Friday, July 23, 2004

Remembering Suzie

Every year that passes from Suzie’s death brings same emotions and memories but without the sorrow. Maybe that's what you call healing. Two years ago, today, we lost Suzie and gained a new perspective on ourselves.

A few days ago, I read a quote from Elizabeth Edwards, she’s the wife of the Democratic nominee for vice-president, John Edwards. Eight years ago, the Edwards’ teen-age son was killed in a car accident. Elizabeth Edwards said in reference to the tragedy, “the good thing about it is that it allows you to start over.”

That quote took me by surprise. It sounded so callous. Maybe it was my bias, knowing that at age 48, she gave birth to two more children after the loss of her son. Did two new children easily replace her son?

The more I thought about what she said, the more it made sense. These weren’t off-handed remarks or words taken out of context, these were words of someone who confronted tragedy head on, dealt with death in a manner that made her own life better. I not sure you can truly appreciate that quote if you haven’t swam in those deepest of dark waters. To know the specifics of the hurt and loss and then have courage to move on is truly heroic. There are some of us who have begun to show that same heroism.

It is widely known that my Dad had, at least outwardly, the hardest time coping with the loss of Suzie, but he might have been the first to reflect the notion of starting fresh.

I remember first hearing of the plans to sell his house in Castro Valley—the house we grew up in—and feeling very much against it. His rationale was that he relived memories of Suzie in every room and, by extension it became a haunted house for him. I thought why would you want to forget those memories? But, in fact, it has nothing to do with forgetting, but starting anew.

He has since moved to a new home in Tracy and for the first time he’s actually contemplating hanging a picture of Suzie in his house, although, maybe a little too large of a photo. Some might call it a mural. But hey, why not start big?

For my Mom, who was probably the most adjusted and most heroic of us who were effected by the loss of Suzie, the changes are more subtle, possibly less starting new and more starting over.

My mother can adapt and find the bright side of any situation. It’s a trait I believe I have learned from her. She never sought or accepted anybody’s pity. She accepted the outcome of Suzie’s illness and together we continued traditions and created new ones. All the while, sprinkling in timely memories of Suzie, just enough to add to any occasion, but not too much to overpower everyone. Much like the Sunday dinners we use to have.

One of the most amazing developments following the passing of Suzie was the reuniting of my Mom and my Grandmother. Without any doubt in my mind, I can say that their coming together would have been the happiest thing Suzie could ever imagine.

Today, my Mom and Jack visit my grandmother for dinner most every Friday, including tonight and they talk without any animosity. As oppose to my Dad, going backward helped the healing begin for my Mom.

I believe the hardest job was placed in Mark’s lap. In regards to the life Sean and Luke have without their mother, I want to be very candid in giving this praise to Mark. I have yet to see any occasion where Mark’s decisions have ever deviated from anything Suzie would have done for those kids. I knew my sister better than anyone. I knew what she stood for and I know precisely what she would have wanted for her kids.

Everybody knows Sean and Luke would be playing baseball as soon as they possibly could and that, at least we hoped, that they would become happy and loving little boys. Turns out we were right. I know she is very happy with the job Mark has done and we are indebted to his parenting skills.

For myself, I’ve made similar changes in my life. I’ve moved to my own apartment and I’ve been a part of my Mom and Grandmother’s reunification and I spend more time with my Dad than when he lived a few miles away from me. More so, the changes are in my attitude.

I’ve always been a worrywart. Obsessively fretting over a litany of scenarios.

“What am I going to do with me life?”

“When am I going to graduate from college?”

When, what, who, how come, whatever!

The old adage, “whatever doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger” seems to fit me now. I don’t worry anymore and, at the same time, I’m not even close to indifferent. My perspective is completely different. I see problems, perceived or not, as small, if not life threatening; easily worked out or adaptable.

You know, maybe it’s just the natural procession of maturity. And God knows that I have the gray hairs to show for it.

I like to think of her passing as a call to all that says there is so much to do in our lives and so little time. Don't waste it.

So, today, I ask for everyone to take a moment to remember Suzie as a sister, a daughter, a mother, a cousin, a niece or as a friend and know that her love continues to help us even in death.

Don’t forget to call your brothers and sisters today.


pryncess711 said...

Again you are so right in what youve said.. everyone is healing in their own way.. who would have thought 2 years ago your mom and grandma talking and now they do as no time has passed.. As for you I've seen the changes for the year she died to last year. It was rough and you didnt know if you were coming or going. Now as from last year to today I think i can say everyone is starting to see the Old Steve again, strong , funny smart guy,and heck your even playing baseball (you'll get better:). Suzie is proud of you and she always will be, dont ever forget that...

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Ahem......spell check!!!

Pops said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Pops said...

I'm not good at loss- so, selfishly and intentionally, did not comment or even read this post-I wish I had.

Frame this one- Print it out and save it for Sean, Luke, and anyone you ever meet on the street to read.

This, my friend, is what pen and paper and, I guess, blogs were invented for. Communicating ideas, thoughts, memories in order to lift the spirits and emotions of not just the author, but everyone that comes in contact with them.

We all suffer loss. Everyday for the past 16 years I think of and have one way conversations with my dad- everyday for the past 9 years I have had these same conversations with the man who stepped in and took his place until, sadly, he too past on.

These thoughts, dreams, memories never go away, nor should they- they only, as you said, become new- new for us to remember, new for others to share-

Keep writing, bloging, talking, whatever it takes so that you and everyone else never forgets Suzie or the countless others we all have lost.

And, one day, when you pass, and you will (and that event will probably involve D cell batteries and a goat), I’ll be there to make fun of you.

And as Forest says, that’s all I have to say about that.

Anonymous said...

And thank god you can move on by stealing money from your nephew's (from their mother's life insurance policy). And a bunch of other crap you've done. You wanna be.