For Susan

Isn’t it funny how just a song can immediately take us back to a specific event in our lives?  How many times have any of us heard a song on the radio and the memories and emotions attached to it come flooding back?  That happened to me yesterday.

I was in the car with my youngest daughter, Olivia, and “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap” from AC/DC came on the radio.  I always and immediately think of my friend, Susan, when I hear it, as odd as that may sound.  You see, Susan and my other Bunco friends in Georgia threw me a baby shower when I was pregnant with Olivia.  While I was opening the gifts, I heard that song playing on the TV.  It will now be forever burned into my brain and I will always fondly think of Susan.  To fully understand the significance of all of this, please allow me to paint the picture for you.

Susan was my next door neighbor when I lived in a town called Hoschton in Georgia.  As soon as I moved in, she came over and greeted me with her wonderful, sweet Southern accent.  Throughout my pregnancy with my second daughter, Lauren, she was always checking on me and stopping by to see me.  She was the one that invited me to play Bunco with a wonderful group of women in the neighborhood.  Susan introduced me to people and made me feel so welcome there.  I couldn’t have asked for a better neighbor.  After Lauren was born, I was out for a walk with her and Susan stopped me to take a peak at the baby.  I can still hear her in my head saying “take off that baby’s hat and let me get a good look at her”.  She was always so kind and full of Southern hospitality.

When I became pregnant with Olivia, Susan and the other women surprised me with a Bunco baby shower.  We would play, and during our breaks, I would open presents.  I was given one gift in particular that, at the time, I had no idea how much it would mean to me now.  It was a recordable ornament.  I remember when I opened it, Susan took it from me to show me how it worked.  I still have the original recording and I keep it safe so nothing will happen to it.  When you push the button, you can hear Susan’s voice saying “What’s the baby’s name?”  I can be heard saying “Olivia”.  Then Susan said, “Everyone say Hi Olivia”!  And all of my friends repeat the greeting to my unborn child.  “Dirty Deeds” was playing in the background.

The week after Olivia was born, we moved to Florida.  In typical Susan fashion, she mailed me a letter filled with pictures of all of my friends and neighbors so I wouldn’t feel so alone.  Unfortunately, the one picture she didn’t include was one of herself.  I desperately wish she had now.  I have no pictures of her.  I made a few trips up to Georgia to see her and other friends after the move.  And we stayed in contact on the phone for awhile, but life has a way of taking over and we didn’t talk as much as time went by.

We stayed in Florida for a couple of years before moving to Maryland.  While in Maryland, I received a phone call from my other next door neighbor in Hoschton.  She asked when was the last time I had heard from Susan.  I told her it had been a few months.  She wanted to know if I had heard.  Heard what, I asked.  She informed me that Susan had been diagnosed with Stage 4 breast cancer.  After I got off the phone, I immediately got on the computer and began researching Stage 4 cancer and the prognosis.  My heart sank.  I waited a few weeks and I called Susan.  She sounded good and said she was doing much better.  She told  me about her kids and her treatments.  Susan said she was getting better and that she felt she was going to beat “this cancer thing”.  I didn’t call her as much as I had wanted to because I wanted to give her peace to recover.

A few months after my last contact with Susan, I found out that she had gotten much worse.  The cancer was gone from her breast, but it had moved to her stomach and her brain.  Devastated at the news, I sat down to write her a letter.  I wrote about how truly blessed I had been to know her and what a dynamic influence she had had in my life.  I told her in the letter how much I loved her and valued her.  Sadly, I never had the chance to mail it as she passed away the very next day after I wrote it.  I still have that letter.  I keep it under the ornament containing her voice and the card she sent to me with all of the pictures she took.

Susan was one of the most remarkable women I have ever met and I still miss her to this day.  Even with her passing, I learned something from her.  At her funeral, they had a slideshow with all sorts of pictures of her.  Pictures of Susan when she was young, with her kids, with her husband and family.  Pictures of Susan being silly were my favorites, because that’s who she was.  While I watched the show through my tears, it hit me that I don’t have any pictures of me.  If I were to pass, my kids would have no pictures to remember me.  Every since Susan’s funeral, I am much more open to having my picture taken.

She has been gone several years now.  I still can’t bring myself to delete her contact information from my phone or my email.  And, even now, I cry when I think of her.  She knows how I feel about her, but there is something so satisfying about telling someone to their face just how much they mean to you.  Telling them how much you love them.

So, that is why you may see my eyes tear up whenever I hear that one AC/DC song.  I always think of her and that one evening at my baby shower.  And maybe one day, when I am strong enough, I will delete her email address and phone number.  It will be my way of saying goodbye.  But, I’m not ready yet.  Maybe it will take another 8 years or so before I will be ready.  Until then, I will hold her close to my heart.  Susan, I love you and miss you much.  Hugs to you, my sweet friend.

 

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