Goodnight Susan; rest in peace

standard February 6, 2012 10 responses

At a conference a few summers ago, in the middle of the chaos that are all blogger events, I was invited up to Susan’s room to chat. Despite brutal chemo treatments she was there, scheduled to speak and determined to be there no matter what.

When I got to her room I found her in bed, sitting up, eyes bright with excitement. She, Leticia, another one of their roommates, and I chatted for a while, randomly having an animated discussion about Judaism. After a bit the conversation turned to the reason I’d been invited up to their room.

They wanted my professional help.

Since Tiny Prints had just started doing personalized greeting cards, the girls were hopeful that they’d be interested in working with the American Cancer Society to create special cards based on the designs already being used as eCards on the More Birthdays site.

I had my doubts about how that project would go. I had my doubts about how far my personal influence would take it. But I looked into Susan’s shining hopeful face, and I didn’t have the heart to quash her dreams.

There she was, sitting in bed, too tired to go be part of the conference hoopla, and still, she was thinking about others.

That was Susan. 

When she got cancer she started campaigning to inform and educate others about Inflammatory Breast Cancer.  Then she started a site aimed at offering support and a voice to moms fighting cancer.

When her lymphedema got bad, she worked to support Cricket’s Answer an organization that helps women fighting cancer get wigs, lymphedema sleeves, and other things they need day to day during their fight, and yet can’t always afford. She also ardently supported LympheDIVAS, the company that makes pretty lymphedema sleeves so the women wearing them can keep feeling beautiful.

That was Susan. 

Last Summer, between treatments she came to Asheville, NC to accept a Bloganthropy award and to speak, once again, to a room packed with bloggers.

I’m so grateful that she was able to come despite being so tired. I got to hug her that weekend — gently of course so as to not hurt her — but at least I got to hug her.

Little did I know it would be the last time I saw her.

A few days ago, knowing full well that she was in hospice and that her days were numbered, I had a dream about Susan. I had arrived at some event, and she was there, sitting at a table, looking her usual radiant, beautiful self. “You’re here!” I stammered. But inside I thought “You look so serene, so peaceful!”

I woke up, convinced that she had passed away, and was relieved to hear that she had not.

Today Susan finally did pass away. I’m typing this through my tears. This morning the world lost an amazing soul when she took her last breath.

I’m so sad that I’ll never hug her again. I’m so sad that I’ll never hear another one of her fabulous ideas for how to make things better for others. I’m so sad for her husband and her two little boys. And I’m so sad for those of you who never got to meet her or got to be touched by her infectious desire to do good.

I’m not sad that she’s no longer in pain.

Rest in peace Susan. We will continue the work you started. You will live on in all of our hearts and all of our efforts. 

After that bedroom meeting with Susan and Leticia I went home and sat down with the business development team at Tiny Prints. “This is really important to me and it’s really important to my friend,” I told them. And miracle of all miracles… they listened. It took many, many months of planning and discussion, but today Susan’s American Cancer Society cards can be found on the Tiny Prints site. May they hopefully lead to more birthdays for more moms.

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