“Understanding mortality is entirely personal and you won’t know it until you face it,” Lipson recalled Ivins had said to her. “The cancer will probably kill you in the end, but moving ahead, do as much as you can…until you can’t.”

“And then it’s okay to let go.”

Update: To listen to Neal Conan’s fine tribute to Eden on NPR’s Talk of the Nation, click here.

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Charles Kaiser is the author of The Gay Metropolis and 1968 in America. He has been media editor for Newsweek, a member of the metro staff of The New York Times, and a reporter for The Wall Street Journal, where he covered the press and book publishing. To learn more, visit charleskaiser.com.