Just as I was finishing up at Dev Bootcamp in 2016, I learned quite by accident that a friend I'd known in my days as a RPG and boardgame developer, Aaron Allston, had passed away in two years before. He was most widely known as an author of Star Wars Expanded Universe novels in the 1990s and 2000s, especially the Wraith Squadron trilogy featuring Wedge Antilles, the only X-Wing pilot aside from Luke Skywalker to survive the destruction of the Death Star in the original Star Wars film. When I knew and worked with Aaron in the late 1980s, he was one of the brightest, most creative, warmest and funniest writers in the then-obscure field of pen-and-paper roleplaying games, but I talk about that more on my tribute page.
I haven't been back to Austin since about 1990, and had lost touch with Aaron at about that same time. Still hearing of his death really rocked me, as much as if I'd seen him just last weekend. In my mind, everyone I knew from that time is still in their mid-20s, young, talented and fearless. It simply never occurred to me that as I traveled through my life, getting older and maybe a bit less wreckless, the same thing was happening to the friends from my youth. I've lost friends and relatives before, but their passing was always at least one remove from where I was in my own life—they were either of an older generation, or died because of an unexpected and unpredictable accident or illness. Aaron is the first person I've known from my own generation who died of natural causes—assuming you consider heart disease and a cardiac arrest "natural." He was the first of us to pass, and that's sobering.
About this tribute page
As a webpage, my tribute to Aaron isn't anything fancy. It was originally created on CodePen for submission to Free Code Camp, in vanilla HTML and CSS. But it's simple and clean, and it does what it's supposed to do. And it means something to me, so I wanted to preserve it here.
This tribute page was created outside of this website, a full year before the current iteration even existed. So I've left it as a stand-alone web page, just as it was originally created. I haven't refactored it to make it responsive, nor have I imposed the headers, footers, and styling of this website upon it. I think that was the right choice.