I posted this six years ago on December 4, 2012 on my former blog. Susan is on my mind today and many days. I think of her often when I am with my Little, listening to her. Remembering to really listen. To stay engaged. She was so good at that. Asking questions and listening to the answers.
Dear Silly Susan,
It has been nearly 24 hours since you left us. Mom said she woke this morning and felt deep within her that your were no longer here. I cannot say I feel the same.
I brought some breakfast stuff to Avon Street for your brothers and sister-in-law. We chatted, mostly about shit I don’t care about. But then, what else do we talk about? You? Well, yes, I guess we could talk about you. But you’re not really gone, right? Right!? Because I cannot possibly wrap my brain around this reality.
My life without you in it.
Our lives without you in it.
This world without you in it.
Yesterday you were still here but not conscious. I walked the BU campus with my gear, aware of you and aware of more: the unusually mild weather, the lovely strong breeze, the sun and the blue sky—things that, in the past, I might have taken for granted. But now it felt different. I was appreciating it for you too. I sat on a bench and willed myself to feel the air and sun on my face and send it to you through some telepathic wavelength.
The night before I was given an amazing gift. The chance to talk to you for what I thought would be the last time. I was preoccupied with what to say to you. What could I say to help you feel better? No words would bring you more oxygen. What could I say to help you feel less alone. Very little I think.
It was no surprise that you took the lead as I sat down next to you: “I guess there’s not much time. Not as much as I thought. . .” you told me through short breaths, the tube coming from your nose. “I can’t really breathe and they can’t fix it.”
I didn’t want to stay long. I didn’t want to be selfish and rob others of their time with you. I have had my time with you. Definitely not enough but, good time, with stories and laughter and meals and hugs and tears even.
I looked you in the eye and although it wasn’t necessary, told you I loved you.
Your eyes were so big and so brown and more soulful than I ever remember them being before. It was as if your entire life, all your feelings and emotions and memories, were stored safely within them. Preparing for travel. You were still in there, beneath that failing body. As I left you told me that you hoped you’d see me again. “But if I don’t” you added, as I reached the door, “go forth with this young man”—and by young man you meant my new boyfriend, who you didn’t hesitate to grill me about shortly after I sat down.
A few hours later I was granted the privilege of a “goodnight” with you. I kept this one even shorter for the same reasons as the first visit. Or maybe I was still feeling totally helpless and incapable of saying something right. I still wish I had planned better for this, thought of something better to say. But all I came up with was “I’ll keep an eye on Gus”. This is not because I think he needs watching. He will not want for love, nor does he even really need me. I meant, I think, that both Kim and Gus will always hold their place in the family. This is fact and will never change.
“Thanks for taking the torch for me” you breathed out, “because I can’t do it anymore”. You were so tired from the fight. So tired.
And now you are gone and I will remind myself that you are not in pain anymore. You are no longer gasping for breath, feeling scared or worried. You are no longer feeling weird, awful side effects of all the poison put into your body in an effort to save it.
I am left with memories; a walk with you on the cape this past summer, slow but steady. It was your idea to cut a hole in the kitchen wall of my new house to make a pass-though window into the TV room (it will always be a brilliant idea and one of my favorite parts of the house). I have the memory of many rides in the back of your truck when I was a kid. I would holler up to you in the front, yelling over the wind “Take us under the highway!” (this was so we could create an echo under the overpass by yelling as we traveled underneath). “You got it, kiddo!” you yelled back from the driver’s seat. Carving pumpkins, baking cookies. Building my fort with me (complete with a draw bridge and a trap door – it was quite sweet!). Waking me at four in the morning to take me to see the reenactment of the Paul Revere ride. You coming to my soccer games and my marching band competitions. Our most recent project – me impersonating my mom and you impersonating Amelia Aerhart as a silly birthday present to my mom. How grateful I am, to have that video! So many dinners and lunches together. That’s what I will remember. That and a lot more.
So, although I know I wont be alone in it, I will try and take the torch for you. With any luck I will not burn anything down.
Cyd the Kid