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August 13, 2006

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Shelley Saunders

I knew Susan only via the Boxer list on the internet, yet felt as if she was my friend. I wrote her individually just because her warmth and intelligence were so obvious through her messages, and I wanted to start a dialogue with her. And we wrote often, sharing thoughts and just chatting about our dogs. I found her to be, in a word, genuine. For me, that's a quality hard to find these days. She had a profound love of people and of her dogs. I didn't know her family circumstances, and she never spoke of her family.

But at a time in my life when I felt terribly alone and really depressed, Susan was there. From thousands of miles away, she wrote me from her heart, and while she may not have fully known the effect they had, her words and her kindness saw me through. I was away from my home, caring for a relative who was dying, and caring for my mother, age 89, who was beginning to show signs of cognitive impairment. Susan's emails made me feel as if she was there beside me, seeing me through it all. She didn't simply say, I'm so sorry, I wish there was something I could do, but she detailed her own thoughts in a way that slipped into my consciousness as pure kindness and caring. We connected. Her words gave me great comfort, especially when I found myself having to join with others to finally make a decision to withdraw life support from my uncle. I so wish that I had known of her turmoil and pain; I would have tried to help.

In my experience,

When a calming presence was all that was needed, Susan was there.
At those times when the unexplainable needed to be explained, Susan was there.
When a gentle touch, a firm push, or an encouraging word was needed, Susan was there.
To witness humanity, its beauty, in good times and in bad, Susan was there.
To embrace the woes of the world, willingly, and offer hope, Susan was there.
And now that it is time to be beside her maker, Susan is there!

At 6 pm EDT yesterday, just as Haines honored her with a memorial, I lit a candle and offered prayer for my friend, her galz, and Dianne Nelson, Susan's angel who is caring for the galz. While I do not know anything of Susan's religious beliefs, I thought of a little-known hymn which I felt was appropriate. I hope you don't mind me sharing it here:

O Love, that wilt not let me go,
I rest my weary soul in Thee;
I give Thee back the life I owe,
That in Thine ocean depths its flow
May richer, fuller be.


O Light, that followest all my way,
I yield my flickering torch to Thee;
My heart restores its borrowed ray,
That in Thy sunshine's blaze its day
May brighter, fairer be.


O Joy, that seekest me through pain,
I cannot close my heart to Thee;
I trace the rainbow through the rain,
And feel the promise is not vain
That morn shall tearless be.


O Cross, that liftest up my head,
I dare not ask to fly from Thee;
I lay in dust life's glory dead,
And from the ground there blossoms red
Life that shall endless be.

I honor her goodnes and treasure my memories in my heart. Godspeed and God bless you Susan.

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