PM on November 17, 2014


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posted by Madamina at 7:13 PM on November 17, 2014


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posted by the quidnunc kid at 7:16 PM on November 17, 2014


Oh no. I really had hopes that those clinical trials would give her more time. I'm so sorry.
posted by maudlin at 7:17 PM on November 17, 2014 [1 favorite]


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posted by SpacemanStix at 7:39 PM on November 17, 2014


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posted by benito.strauss at 7:40 PM on November 17, 2014


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posted by oceanjesse at 7:43 PM on November 17, 2014


Oh SassHat, I am sorry for your loss.

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posted by jessamyn (retired) at 7:45 PM on November 17, 2014 [1 favorite]


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posted by cashman at 7:48 PM on November 17, 2014


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posted by julthumbscrew at 7:51 PM on November 17, 2014


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posted by gwint at 7:54 PM on November 17, 2014


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posted by fiercecupcake at 7:57 PM on November 17, 2014


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posted by Alterscape at 8:05 PM on November 17, 2014


I miss her dearly. I haven't been able to type out a coherent remembrance without ugly-crying and closing the window on a half-finished thought yet. I will get to that eventually.

SassHat, I happened to be at the event you MCed the other night because I needed to be around people, despite the fact that I went alone and typically can't deal with being in crowds of people I don't know, alone. I didn't know who you were, I certainly didn't know you were a MeFite, and I didn't know that you had suffered such an immense loss so soon before. Thank you so much for helping me laugh. I can't imagine what courage that took.

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posted by avocet at 8:05 PM on November 17, 2014 [11 favorites]


Ovarian cancer. Shit. So young. She sounds like a lovely person.

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posted by computech_apolloniajames at 8:07 PM on November 17, 2014 [1 favorite]


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posted by heyho at 8:09 PM on November 17, 2014


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posted by sockermom at 8:11 PM on November 17, 2014


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posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 8:11 PM on November 17, 2014


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posted by Monsieur Caution at 8:20 PM on November 17, 2014


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posted by MCMikeNamara at 8:25 PM on November 17, 2014


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posted by jacquilynne at 8:35 PM on November 17, 2014


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posted by Mitheral at 8:43 PM on November 17, 2014


I'm so sorry. I've been following her blog for awhile now. Her journey with cancer seemed so tremendously sad and difficult and she still told her story so very brilliantly. Thank you for letting us know.
posted by juliplease at 8:53 PM on November 17, 2014 [2 favorites]


Dead at 33. Fuck cancer.
posted by mlis at 9:26 PM on November 17, 2014 [3 favorites]


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posted by radioamy at 9:34 PM on November 17, 2014


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posted by drezdn at 9:48 PM on November 17, 2014


Looking back through her questions and comments made me recognize her voice immediately. That is sad news, I am sorry for your loss.
posted by Dip Flash at 10:02 PM on November 17, 2014 [2 favorites]


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posted by Small Dollar at 10:38 PM on November 17, 2014


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posted by Smart Dalek at 10:45 PM on November 17, 2014


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My condoleances to family and friends.
posted by MartinWisse at 11:06 PM on November 17, 2014 [1 favorite]


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posted by IndigoRain at 11:13 PM on November 17, 2014


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posted by yellowcandy at 11:29 PM on November 17, 2014


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posted by smoke at 2:21 AM on November 18, 2014


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posted by discopolo at 3:42 AM on November 18, 2014


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posted by grouse at 4:09 AM on November 18, 2014


She gifted me my Metafilter membership back when I was too much of a deadbeat to have fancy-people things like a credit card or, you know, money. It is probably the gift I've got the most enjoyment out of over the years.

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posted by melgy at 4:10 AM on November 18, 2014 [11 favorites]


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posted by Pope Guilty at 4:18 AM on November 18, 2014


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posted by DingoMutt at 5:16 AM on November 18, 2014


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My condolences to her family and friends. 33? Way too young.
posted by marienbad at 5:21 AM on November 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


Oh no. I didn't know her personally, but I always liked her contributions here. She seemed like a good soul.

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posted by Metroid Baby at 5:25 AM on November 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


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posted by something something at 5:42 AM on November 18, 2014


I am so sorry for your loss, SassHat. I will keep you in my thoughts.
posted by winna at 6:01 AM on November 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


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posted by Thorzdad at 6:14 AM on November 18, 2014


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posted by mediareport at 6:20 AM on November 18, 2014


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posted by xqwzts at 6:28 AM on November 18, 2014


Ah what a great essay that piece in Joyland is.


I still find myself wondering how to be funny when I live under the sword of Damocles. How to convey the ridiculousness and absurdity of a near-constant confrontation with my own mortality? Words, the cliché goes, are not enough—when I write out what has happened to me and what continues to happen to me, it is hard to find the humour. I am afraid I will not be able to convey the benignity behind the threat of my malignancy. That each indignity described will read only as indignity and the farce will be lost. I am afraid the only laughter I can conjure is the nervous laughter of people who don’t know how else to respond.

The second time I was diagnosed with cancer, I couldn’t tell people with a straight face. I would talk to them with a smile spread right across from one earlobe to the other, the way people are said to smile when they are really happy. And I would say to someone who asked, as people do, how’s it going?, that it wasn’t going very well at all because I had cancer and they would say ha ha and I would say ha ha and I would still be smiling and I would say, yes, it’s really unfortunate, I don’t know what my treatment options are and I have to go for surgery soon and then maybe start chemo and then the person would say, are you serious? And I would say of course, who would joke about cancer?


Dearly beloved...Let us LOL.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 6:32 AM on November 18, 2014 [30 favorites]


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posted by maryr at 9:14 AM on November 18, 2014


Fuck Cancer.

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posted by chunking express at 9:33 AM on November 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


A . seems insufficient. My condolences to her friends and family.
posted by mogget at 9:33 AM on November 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


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posted by readery at 9:34 AM on November 18, 2014


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Peaceful hearts and minds to her loved ones. Thanks for those links, maxsparber.
posted by Rock Steady at 9:50 AM on November 18, 2014 [2 favorites]


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posted by luckynerd at 9:55 AM on November 18, 2014


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posted by inturnaround at 10:02 AM on November 18, 2014


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posted by Benway at 10:29 AM on November 18, 2014


Oh no, this is the worst. She once messaged me b/c not only do we have the same name/nickname, we even had the same birthday, and we became vague internet friends. She was so funny and kind.
posted by leesh at 10:51 AM on November 18, 2014 [2 favorites]


I was so sorry to hear this. I always liked seeing her around here.

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posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 10:53 AM on November 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


Heartbreaking. Thank you so much for giving us this opportunity to reflect upon her existence and all she shared with the world. May you and all who love her be surrounded by comfort and support as you heal from this loss.
posted by batmonkey at 11:01 AM on November 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


. I am sorry for your loss, SassHat.
posted by crush-onastick at 11:17 AM on November 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


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posted by DirtyOldTown at 11:23 AM on November 18, 2014


I am so sorry, SassHat. I hope you have friends & loved ones close by, and enough distractions & comforts for a while while the ragged edge first heals. Reading news of another one lost to cancer makes my chest constrict and my throat close. I wish I could do something for your grief; concentrate on the best of her.
posted by wenestvedt at 11:26 AM on November 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


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posted by The Card Cheat at 4:42 PM on November 18, 2014


Oh hell. I'm so sorry, SassHat.
posted by item at 5:01 PM on November 18, 2014


I didn't know her, but my condolences to those who did. The Little Brother essay excerpt was gorgeous; she was truly gifted. These lines in particular really resonated with me: And that’s funny. Because none of this matches the narrative of illness where all you have to do is stay strong and fight and you will win the battle, and probably have someone fall in love with you at the same time because you are so noble and inspiring.

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posted by TwoStride at 5:01 PM on November 18, 2014 [4 favorites]


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posted by OolooKitty at 7:10 PM on November 18, 2014


. I am so sorry for your loss.
posted by kanata at 7:28 PM on November 18, 2014 [1 favorite]


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posted by iamkimiam at 2:09 AM on November 19, 2014


Alicia and I were friends since we were teenagers. We moved to Toronto together 9 years ago. (I joined MetaFilter after I saw her rush to AskMe during the infamous toilet rat incident.) Today my fiancé and another old friend spent all day with her sister organizing her stuff. So many notebooks full of plans.

It's 5:00 am and I still can't sleep--many of her friends have said this is happening to them too. So, like them, I'm going through a decade of our emails and chat logs in Gmail. But the good part is that they're always so funny. Here's one that just made me crack up, from when I was marooned in a hotel in D.C. at a crappy academic conference. It's short and goofy, not poignant, but it's the banter I miss and I can't believe I'll never hear her voice again.

me: O hai

Alicia: oh hai

how's the mega conference?

me: Tonight I ordered Dominos in my room and watched parts of Star Trek: Insurrection, Knocked Up, and Maverick on tv.

Alicia: living it up batch-stylez

me: That is right. I have a mini fridge and know how to use it. But I also held a 23 hr-old baby!

Alicia: WHAT

me: came with the pizza

Alicia: i love the states

posted by Beardman at 2:27 AM on November 19, 2014 [23 favorites]


Her writing is lovely and true and funny. I wish I had known her.
posted by muddgirl at 4:53 AM on November 19, 2014 [1 favorite]


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posted by thereemix at 10:48 AM on November 19, 2014


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posted by Joey Michaels at 12:58 PM on November 19, 2014


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so young, so sad
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posted by eriko at 9:26 PM on November 24, 2014


I have been to several Raconteurs (storytelling) events in Toronto because FelicityRilke posted about them in MeFi IRL. She was a charming host and a real natural on stage. She seemed supportive to new storytellers but still challenged them to be professional and eloquent.

She set the bar for those events and as a result the stories were always poignant, funny, and touching. I actually never introduced myself at the events, but I was always proud of "MeFi's own" Alicia Merchant. Of course now it seems obvious that I should have said something in person to let her know that she made such a great contribution to a stranger's life.
posted by cranberrymonger at 8:18 AM on November 26, 2014 [1 favorite]


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posted by guster4lovers at 4:52 PM on November 30, 2014


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