I remember so vividly beautiful you standing by the window in your blue dress, Susan. The one that Jess gave to you because it fit you so perfectly and you both knew it was the one.
I remember how nervous you were–how excited you were–how ready you were.
I remember how Curt calmed your nerves in a short, whispered phone call that I barely heard as I said prayers of calm, prayers of strength for you from the other side of the room.
But you didn’t need my prayers, Susan. You really didn’t.
You didn’t need my prayers because you knew what you wanted to say. You knew how powerful your words were and how desperately they needed to be heard.
You knew that you had a message, and you knew that you were not alone. You were speaking for thousands. You were speaking for thousands who walked in your shoes, who will walk in your shoes, who do walk in your shoes.
You were speaking for thousands of mothers, daughters, sisters, aunts, and cousins. You were speaking for thousands of fathers, sons, brothers, and uncles whose loved ones experienced very same thing. You were speaking for so, so many.
And, as I watched you on stage, as I held hands with our family of girlfriends and as we smiled up at you, as I watched the thousands in the audience drying their tear-streaked cheeks, as I thought of Jessica who stayed with you backstage beforehand, as I pictured your husband and boys at home, and as I recalled long talks with you, lazy backyard playdates with you, and the tons of advice, support, and love from you, I felt so very proud.
Susan speaking at BlogHer 2010
I felt so very lucky. I felt so very blessed that you were part of my life, one of my favorite people and dearest friends.
And Susan, though I am angry and heartbroken that you have gone, I am confident that you are now comfortable, pain-free, and at peace. I believe that now you have answers, that you have hugged all of the angels and saints you’ve read about and prayed to, that you are walking hand in hand with your grandma, and that you’re hanging out with all of your favorite astrophysicists, researchers, and scientists.
I know that you are already working on something up there–creating some kind of community or showing everyone how to Tweet or how to create the most awesome Pinterest boards ever. I bet you’re snacking on diet coke and dark chocolate with sea salt and finishing every project you’ve always wanted to finish. I bet you’re sharing stories about your sweet, smart boys and your amazing husband, and I bet you’re teaching and sharing and learning. And I’m sure there are a bunch of beagle pups at your feet.
I bet you’re making lunch dates with all of the Women in Planetary Science who came before you. I know you are dancing and laughing and rope-swinging with your Mothers With Cancer sisters; I believe you will be guiding and praying for those who continue to fight.
And Susan, I bet that when it’s our turn, when that day comes, that you will be right there at the entrance of those pearly gates to welcome each and every one of us in–your arms open, your smile wide, and your eyes bright. Just like always.
We love you, my friend. And we already miss you like crazy. And we will all make sure that no matter what, your fight–the fight of fights–will not be in vain.
So what am I doing now–today–to make sure I’m doing you proud, my sweet friend?
Here’s what I’m doing, and I hope that others will join me:
- I donated. To your charity, Susan. To your fight. To the Inflammatory Breast Cancer Research Foundation. Because we need more research on IBC. Now.
- I talked. To my kids about cancer. In a way that was not scary but was as honest and direct as I thought they could handle. And I used a book that I have used before and that is familiar to my kids–but a book that is certainly worth revisiting. It’s In Mommy’s Garden written by Neyal Ammary, a childhood friend and talented writer and illustrated by Christopher Risch. And it’s really well done.
- I scheduled. My yearly check-up with my ob/gyn. Because I got a notice in the mail that I needed to call in January and I never did. So I scheduled because it’s the least I can do to stay on top of my health and my family’s.
- I cried. In front of my kids. Cora was home today when I heard the news, so she saw–and knew–how upset I was. And I cried again when Maddy and Owen came home. They have experienced loved ones’ passing but not recently; they’re just now getting to the age where they understand more. I think it’s okay–healthy–for our kids to see us cry. Plus, I couldn’t help it.
something small: a sweet story about remembering
- I read. I wanted to know what I should say and how I could best explain Susan’s passing to Maddy, Owen, and Cora who knew her well. So I spent the greater part of the early evening scouring resources for kids. I found fabulous resources on PBS Parents: When Families Grieve. And though I know my kids will not be as touched as will Susan’s or their family, neighbors, and classmates, I still wanted to have the words ready in case I needed them. I printed out the Elmo Storybook, something small, to read to Cora tomorrow while Maddy and Owen are at school; it is a sweet book with a strong, gentle message about focusing on the small–but meaningful–things in order to work through grief. And I appreciate and will use the language that PBS Parents provides to offer explanations to my kiddos as the need arises.
- I printed. The brochure from the Inflammatory Breast Cancer Research Foundation about signs of IBC, and I will share the link with every woman I know. Every. Woman. I. Know.
- I learned. About two new-to-me cancer organizations that I look forward to supporting, thanks to the amazing Kristen Hammond: The Cancer Card Xchange and PreventCancer.org. Awesome and awesome. And worthy of our money.
- I ordered. Several of the American Cancer Society Birthday cards. Again. Because I know how much the partnership between ACS and Tiny Prints meant to Susan and the incredible Leticia, who worked together with the also incredible Jessica Rosenberg to make it all happen. So yes, I’ll support that happy partnership in a heartbeat.
- I laughed. With my kids, with my friends, with their kids. Over silly things like Brady and his puppy pal eating puppy treat ice-cream today, on Brady’s second birthday, because we could. And because we should. Because life is too short not to.
- I looked. At the moon. For you. From you. Never have I noticed a moon so full as we had tonight, Susan, and we all think it’s from you. And we thank you.
Huge, sincere thanks to the many readers who have emailed or tweeted or facebooked me in the last few weeks, offering their words of support and love for Susan. Thank you to the many people who shared their kind words on the @whymommy love fest page. It means so much to me, I can’t even properly express to you. More importantly, it means the world to Susan’s family. Thank you.
This has been a difficult time, and though we are continuing the learning in the every day around here, quite honestly, it’s been hard to come back and share it. I do look forward to getting back on track in the next few days, but in the mean time I do appreciate your continued thoughts and prayers for Susan’s family. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
Thanks to the talented Amie Adams of Mamma Loves for the insanely awesome photo of tonight’s moon. And thanks to Susan for giving it to us.