We don’t forget

SD_beach1Every year is different because every year I am in a different place in my life, but there is no way I would ever forget. I'm in the waiting room right now, counting down the days till the anniversary of his death, while also counting down the days to the birth of my nephew. The plan is for me to be with my sister (and her fiance) when she's in labour, and i'm feeling the responsibility of that. I have a ton of work to do – all of it work i want to sink into and enjoy – but i am a mess of emotion. Birth and death, all packed into my small head. I haven't been sleeping well, unsurprisingly. My dreams are filled with babies in my arms, and his arms around me; it is impossible to hide from the memories when you're unconscious. He was kissing me last night and i woke in tears; i find it extraordinary that these memories still have this effect on me. I am in a really good place in my life – his memory is honoured and cherished, but i am looking forward to new possibilities this year, and am so so ready to embrace them. But still there is this sadness – sometimes i think it is merely the echoes of grief resounding around me; it gets twisted into a new shape, and you learn to live with the loss, to find new paths and joys, but the grief really does mark you forever, like a ring in a tree trunk, a raised scar on your heart. In years to come i will still have these memories, kept in a dusty shoebox in the back of my mind; i will pull them out occasionally and run my fingertips over the smiles and promises. For now i will try to string words together for work, thinking of birthing babies by day, and sleeping with the deceased at night. And the world keeps turning.

60 responses
  1. Michelle Shopped

    the scar fades but it’s never completely gone and reminders can be in the most unexpected of places and time…a friend of mine once told me years after the loss of her daughter that she healed well, but…xo auntie-to-be ;)

  2. Melisa Brahmani

    What beautiful words! Hang in there and know this is in deed a lifelong process which like the sea will ebb and flow throughout your life. Continue to be just who you are! Sending you lots of love!

  3. Katherine

    “i will pull them out occasionally and run my fingertips over the smiles and promises”…ohhh lovely imagery & it really resonates with me today. Thanks for sharing where you are–it’s made a difference to me today.

  4. leoniewise

    i love you

  5. shehani

    that was beautiful. i wish you well. xx

  6. Amisha

    You know what I always find amazing the is the power of dreams to leave such strong emotions. Emotions that stay and you can feel when you wake up even if everything in the dream was surreal or never happened.
    Be well and take care!

  7. Roxanne

    You speak of the circle of life. As yes indeed, grief gouges a scar into our very being. The presence of absence remains with us forever. Grief and loss have been this dark painful forest I’ve had to traverse alone, sans map, sans compass, sans painless shortcut. When I emerge, I am forever, irrevocably changed.
    I have never stopped counting the days around the anniversary of my son’s death. I experience that time alone, like I think we’re meant to experience loss. I define myself in-part by my grief, the same grief I desperately dread, the same grief that I may never fully wish to relinquish.
    Peace to you.

  8. Brigitte

    Susannah – I think you’re right that your experience of grief will linger long into the future. I’ve never suffered a loss, but I’ve had my own unthinkable life events to live through. And sometimes they come back and plow right through me, even though I’ve gone through my own process of recovery and healing. The strength of it is shocking to me after all this time.
    I can’t say that I’d choose to relive all my experiences, but I am fiercely proud of the woman I’ve become…and I know they shaped me for better and for worse. I’ll take the good with the bad, just as you do.
    All this to say, I find your ability to share your story inspiring — and comforting in a way. I know I’m not alone in living in the past, present and future all at once.

  9. kerin rose

    Susannah…you describe it exactly as it is. I am almost 10 years past the same experience. The dreamtime visits still occur…what I find now, after this time, is that rather than bringing tears, they leave a sweet sensation of knowing..that a connection was in my hands and my heart…that mattered…that very much….and its a gift…so I smile….

  10. Jen Jafarzadeh

    what a beautiful, honest reflection. I’m a really vivid dreamer and it amazes me how sometimes my dreams can be so real and throttling that they force me to think on what I don’t want to see is there.

  11. Sylvia

    :* & virtual hugs {{{Dear Susannah}}}

  12. lu

    May you be comforted in the coming days. I will be thinking of you.

  13. Marthe

    Reading this is really stirring some emotion. I find myself both sad and happy at the same time. sad because you will never completely get over your loss, and happy because a new life is coming into the world soon. Thank you for sharing these very honest words, it really puts my own life into perspective. Everyone needs a reminder on how fragile life is and we need to appreciate what we have when we have it. This reminds me of my favorite quote:
    This too shall pass

  14. Rae

    Beautiful and haunting and so very real. I wish you peace and joy in the coming birth of your sweet nephew.

  15. brittany

    ah susannah…much love.

  16. Megan

    This is so beautiful and very poignant.
    I have a website that celebrates quiet acts of courage, and I would love to put this story there if you think it’s appropriate (no offence at all if not, and full attribution and links back if so). The site is http://www.athousandcheeringstrangers.weebly.com.
    Either way – my admiration for your courage.

  17. Kelly Warren

    stunningly beautiful post, susannah. i’ve been reading your blog for a while, but this one really spoke to me. death and birth combined. i experienced something very similar. my mother committed suicide in 1999, and i miscarried twins two days later. on the third anniversary of my mother’s death, i learned i was pregnant with twins again. mom’s way of bringing me joy on that day. it was 10 years for me on 12/27/09. i wrote a blog post that day on lessons learned in those ten years. my girls are now six. wishing you the comfort of sweet memories and the joy of that new birth.

  18. Catherine Just

    this brought tears to my eyes. I am feeling your words. They run so deep and you are so real and honest about it all. I so appreciate that. Thank you for sharing this. I’m going through some stuff too and it helps to just hear others being real.

  19. the blue muse (kelly)

    Such a beautiful, moving post, you brought tears to my eyes, both for you and for the losses we all experience. But clearly, you have held onto hope…life does move forward, and you can celebrate that with the birth of your nephew. Best to you.

  20. janine

    I don’t know you at all, and so I find it amazing that you share such honesty with your readers. I have no advice to offer but truly hope that this year leads you to the new opportunities you are waiting for. And I look forward to reading about them here :)

  21. sas

    i think the dead find it hard to let us go too.
    i love you beautiful.

  22. Sarah

    Beautiful description. Stunning and right on the money. thank you for sharing your brave journey and for helping those of us on the path of loss to not feel alone.

  23. Lisa

    I type with tears in my eyes and no real words to express this. Thank you for sharing this pain with us all.
    I too have those dreams during which memories creep up, knowing I cannot run from them, and the arms of my father are around me providing such an empty comfort.
    You are such a beautiful person – as the world turns on, please know that there are many of us out there with you in these moments of pain – and beauty.

  24. Pam

    Absolutely profound. Peace be with you.

  25. Betsy Delzer

    s:this is stunning, powerful. your language drips with beautiful, heart-breaking imagery; much the way your photos breed a thousand words that feel like they’ve been woven in forever and somehow in a capture, come out. to me,
    grief feels old and new. forever. i feel like i’ve held hands and hearts on {the day} and they say, wow… it’s not as bad as i thought – the anticipation was worse. or… it’s the tilt of his favorite flower’s head at the grocer that calls more of a dash than an ‘expected’ moment. either way, either day. you’re held; in the strong, sure truth that we all are stitches. aching (and for us, thankfully creating) alongside one another. my wish for you tonight: dark to light. flickers. peace. xO

  26. jodie

    i think of a favorite quote: “those we have laughed with, learned from, leaned on, and loved most…leave us the best memories.”
    my sister was killed over 5 years ago and the other night i dreamt she was pregnant–something she never got the chance to experience in her lifetime.

  27. Denise

    Just beautiful, Susannah.

  28. charlane

    i think with love that grief is natural and part of loving that person. honoring that love and remembering how beautiful it was is a natural thing. that energy doesn’t really leave us. it may become somewhat softer and more tolerable because we’re used to that scar being there, but like you say, it’s still a mark on our heart, our souls, our memories. sending love, warmth and comforting thoughts.

  29. Carol

    I never know what to say in these situations, because I remember when my Dad died how people struggled to comfort me with words. And because I know what it’s like to wake up with those tears…

  30. Kitty Douglas

    I hope that hearing all of us supporting you and holding you in our minds, hearts, and prayers that it makes you feel a little less alone. Life and Death are always intertwined, but in circumstances like this we realize it more than ever I’m afraid. I hope that your nephews birth helps calm the tides of sorrow that you have been swimming in for so long.
    Sending you hugs and my prayers from across the pond…

  31. Mel

    Yep, so true. I often dream that my best friend is not really dead, that she suddenly shows up on my doorstep, that all was a big mistake. And then I wake up crying. Shattered for the day. It’s 9 years in April.
    I think the worst aspect of the loss is the lack of future with that person. Life goes on, my friend will be forever 28. She has already missed so much of what happened next that I do often feel this wave of regret for her. And on more selfish days I feel the regret for myself.
    You are doing so well. But birth and death… that is hard to combine in a short space of time.

  32. maybemayest

    no one love lost, even you and me or another.anyway i try to think like they’re gone away to be remembered.

  33. linda

    So beautiful…so heart wrenching….sadness, loss, grief…blessings on your heart and soul. tears well up in me…for you.

  34. Astrid


  35. Jane

    Thinking of you.

  36. Jet Harrington

    my heart unfolds for you… i hope you have a warm embrace today.

  37. doorways traveler

    love you.

  38. Abigail@abigail*ryan

    Every time I read an entry on your blog like this Susanna, I find myself almost, or totally in tears… I think it’s because, for the first time ever in my life – I really have someone I would be terrified to loose, and even imagining what you have had to go through, and are still going through, makes my heart break…
    It also makes me know, truly, how lucky I am. For whatever time Ryan and I get. I hope it’s forever…whatever that is…
    You’re truly amazing. I hope you know this and REALLY take it on board when people tell you…
    xo to you.

  39. Shell

    I wish I could say something deep in response to your beautiful words. Keep on remembering him and you keep living new dreams and adventures.

  40. Lisa

    An amazing post. So honest, poetic and heartfelt.

  41. barbara

    big hug and :-) to you!!

  42. Bea

    I love you. I just love you so very much.

  43. jo marks

    beautifully written, the circle of life – thinking of you x

  44. Laine

    This post gave me goosebumps.
    You write so beautifully.

  45. Stephanie


  46. megmanionsilliker

    you express yourself in words so beautifully. i like to believe that my dreams are real so towards that end i believe you were being kissed by your love. i’m sorry for your loss. when i was pregnant i lost my mom – we named our daughter after h er – annie. i swear they met in the cosmos somewhere before she was born. i hope each day brings a little bit more peace to your heart. xo

  47. Sands Glidden

    Your words touched me! I just began following your blog and am taken with your courage and strength.
    I lost someone special in July 2006. We were only going together for two years. Sometimes when I am depressed he seems to be so close, othertimes he is in my dreams but far away. How mysterious this grieving often is…

  48. Thea

    as I read this I remembered when we first met-with our losses so fresh and wounds pulsing and oozing with pain, how it soothed me to walk with you, as I explored writing, artwork, poetry and photography to move that pain around to form something else. I read these words you wrote and it is as if I am looking down at an overview of where we have been and where we are today, and I am so amazed at how far we have come, and yet the pain has been so present the past week. Trey’s birthday approaching just a week before the anniversary of my mothers passing-that dichotomy of birth and death–and I find a familiar comfort in reading your words, seeing the beauty in your honesty and a sense of calm in that there has been growth and it proves that this pain, this sluggish sense of being, the springing forth of tears the moment I look into my heart for even a moment, will not swallow me whole. It will roll through like the tide and once again I will find myself with lightness in my heart, and the energy moved back to where I molded it to go…my creativity. Thank you friend. Thank you for being. Love you.

  49. allison

    tears in my eyes, but what words to say?!?
    the life you have so openly shared with all of us over time…
    has shown such vulnerability…
    yet such strenghth
    thank you for sharing…all that you have, the beauty, the pain, the growth…the life…
    my heart is touched
    my life has been touched
    just by rubbing up against yours…
    so…i send you a smile
    from me, a stranger to you
    but i know sometimes when i’m walking around disconnected, disconcerted, disoriented, distracted, distraught, dismayed, disappointed, distressed, and despairing…
    a smile from someone walking by can bring light back into the moment

  50. Sachiko

    You are a strong person.

  51. Karen D

    you describe so well something I have never been able to put into words.
    Namaste Dear One

  52. Annie

    What a beautiful post. I sit here with tears streaming understanding all too well. (((hugs)))

  53. tifanie

    i am moved to tears. i am at a loss for words. sending good thoughts. :::

  54. Brooke

    I have tears in my eyes. I hear you.

  55. thepennycones@btinternet.com

    I am sorry but I don’t know who it is you have lost but none the less, this was a very moving read. Wonderfully written and incredibly moving.

  56. Mariss

    Thinking of your during this anniversary time (knowing they’re not easy, but also very important). I hope your sister delivers her babies safetly. New life and death are inextricably connected, I think.

  57. TJ Wood


    I’ve followed your writing for a bit now, but just found this string of posts. I lost my brother 14 years ago this month; the way you describe grief is so beautiful and true…”but the grief really does mark you forever, like a ring in a tree trunk, a raised scar on your heart…”

    For years I skirted around this anniversary, not wanting to confront the emotions head on. This year is different. I wrote him a short letter–what a healing experience. I am sorry for your loss but agree that you wouldn’t be who you are today without it–and you’ve reached out to hold the hand of so many others experiencing this sharp and dull ache. Thank you for sharing, for being vulnerable, for being you. Namaste…

  58. Annie

    Thank you for this post. Today is the first day of the second year without my father.

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