Cathy Seipp, among other things the author of the popular blog Cathy's World, has died after a long battle with cancer. Though I knew her only by her writing, I feel a sense of loss. She was conservative, but not always predictably so, and tough and smart and funny and a clear and compelling writer. Read this loving tribute -- I think that term fits -- by Susan Estrich, who was about as far politically from Seipp as it is possible to be:
Lung cancer was one of the few subjects we agreed on; I lost my best friend seven years ago, and watched in horror as the money from the tobacco settlements got spent building highways. We also agreed about things like mothering, kids and friendship. As for the rest, we had to agree to disagree. But I was always interested in how Cathy put it, where she came down and how she got there, because I knew she'd be as tough on herself as any critic would be. So I checked in every day to see what she was thinking, until the end. Ours was an old-fashioned relationship, the kind people used to have with people they disagree with, the kind that is too often under attack these days.
It's too bad we'll never meet, Cathy wrote to me not long ago, and my heart skipped a beat, but of course I knew what she meant. We e-mailed. She posted. We lived in a new world, by the old rules. It may be the best of both.
Living "in a new world, by the old rules." I like that. I have been blessed with many friends, some of them stubbornly clinging to liberalism despite my best efforts to convince them of the error of their ways -- and I know they have been equally disappointed in me. But the arguing has always been fun, and challenging and stimulating and leavened with the knowledge that we cared for each other despite our differences of opinion. In the end, it's not so much what you believe that matters but who you are and what you do.
As Seipp knew and Estrich still understands, that kind of "agreeing to disagree" friendship is tougher and tougher these days, and we are all the poorer for it.