"I never really liked sunny days.
When the skies were gloomy with heavy dark clouds... that's when I felt the happiest.
Mom never allowed me to dress in black, and I knew that that was the protection I needed.
Father always yelled at me to put down the volume, but I needed loud rock and roll.
I was sheltered for most of my life.
But then, The Sandman came.
My cousin, who I really admired (still do), would draw these very goth and interesting looking characters and I loved them! She then handed me DEATH: THE HIGH COST OF LIVING, and it changed everything. I was 13. I didn't know someone could write like that. I didn't know there was someone out there who thought like I did.
It sounds melodic and over the top, but I was a very sheltered child, 13 years old, living in a 3rd world country, in a city that did not have a single library. It was very hard, but one by one, I started reading all of his works that I could find throughout the years. But definitely, The Sandman series are special to me.
Neil Gaiman's writing touches that delicate line in between life and death with such gracefulness that the reader barely notices how fragile existence is. That is what I enjoy the most in his works. There's no death for the mind - that's what his work taught me.
I briefly "met" him once and got my books signed. He looked into my eyes and smiled. Little he knew how far I traveled to be there that day and smile back at him.
My "estranged" friend... soul as gloomy as mine, mind as endless as the sky.
Cheers!" - Flávia
Flávia and I met at MATC. For many semesters I'd seen this amazing work credited to a "Fly" and then one semester there was this girl in the back of my two classes named Flávia, easy to remember because I'd just read The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie for the first time, and I realized she was the "Fly" I'd been admiring for so long. Since then we've remained friends, getting to meet Neil Gaiman together, talking over books once a month a book club. I'm forever in awe of her talent as an artist and a mother, and after this toast, as a writer too.