I met Noirin at OSCON, many years ago. Actually, I think it was the community leadership summit before OSCON. I was being me—meeting everyone—and one of those people was Noirin. I don’t remember the conversation exactly, but they must have asked me what I was working on, because I do remember giving them a presentation of my Ignite talk (which I was nervous about) and asking for feedback (which they very generously gave). That started a long tradition of Noirin giving me feedback on my talks; ones that I had done, ones that I was working on, ones that were just thoughts in my head. And as part of that process and the friendship that surrounded it, I discovered something wonderful.
The way in which Noirin saw the world was beautiful.
Noirin would send me letters about their day. Some of them would be the most trivial things, like a bus trip home from work, but they were described with such wonder and enthusiasm and joy that they were an absolute delight to read. They would describe the crunch of the leaves beneath their boots, the way in which the wind caught their hair, and the sun shining through the leaves of a tree. Letters from Noirin were magical, and I cherished them.
Noirin was always delighted with adventures. I remember exploring the tunnels under Melbourne and doing light-painting with them. I remember handing them a non-venomous jellyfish on a beach in Australia. I remember us being dressed as pirates, at a rooftop bar in Portland, and Noirin handing me a shot-glass of “chilli-infused midori” and watching—with a twinkle in their eye and a huge grin on their face—as I consumed a shot of habanero lube. It remains the best prank anyone has ever played on me, and I appreciated it both now and back then.
Noirin was understanding and supportive in times when I had it hard. I remember when I was sad and worn out and not really sure what I was doing with my life, and Noirin would just check on me, no matter where I was in the world, to see how I was doing, to tell me jokes and stories, and to make sure I was feeling better as a result.
I remember Noirin insisting I eat an enormous amount of food at thanksgiving. I remember Noirin insisting that I should have their camera, because I had recently discovered the joys of photography. I remember Noirin telling me that everyone in Ireland knew each other, and then meeting Diane while dressed as Santa on the other side of the world, and discovering Noirin’s insistence to be true.
I remember having a really, really bad day, and Noirin telling me they had organised an Amanda Palmer concert, and that I should MC it because no matter how much I didn’t believe in myself at the time, Noirin believed in me. It was one of the best days of my life.
Thank you, Noirin, for the memories, for the support, for the love, and for all the joy and wonder you brought not just into my life, but into the lives of those around you.
I love you, Noirin, rest in peace.
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