The woman in the photo above is an amazing soul. I don’t say that lightly and I don’t mean it in a religious sense. I mean it in a playful, let’s-go-kick-some-butt sense. I mean it as a fellow traveler who admired how she made a conscious decision to love herself and do her best to help others learn to know and love themselves as well. I mean it as someone whose life was touched by, and can’t quite get her head around the loss of this wicked smart, mischievous librarian I called friend.

I first met Erin Preder on Twitter where she reached out to me about my CritterKin books and programs. Erin was not only a librarian and voracious reader but a writer as well. She and I shared stories we loved and talked about ways to improve our writing. Even more important to me, however, was how Erin embraced and supported my work. It was Erin who introduced me to her principal Ana Wilson and championed my work with other librarians across the U.S. Click on the image below to watch the video from my visit to J.R. Tibbott Elementary to see how articulate and inspiring Erin could be.

All of the above was Erin in professional mode. Although personal and professional were often  inseparable for her, she was also a good friend, amazing mother, and devoted partner. I still remember how honored I felt when she shared the story of her father, how she came to purchase and name her car (names were important to Erin), her health struggles, the medical miracle that was her son Chuckie, how proud she was of the person he was becoming, and how grateful she was to have met her husband Jason. It was like being invited into a very special club where love, hard work and devotion to family paid off. I remember turning to wave good-bye to Erin at the airport and wondering if I should move to Illinois just to be closer to her.

And then the unthinkable happened. Complications from a routine surgery led to being placed on life support with no hope of recovery. Erin passed away on November 17th, 2017. A short note from a family friend let me know and opened a space in my life that no one else can fill. Erin’s Memorial Visitation was held on Saturday, November 25, 2017.

Yes, I know that spirit never dies. Yes, I know that the memories and laughter and photos and the supportive message she once left on my phone will live on, but the thought of never seeing her again is a bit too much to let in right now. And so I’ve been remembering and writing down random thoughts, memories and quotes. Below are my favorites. Please share yours here or at this site:

Random memories:

  • Erin participating in Twitter chats on her stationary bicycle. How she was able to type and ride at the same time I will never know, but we all looked forward to hearing how far she’s gone by the end of the hour.
  • Video after video after video of Chuckie’s races at swim meets. Erin was SO proud of how well he was doing and how much he had improved.
  • Erin’s love of cos-play and costumes.
  • Erin’s love of board games, most of which I’d never heard of.
  • Erin’s many and beautiful tattoos
  • The joy Erin took in redecorating her library and having an artist paint the walls
  • Smaug the bearded dragon who seemed to be a boy one day and a girl the next 😉
  • Stories of her father and cars
  • Her love of good writing and dream of publishing her children’s book
  • Sharing experiences in WOW
  • Her love of all things high tech
  • Plotting and planning how to bring more books and authors to her school
  • Her unflagging help in bringing CritterKin to VVSD
  • Her care and support during difficult personal times

Thank you Erin…

Some people were wondering how to make donations to Chuckie’s college fund. A specific Savings account at Chase has been set up for donations. You can make donations to Charles Llewellyn For Deposit Only, into account ending 3684 at Chase Bank Alternatively, you can Use PayPal to or Send a Check to Jason Preder 1851 Tamahawk Ln Naperville, IL 60564 Please note on the check or the PayPal that the money is intended for the college fund. I can get funds sent to me into his account.


Copyright 2017 by Jena Ball. All Rights Reserved.