Monday, September 10, 2012

How can I thank you? Let me count the ways ...

While every day is arguably the first day of the rest our lives, some days are more "loaded" with significance in that regard than others... and so I want to start out this particular first day of the rest of my life with this expression of gratitude.

And if there was world-enough-and-time (being the well brought up young lady my mother hoped I would be) this would not be a blog but individual handwritten (on Crane's informal stationery) notes to absolutely everybody who surrounded Louise with prayers during her illness and surgery and blessed us in our grief at her passing.

So for her family -- for myself, for Louise's brother Fred and her sister-friend Julena, let me offer our profound thanks and gratitude ...

To all who prayed without ceasing ... in the blogosphere and at the bedside. We felt your love and support and I know Louise did, too.

To the phenomenal doctors, nurses and health care teams at the Norris Cancer Center and at Keck/USC Hospital. who did absolutely everything they could until there was nothing left to do -- and then with grace and abundant sensitivity enabled us to send her off with peace and dignity.

To the entire All Saints Church community for gifts too many to number -- prayers, support, space, grace and love. For mobilizing on what was arguably one of the busiest weeks of the launching-program year to make Saturday's celebration of her life so exactly what she wanted it to be that we shattered our own oft-repeated mantra of "progress not perfection." It was so perfect I don't believe even Louise would have had any "post-production notes" to go over ... other than to say thank you to everybody.

To those who dropped everything and came to be with us -- especially Michael and John Clinton, who are family in ways that transcend DNA; colleagues Lis Jacobs, Caroline Hall, Sharon Groves, Neil Thomas, Denise Eger, Joel Kushner, Ellie Steinman; Roland Stringfellow, Mel White & Gary Nixon; Jay Johnson; Lynn Jay; Mark Kowalewski & Dan Ade and so many others; Deacon Vicki Gray for blessing us with her ministry; Mary B and April; Kay Sylvester for her presence and prayer beads and for all the diocesan colleagues who reached out and showed up; my brother Bill who schlepped from Santa Ynez; Carissa and Pam for their incarnational and pastoral "being there" for us; Christina for her ministry of presence; Bear and Susan for sharing so much of the journey of this last 10 months; Susan for her ministry of healing and friendship; Rose for her faithful friendship to Louise and Julena over so many years and for remembering we all needed to eat something; Edna and Stasia for tending our confused Luna and Juno during the vortex and taking that anxiety away;

To those who made the service exactly what she wanted it to be ... the All Saints staff -- driven by Melissa and Zelda as the Liturgy and Pastoral Care "leads; Gary who did the amazingly lovely flowers; the reflectors who helped tell the story of Louise in the context of the liturgy: Julena, Jacqui and Michael; the readers who made the words of Steven Charleston and Ralph Waldo Emerson "come alive" -- Jim and Christina and Alma for being such a powerful prayer-warrior; Candace who sent the Charleston piece that was the perfect "first reading;" the musicians who helped us "pray twice" -- James, Liz and our dear friend Dr. Bobby Rodriquez; vergers, ushers, acolytes and communion ministers and Randy, the best thurifer ever; Ed for the heartfelt and "on message" homily and +Gene for being there in both words and spirit; +Mary for the power of her presence and prayers -- in the service on Saturday and at the bedside the Sunday before; all who stepped up and told stories and shared what they loved and appreciated about Louise during the reception; Chris for organizing every last detail of the reception and all who served, schlepped, and re-scheduled in order to make it happen and to Becki for knowing when we needed what we didn't even know to ask for.

To all those members of Louise's extended family who brought their love and support into the circle of light and love that surrounded those of us in her "immediate family" in the stress and grief; cousins Fred and Chris who made the trek from Colorado and Wisconsin and their families who held down the fort at home; Rose and family who have been "familia" to Louise for so many years; long time friends Arlana and Andrea and Tim who was with us in spirit from Seoul and Colleen and Kelli who were with us in fact. And a particular shout out to Leon and Jackson who she loved so very much and who carried Julena and me through the last few weeks on the wings of their love and support.

To all who wrote tributes to Louise's work and witness providing such rich tapestry of a life well-lived and cut too short. Cameron Partridge; Caroline Hall; Elizabeth Kaeton; California Faith for Equality; Episcopal Cafe; and many others.

To all who contributed in her memory to Integrity for the "Out of the Box" project or to Husky Camp for the rescue of at-risk huskies and malamutes.

Finally, to President Barack Obama for the Affordable Care Act that made Louise's battle with kidney cancer in 2000 a part of her medical history that informed her treatment in 2012 -- NOT a pre-existing condition that prevented her treatment in 2012. Because of the ACA, Louise not only had options for her fight with cancer -- she had the health insurance she needed to exercise those options.

And so today as we -- those who loved her most and still can't believe she's really gone -- spend this first day of the rest of our lives figuring out what to do next, please, please, PLEASE ... help honor Louise's life by committing to continue to make health care available for all as we live out Ralph Waldo Emerson's credo: "Give all to love; obey thy heart."


Laura said...

What a rich legacy Louise has left for so many. And what a gift we have received from both you and her as you've shared this journey with so many.

My prayers will continue, Susan, as you begin exploring the new "normal" for you in this next chapter of your life.

Marie Alford-Harkey said...

Simply beautiful. I continue to marvel at your ability to put your grief in service of the Gospel. God bless you Susan, and God bless Louise. I'm sorry that I only knew in reading all the tributes the incredible scope of her accomplishments. No wonder I was tongue-tied and starstuck at getting to speak to her on the phone.

Margaret Burdge said...

Wow, Susan. I thought the perfect service could not be embelished upon. But the gratitude and love you so generously poured onto this page is breathtaking. I really don't know Louise or you except via the pew and a few CPK meals, and yet my beloved All Saints, and you, one of our priests, have lost a vital part.. Thank God the Body is whole, and Louise dwells on with us in ways that have yet to be revealed. Thank you for your willingness to share so personally. Margaret