the day after. Susan’s gone.

i dreamed about her yesterday morning. we were some kind of Thelma and Louise, secret agents laughing, doing vague, crazy dream-things until little feet woke me at 5:45 am and i rose blurry from the fog and i wondered.

and then i waited – edgy and wrong – all day, and then i heard.

i like to imagine the dream was her saying goodbye. i like to imagine i will see her in the stars. i don’t know if i really believe either of these things, but i leave the door cracked to the possibility.

i do know that i will look at the sky with wonder for the rest of my life, because she taught me.

she will always be a teacher, in my mind. she was my friend, as she was a thousand people’s friend. she was Marty‘s friend, particularly: the real Thelma to her Louise. thank you, Marty, for sharing her. you two were damn lucky in each other.

Susan was one of my very first blogging friends. one of the first people who opened this space up and grabbed me with words by the bones of my wrists, building for me a world of the real that has nothing to do with in the flesh.

except when the flesh has ceased and you know there will be no more words. and you say to no one in particular, hey, there seems to be a Volkswagen parked on my chest. it’s made of cement. and then your heart swells up and leaks out your eyes

this is my first real experience of what it means to lose one of our own. i see us all out here as parts of a web, knots in an enormous 3D crocheted blanket snarled together like one of Dave’s rhizomes, all marvellously, intricately interconnected.

for me, Susan was one of the key knots, a touchstone by which I knew and understood the whole. the empty space that was hers, then, is distributed and strange, the grief ephemeral and yet amplified.

she was not mine, or yours, i know. yet she gave herself to us.

last night, after the kids and i lay in their little beds in their new room under a ceiling speckled with projected stars, i came downstairs and i looked up the comments she’d left here, over the years.

seventy-odd little messages over nearly five years, plus a couple of dozen emails. one afternoon together, running in the rain. gifts, each one.

Susan was adamant that what matters in life – what survives – is what we put into the world: publications and people.

i sat here last night re-reading these comments like old love letters, smiling through the tears that stung and dropped. and i thought, this is what we blog for.

i celebrate her tonight through a few of her words. private words, scattered across my own…augmenting them, making them more. they were a gift to me, these, and the other hundred messages or so. maybe i’m just giddy with the gravity of sorrow and all, but i keep thinking, don’t bogart that Susan. share.

inhale deep, while you’re here. breathe her in.

March, 2007. it has always been her perspective on the term “mommyblogger” that gave it dignity, for me:

Personally, I love the term mommyblogger when applied correctly to those
of us who write about our kids
 and delight in it (and who aren’t currently professional
writers or claim other labels and reject the term).

It implies and acknowledges the community inherent in child-raising, and it gives
voice to the nameless
thousands out there who have for centuries carried babies, held
little hands, wiped noses, and helped children learn.

The thousands — millions — tens of millions — who give their all to helping these little children
learn to talk,
read, cook, laugh, love, and find themselves in a big, scary world.
The tens of millions who,
in a world of “Dr” this
and “Mr” that, are known primarily by one name — Mommy.

I am proud to be a Mommy, and proud to be a mommyblogger. That’s my choice,
but right now it feels pretty wonderful.

– whymommy

May, 2008. her capacity for presence, even from far away, floored me. the one time i met her, she made me feel like i was the only person in the world. when her gaze was trained on you, literally or figuratively, you had her whole heart for a minute.

Thinking of you today.

My neighbor over the fence and I chatted about you today. We explained to her mother just
how far away PEI is,
 and how your writing resonates with our souls. She and I have never
talked much, but as we shared our
favorites and wished you well, it was amazing to see.
– whymommy

June, 2008. i wrote about pipers at a funeral, just a musing. and she shot straight back, from the hip. i had forgotten this one, until last night. it took my breath. please read. i don’t think Susan will ever be forgotten, but i hear her. can we find a way to honour this, in our big old crocheted blanket way?


I don’t want tears and mournful songs at my funeral. I want parents and children to
gather, to take my
 children in their arms, and to hug them closely when I can’t anymore.
They can sing if they like, but I really
just hope that friends and family will focus on life, and a
future that will encompass my children even when

I am no longer here to set up playdates and parties. I don’t mind if everyone
forgets me, but I could not bear it if
they forgot my children.
– whymommy

April, 2010. she was a rocket scientist, which makes me smile. i can barely add six digits. but we were both researchers at heart, for all the disciplinary differences, lovers of ideas and knowledge. what i realized last night is that we were bound, too, by journeys that both confronted the spectre of separating parent from child, in death. my writing began there, and has ended in healing. would that Susan’s trajectory could have been so clean.

Your voice is a dear one to me, and I am forever grateful that you did reach out on that day.
You have taught me
 so much about loss, and about daring to move on, while
never, ever forgetting.

Last week I heard the name “Finn,” and I snapped to attention, head swiveling so fast
to see the little boy being called
in the park. I thought for sure it must have been a mistake,
and, indeed, he had already disappeared behind the

climbing tree. I only caught a glimpse of his sneakers.

I thought of you, then, and Finn and Oscar and Posey and Dave, and wanted to tell you.

I know because of you that telling you that I remember him doesn’t hurt.
I hope, at least, that that is still true.

I remember Finn, and I am able to talk now to babylost mamas with an open heart,
not running away from the
topic, all because of you.

November, 2011. the last comment she left me. it makes me nod. yep: recognizing luck, counselling belief in beauty, in hope. stretching beyond me to the wisdom of perspective. yeh, that was Susan.

My map? Gone, pressed neatly into the family Bible, history upon history,
not mattering in the end. In the end, all I have is this hand I hold, and I cling tightly,
for he is all that I have.

There is beauty in relationships yet, bon … wait for it, the beauty will surprise you
again even while you mourn the losses of ten.

You are lucky in yours, as I am in mine.
– Susan @Whymommy

this was my friend, her generosity, her warmth, her incredible capacity to give of herself. the comment is remarkably like her final post: in the end, she was not ours, but Curt’s. it lifts the Volkswagen off my chest a little to know that she had that kind of love to hold her and carry her.

i am glad there is no more pain, for her. but it hurts me to think there will be no more words. she put so much of herself – so much beauty and thoughtfulness – into her words.

what words of hers do you have? in your comments stream, or from FB, or just from her own blog? what are your favourites? what can you share?

please don’t bogart that Susan. i am not quite ready to stop hearing from her.