"Death is that state where one lives only in the memory of others,
which is why it is not an end. No goodbyes--just good memories."
- Tasha Yar
I knew it was coming, but that didn't blunt the sadness I felt when I learned yesterday that Michael Piller died. I didn't know Michael very well -- a consequence of my age when we worked together, and one of the very few lingering regrets I have about Star Trek -- but I had (and have) tremendous respect for him, and I believe that he is more responsible than anyone else for Next Generation transforming itself into the amazing show it became in season four.
I last saw Michael at a Star Trek convention in Pasadena a couple of years ago. He was there to talk about Dead Zone, and I was there to read from my upcoming book, Dancing Barefoot. I had just finished watching the fourth season of TNG on DVD.
I felt the usual Prove To Everyone shame, but I walked over to him anyway. We spoke for a bit, and I finally said what I needed to say.
"I never understood how important you were to the show," I said, "until I watched it change under your leadership."
A group of kids dressed in Buffy costumes sped down the hallway, swarmed around us, and ran into the main hall, where one of their idols was about to speak.
"So I wanted to say 'thank you' now, because before, I was -- well, I just didn't know how."
He smiled and took my hand. "Thank you, Wil," he said.
"Good luck with Dead Zone," I said. "I hear it's going to be fantastic."
He drew a deep breath. "We'll see . . ." he said.
And that was it. We chatted for another minute or so, and went our separate ways.
I hardly knew Michael, but everyone who did loved him. As far as I can tell, he was one of the very few genuinely good people who worked in the industry.
Goodbye, Michael, and thank you.