"Outside a dog a book is man's best friend, inside a dog it is too dark to read!" -Groucho Marx========="The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid." -Jane Austen========="I don’t believe in the kind of magic in my books. But I do believe something very magical can happen when you read a good book."-JK Rowling========"I spend a lot of time reading." -Bill Gates=========“Ahhh. Bed, book, kitten, sandwich. All one needed in life, really.” -Jacqueline Kelly=========

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Grief

From Susan's Facebook page
I don't often veer off and post about non-book related topics. But today I am.

A year ago I reconnected with a junior high friend via Facebook. We hadn't kept up with each other in high school or beyond but with the connecting-ness of Facebook we were back together. Or sort of. You know what I mean. Facebook connects us in a hands off sort of way since we still lived a state away from one another. We see photos, learn a bit about what foods they eat, and who they hang out with. And in my case, I only see those posts if I happen to be looking at the right moment, since I don't often scroll too far down on my feed.

Anyway, I reconnected with Susan and learned at the same time that her breast cancer had returned. She had been battling it for eight years. Over the course of the next few months I learned that she was receiving a new type of treatment. She was hopeful but tired. I could tell. Friends who still lived in our hometown organized food for the family and collected money for incidentals. I watched from afar, feeling like a voyeur.

Every time I read one of Susan's posts, I was struck by how centered she was. She seemed so loving and kind, taking joy in the simplest of things. Most of her posts didn't even mention cancer. One day she posted. "Geese overhead. Bliss." Those were the types of posts that made me realize what kind of person she was...living outside herself while doing battle within.

But when she did post about cancer, she was worrying about us, her friends. Here is a snippet from one of those posts:
One of the things I’ve learned while dealing with this damned disease is that it takes a lot of energy to keep up precious friendships and to manage emotions that aren’t always helpful. Anger, for one. Or just plain grief for all we’ve lost....I just want to say, if I’ve disappointed you, or hurt your feelings for any reason, it’s not because that behavior is OK with me...I wonder sometimes if people with terminal diseases don’t lose their shine as they fade away so that those who are left won’t miss them quite so much. Rather like surly teenagers: how soon are you going to college? 😏 Anyway- just thought I’d let you know what it’s like in here and to express my love and gratitude for your grace and kindness... 
My life got really busy mid-May through the first of July. I stopped paying close attention to a lot of things, including how Susan was doing. In fact, to my shame, I really didn't notice that I hadn't seen any posts from Susan for a while. Today I learned the reason. Susan died on May 17th.

One week before her death, on May 10th, she posted this video on her Facebook page. Click link. It is one of those wonderful videos that shows time-lapsed photography of mushrooms growing. At the end, the narrator says that we all need to pay attention to what nature is telling us before it is too late for all of us. He then went on to say that if he were to die to today he would have least tried to make a difference to help change the course we are on. Then he asked, what have you done to make a difference? Even in the midst of a battle with cancer, Susan was concerned about life beyond herself.

Two of her children posted tributes to their mother on Facebook:
 "Love can seem like an odd thing when we lose those we care for most, but we must remember that love is the chisel that turns us into the beautiful sculptures that we become throughout our lives. With that, we must never fear that love even with the knowledge that one day we’ll lose the artist that made us, otherwise we would be formless and opaque. My mother danced in every aspect of her life with grace and beauty." -Sam
"In this physical life, she was the most radiant force I'd ever known. Wise and courageous, talented and passionate, loquacious and witty, gentle and ferocious, compassionate and balanced, gorgeous and mirthful, intentional and sassy; her influence on mine and so many other lives was utterly unforgettable and unendingly meaningful." -Ema 
Aren't they lovely, lovely tributes? If only we all lived our lives in way to be worthy of such tributes in the end.
Susan as I remember her in the 1970s
And for me? Susan will always be that crazy friend I loved to hang out with in the old days. The gal who always knew just the right thing to say. Once in French class our teacher bragged aloud to the class about Susan,  she spelled her name "Sioux" at the time, because the teacher ran into her at a store when she was with a friend. Sioux apparently did a little curtsy when she met the teacher's friend, because of course she did, and exclaimed "enchantee", which means "enchanted" in French. Susan was like that. Delighted to meet everyone. Delighted with life.

Good bye, old pal. Thanks for the love and the reminders to be best people we can be.




6 comments:

  1. What a lovely tribute; she sounds like a wonderful woman who handled illness, life, and death gracefully. May we all learn a lesson from that. I am sorry for your loss and it has me thinking about high school classmates who have died since graduation as I have my reunion next month.

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  2. A beautiful tribute to what seems like a beautiful woman. Thinking of you.

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  3. She sounds like she lit up the world, and that it's a darker place now without her. I will try to remember this post when I worry about caring too much or being so open and loving. To truly live is sometimes to grow through hurt and pain.

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    1. Yes. Susan was a good example of how to live fully.

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  4. She sounds like a very kind and graceful woman - it’s so sad that her life ended before it should have. This is a really lovely post about her and definitely will make people think about how they are living their lives.
    Christine @ LifeWithAllTheBooks

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  5. What a lovely, timely post in honour of old friends, kindness and paying attention. Thank you for sharing something so personal.

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