Emma Fearon (Mrs Bob / Shabbyshark) 1974-2021

Emma, my friend, my wife, mum to the most incredible kids, her own person, passed away on Saturday. We’re all heartbroken.

Em was the not so invisible hand in my videogame career, the one person I’m proudest to have got to share time on this Earth with – Em was just an amazing person to be around.

For folks who used to frequent the Retro Remakes forums, Em was Mrs Bob. An eternal background presence, the person who even when things were ridiculously tough going for the pair of us, made sure that month in, month out, the place stayed online.

I couldn’t stand the username she chose – she was always more than Mrs Bob, she was Em. She was proud tho, proud to be with me, be by my side and of the community as a whole. To her, Mrs Bob was a way of telling me that I mattered to her. That RR mattered to her. Oh. And for the shits and giggles of tormenting me whilst sitting across the other side of the room, grinning, posting.

I still find it ridiculous, still think it undersold everything she ever did. I don’t think anyone in the community thought for a second that Em wasn’t a huge part of RR existing for as long as it did tho. I think everyone knew. She just liked it all better this way and well, that was that.

Her real passion was in writing tho and she had a wicked way with the written word, playful, cheeky, blunt. Before her health went awry, she had a ball of a time down at a local-ish writing circle with similarly talented folks. If she wasn’t reading, she was writing. If she wasn’t doing either, she was thinking about writing, talking into the night about strands and passages.

Six years ago we’d just finished having the house extended, redecorated, mainly so as to make space for an office she could write in, for a conservatory she could sit in and look out up at the sky and when the sky opened up, listen to the rain hammering off the roof. She loved that.

We’d just finished when her health took a sharp turn for the worst and she never did get to write the stories we’d spend hours discussing. I’ll always be sad that the world didn’t get to see that side of Em outside of a short, affecting, Twine game about abuse and eating disorders.

I have no doubt that if life had bothered to stop happening to us long enough, she’d have wrote some wonderful things – probably about shapeshifting sexy werewolves or something.

(Mind, with apologies because I can’t remember the author or books right now, but somewhere out there people have been reading a couple of quite popular urban fantasy books with a character named after Em starring. Times like this I regret having a forgetful brain and, more so, not having Em to ask and double check.)

That was the amazing thing about getting to spend time with Em though. Her kindness and generosity touched so many that odd things like that would happen.

Even in recent years when she’s been in ridiculous amounts of pain, where we’ve both had so much to get through, she’d still find time to support the local animal rescue somehow, to put her money where her mouth was and lift people up – from local taxi drivers, to folks struggling without a roof of their own over their heads and on. She never stopped giving a shit, she never stopped helping. Couldn’t even manage getting a coffee without making sure there was extra money for a bigger tip or to throw in towards getting someone a hot drink who needed one.

She brought that same love of life, that same belief that some things are just the right things that you need to do – not just talk about – to our home life too. She imbued our kids with a profound sense of what is unjust in this world and how it won’t fix itself. We both did but I always thought Em as the one who’d be one step ahead of me. Mainly because she invariably was.

Em believed in unions, in wanting everyone lifting up so they could thrive, in wanting a world where people can just be themselves in safety, where we you know, try and scorch the Earth a fair bit less so that other people can have a go on it.

That sense of justice was often a sense of sadness too tho, especially over the past decade, especially especially during the pandemic and especially as her inability to do as much as she wanted due to ill health dragged on.

I’m painting a rosy picture here and I am biased, she was my best friend as well as partner. Our life together has never been plain sailing. She was, like me, prone to the most ridiculous fuck ups and whoops moments, Em was human and all that entails, we always said that was the strength in our relationship, the glue that held us together alongside a mutual enjoyment of each other’s company, that we knew each of us could get ourselves in a pickle from the off and accepted each other as who they were.

I never wanted to change Em, Em never wanted to change me. Where would the fun be in that? I mean, we’d have less to talk about and that’d be no good.

Part of the reason all this hurts as much as it does, you know? Decades together, with crappy health and a chaotic life and we somehow managed to find time to still miss each other’s company when apart and to never run out of things to talk about, wrongs we wanted righted, films or whatever we loved, books we’d read.

No shit I’m going to miss her. Em was an amazing person to be around and I’ve always felt privileged to get to share my life with her, even if I remained forever mystified how anyone could walk down the street accumulating a cat following like she would. Taking a walk with Em was like meandering down the road with some sort of Hellboy/Pied Piper crossover.

This probably explains why my first stupid thought when she passed away was “fuck, the cat’s going to kill me for going home without her” and only after that, anything remotely sensible.

The next while is going to be hard. We’ve been struggling for a while now, skint and firefighting too many corners. Rather than getting to fully enjoy what time we had left together, it’s been constant battling to keep our heads above water, to keep the family together and safe. Things are going to be tighter still now it’s just me and the kids.

I’m fairly sure that I’ll forever be sad that things weren’t easier, of the time we wasted on things which we could have spent doing things we enjoyed doing, together. I’ll always be sad that the past five years has been spent surviving with Em in considerable pain and time together growing shorter, money getting tighter, stresses getting more profound.

But if I’m honest, there could never be enough time. There never was. I’ll still always be grateful that I got to spend the best part of my life with the best person I could.

Em, then. Mrs Bob. Shabbyshark. I’m going to fucking miss you and so are the kids and the cats. Even the cats that weren’t ours. Especially the cats that weren’t ours. What on Earth did you do, hypnotise them?