I only met Susan IRL (in real life) once. It was at BlogHer 2010 when she was a keynote speaker, reading this powerful post about living with breast cancer. Before she had left for the conference, she tweeted that she’d be wearing sparkly shoes during her speech so people would know it was her.
After she spoke, I walked into the lobby and saw her walking arm-in-arm with a friend. Though her voice was strong and her smile bright, it was clear that the day had worn her out as she leaned on her companion a bit, her arms covered in the compression sleeves she had to wear after losing lymph nodes to cancer.
I almost didn’t say anything. But it was the shoes.
I stepped out, introduced myself and told her how much I loved her reading, and her shoes. Her smile never dimmed—she had one of those 1000-watt smiles—and we talked for a moment.
And then we hugged.
Susan’s battle with cancer ended yesterday, leaving behind a husband and two little boys. Though it’s the “mom” part of her life that brings the quick tears to my eyes, I know the women’s scientific community is also mourning the loss of one of their own.
Last night, the moon was huge and full and bright. I’m not a terribly spiritual person, but I couldn’t help but think it might be Susan and her megawatt smile, and those sparkly shoes.
I saw an excerpt of this posted on Susan’s Facebook page and had to borrow it.
I am standing upon the foreshore,
A ship at my side spreads her white sails in the morning breeze
And starts for the open sea.
She is an object of great beauty and strength,
And I stand watching her sail,
Till at last she fades on the horizon and someone at my side says:
“She is gone.”
Gone from my sight- that is all.
She is just as large in the masts, hull and spars as she was when she left my side,
And just as able to bear her load of living freight to its fullest,
Her diminished size and total loss of sight is in me, not in her.
And just at the moment when someone at my side says:
“There! She is gone”,
There are other eyes watching for her coming,
And other voices ready to take up the glad shout:
“There she comes!”
-and this is dying.
Please see this post if you are moved to make a donation in Susan’s name. And read her words about Inflammatory Breast Cancer—her message is an important one.
February 7, 2012