Thursday, August 09, 2012

Because they get it

I only met Susan one time. We were at the Type-A-Mom conference, and I had my baby with me. Susan got down on the floor with her and started to play. It was so cool.

"Ah," I say. "You must be @mamadweeb."

This is how is was this past weekend without Susan. I could not sit with her. I could not hold her hand. I could not laugh with her until we both cried.

But she was everywhere. Everywhere.

I remember walking into the Serenity Suite and finding Susan laying on the bed with her hands folded on her chest. She was sleeping, and I was thrilled that the Suite was being used so perfectly. I took out my phone to take a picture, and she opened one eye big just enough to give me the stink eye. The stink eye, and permission to go ahead and snap a picture.

"I remember this. It was right before she was to go speak on a panel. She needed to rest so badly. She laughed about that picture you took, Maggie. She told me about it."

I sat in the Serenity Suite and clutched my tissues as story after story as told from the other perspective. And I realized more and more all weekend long that she had told me every single bit of it.

It's not just that she wanted me to know because I couldn't be there with her that year. It is because every moment of her time at those conferences - no - every bit of human interaction at those conferences meant something to her. She loved people. She loving meeting you. She loved seeing your babies.

Thursday afternoon, Amy and I were in front of the American Cancer Society's Hope Lodge, a place where cancer patients can stay for free while receiving long term treatment. We were about to go in for a reception honoring the #morebirthdays campaign and also honoring Susan.

We stepped onto the sidewalk, and I felt the panic rise all the way from the tip of my toes. In pulses, it moved through my abdomen, calling up my recently finished lunch, made its way to my throat, closing it tightly, and finally tried to escape through the tears welling up in my eyes.

I stopped. Amy stopped. She waited on me. Calmly. Patiently. It didn't take that long. I called up the techniques I've been learning in therapy the past few months, and in few deep breaths, I could move again.

That was how it was at BlogHer without Susan. Without Susan, but with friends who understand.

Friday morning, the first panel I attended was Blogging for the Love of It. Bon was the moderator. She was one of the first bloggers I started reading in 2006 as per the advice of Susan. We love Bon, and Susan had the privilege of meeting her in D.C. one afternoon. Bon's posts were often a conversation topic for us, and Bon has been a tremendous support to me over the past year.

Walking towards the front of the room to hug Bon, I lost it.

Big, ugly, gasping, sobbing, tears. It came without warning and without being able to stop. I cried on her shoulder (great way for her to have to start her panel), and then excused myself to find some tissues.

With cocktail napkins in hand, and Sarah by my side, I began to pull it back together. Sitting in that session, I realized, this was going to be it. This weekend would be the weekend where I could cry freely because people would get it.

And so I did. I cried when I needed to or felt like it. Jean reminded me that it was okay. Kristen held my hand. Jess cried with me. Amy waited with kindness.

And they understood why I miss her like I do.

The tiles we painted in Susan's memory at the American Cancer Society.
They will be complied into a mosaic by Darryle Pollack, and hung at ACS in NYC or Atlanta.