Do not go gentle into that good night

February 2, 2022

rage-againstDo not go gentle into that good night
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
~Dylan Thomas

After a long and difficult fight with ovarian cancer, my dear, dear friend, Robin, has made her transition, a valiant warrior full of life to the end.  She bore more than any person should be forced to.  She was 70.


I took this when she visited me in 2014.

A smart, accomplished woman, she was the first woman New York Times sports reporter–a pioneer in sports journalism. The first woman reporter in a locker room. She lived and worked in Paris for a half dozen years. She knew the contentment of.a happy marriage to an awesome man, raised two children (and cats!)  and experienced the joy of grandchildren.

Like the rest of us, her life had its challenges and she faced them with equanimity, at least it seemed so to me. I loved her –and admired her, tremendously.

I met her at a conference in Manhattan, she and I, seated a little apart from others, engaged in conversation that went on for the entire decade+ of our friendship. Both of us smart, alive and yes, a little neurotic, we recognized each other as kindred spirits. It gave us a shorthand I have with very few friends. We were sister-friends in the best of ways. And laugh–boy could we laugh! At each other, at ourselves, at life.


Storm over the river as we fished that day.

From her diagnosis some years ago to the end, she chose not to live out her disease on social media. It was a private battle and a brave one. I was lucky enough to be in the group of friends with whom she shared her diagnosis  early on. This made it easier to provide support when she and I traveled together on  noteworthy trips.

And travel we did—like a twisted version of Thelma and Louise, she from the East coast and me from the West, meeting up for adventures.

We marveled together at the beauty of Sedona –I was thrilled to introduce her to its red rocks and vortices; she loved them so much she brought her husband back after our trip. Besides being a professional writer, she was a gifted painter and developed her watercolor talent after she retired. It was a real talent. She was good.


Robin’s painting of that storm that hangs in my Rochester home.

Our hotel patio in Sedona overlooked an amazing view and I remember her excitement at the colors, the view, and her sitting out there with her paints, delighted to replicate the gorgeous red rocks against the bluest of skies.

But before that, the two of us took our best trip: fly fishing in Montana. She might have been a sports reporter but she wasn’t a fisherwoman. What an experience for two somewhat girly girls! (At least as far as fishing was concerned! Our running joke on that trip was about which nail polish to wear.) On the river we were rapt as our guide taught us to cast from our boat.

A big, beautiful Montana thunderstorm came in as we were on the river, a storm she painted and then gifted me the piece. It hangs in my New York home along with my favorite of her pieces, a watercolor of the Statue of Liberty that still takes my breath away.

rage-againstI treasure my Robin Herman pieces. But I treasured her even more.

But–no matter where we were, laughter reverberated from our car, our hotel rooms and restaurants as we explored together. Had we met sooner, no doubt we would have traveled more. She often credited my travels with inspiring the amping up of her own with her husband, especially after her diagnosis. They took many wonderful trips together all over the world. I credit her with inspiring me in ways she probably only knows now.

In her last weeks, she told me numerous times and specifically how I had contributed to her life. I responded in kind. Nothing left unsaid between us at the end.

She was a huge supporter of my writing and this past year, my performances.

“I don’t think I’ll be here for your January Zoom performance,” she told me. “Can I see it earlier?” By the time I was ready to show it to her privately, she could no longer manage it. She died in her sleep just hours after my performance. But making her laugh, if only for a few minutes, would have made me so happy.

The long strings of text messages at the odd hours we kept. The cat memes. The phone calls. So much. I’ll remember them all.


Dolly Llama and friend.

In her last months, I found this llama online and had one sent to her and one to me. “You’ll be getting a package from Eastern Europe. Don’t worry, it’s from me!”

We amused ourselves across the miles during her last few months texting photos of our llamas posing in different odd places. In one of those texts was a video of her llama (whom she and her family named “Dolly,” yes, as in “Dolly Llama”) in her grandson’s hand as he took his very first steps. Helping him walk for the first time.

“Now, she’ll be a family legend,” she wrote me, in tacit acknowledgment that this would be a story her family would tell after she was gone. But then, this was Robin. Once she’d come to terms with the inevitable she made sure that I, and I’m sure others, knew our contributions to her life and in this case, family lore.  A final gift of love.

I already miss her so much.

After Montana I started talking with her about fly-fishing in France in the Loire Valley. Of course, she spoke French, so who better? I knew it would be another hilarious adventure.  Sadly, her condition never improved enough for us to go.


Still, I like to think of us there, on that river bank, against the backdrop of a gorgeous chateau, casting and casting, deeply in the moment, knowing there is no other moment but this one.

And this one. And…this one.

Dear friend… may the secrets of life now revealed delight you. Visit me any time.

And when it’s my turn, I hope you’re waiting, that smile on your face, fishing poles and a map to the Loire in hand .. and we’ll finally get that trip.

PS Yes! Bring nail polish!

16 comments on “Do not go gentle into that good night
  1. Mel Studer says:

    Oh my goodness! You have made me laugh and cry all at once! What a wonderful friendship. Those are rare and beautiful! So sorry for your loss…?

  2. Diane says:

    Oh, my friend, I ache for your aching. I’m so sad for your parting. But it is just a parting. She is free now from her pain! You’ll get your fishing trip and many more.
    Your grief now is the next sharing of your love.
    Thinking of you and Robin today and looking forward to when you introduce us!

  3. Lynda Beth Unkeless says:

    Dear Carol,

    How dear and wonderful and talented
    Robin was! I am so sorry you lost her at 70…how I wish you had had much more fun and life together!

    Your writing makes me feel what a force of nature she was, and how much you shared with her.

    And woah! Her powerful painting
    of the storm is metaphor to me of the beautiful energy she must have exuded!
    Even though the image of her art on your blog is small, I feel its big beautiful intensity.

    I am so sorry she could not see your
    1-31-22 performance “in person” …but
    she was with you “in spirit.”

    Deep Friendship is such a gift.

    You are so blessed to have known and loved each other. ?

  4. Alana says:

    I didn’t know the name but I remember her being hired, I’m pretty sure, because it was a big event when it happened. She walked into a sports dressing room after a game and you’d think the world had ended. The Montana painting is breathtaking. Maybe I’m not surprised that a groundbreaking woman would be multi talented. Friendships like yours and hers are such a beautiful thing; her memory will be a blessing for all who knew her.

  5. So sorry for your loss of your beautiful friend. Such a beautiful tribute of friendship.

  6. Kim Tackett-Barbaria says:

    Oh Carol, my heart cracks open with this. I met Robin through you, and we connected on Facebook through our shared love of Iceland and art. She enjoyed my collages and I sent her some, plus a few other smaller offerings. I knew about the cancer, but not how serious it was. She sent me art too…she made a small watercolor painting of two sunflowers for me, because she knew they represented my dad. I keep it above my writing desk. Last night I watched your show (brava!) and as I turned out the light in my studio, lingered on her flower, and wondered how she was. What a lovely, loving friend. Thank you for connecting us. Love and light.

  7. Laurie Stone says:

    Beyond beautiful. What an amazing tribute to an amazing woman. I feel like I knew her by your words and felt myself sniffling at the end. Somewhere she’s smiling.

  8. Lauren says:

    My heart aches for you. What your dear friend endured was insurmountable. She was lucky to have you…and Dolly.

  9. This is so lovely, Carol. What a gift to have 10 years of such a friendship (although I know you both wished it could have been more). I hope you can join us Sunday for the tribute to her that I’m part of producing.

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