I cannot believe it has been over a month since you made the transition from Earth to heaven, from physical to spiritual, body to soul.
I want you back so badly it is difficult to function. And I am not your spouse, your parent, your brother, your child. I am just one of the hundreds, thousands of people who love you. I know that my immobility and longing is self-indulgent and lame. My own life goes on in many ways as it always has.
I knew that you would leave us, and I thought I was prepared.
I was not. I just want you back.
I want you back a few miles away from me, living and breathing. I want you in your house, in your chair, lobbing quips back and forth with your husband with your two boys sleeping upstairs and coming down with those sweet haircuts you gave them all mussed, awakened because you laughed too loudly or they just needed one more kiss.
I know that this is futile, and evidence of lack of faith. I know that as your prayer group sister, church buddy and participant in so many conversations with you about God that you are now able to do more good than my earthbound brain can comprehend. I know that you were in horrific pain before, and now you are not. I am aware that the time you were able to fight to stay here after your diagnosis, over five years, was an immense gift.
I know with as much faith as I can muster that you are now with God, in his arms. I know that there is no guarantee that we all get to kick it from the Sunset Seniors retirement home.
But I am still so sad. And angry. And full of survivor guilt.
Right when you left, I do not think I was able to process your leaving because of all the “storm and stress” of being a local helper. When there are errands to be done and calls to be made and food to be coordinated, there is simply less time to wallow. And I tricked myself. I tricked myself into thinking the activities around your body death (because I just cannot imagine you not existing, I have to call it that) were evidence that you were still here.
The formal process of saying good-bye to you at church and ritual were beautiful. It made me feel your presence. I have always loved hearing you speak, watching as you led your communities and inspired the crowds. Sitting in the pew at Mass, I tricked myself into believing I was attending another award ceremony for you, or was waiting to hear your next keynote.
I should be eulogizing you. I should be composing a beautiful tribute to all of your amazing works, both as a ground-breaking scientist and true advocate for increased awareness and research for inflammatory breast cancer.
But your own words are so powerful, there is nothing more I can add. Your own legacy is so inspiring, all I can do is commit to tell as many others as possible about all your causes, and to do what I can to further them.
Why the bloody hell are YOU not here to do it though? Your life’s works were so important, your communications so effective. I fear that no one could do it better than you. Your mind was a national treasure, your ability to move others a rare gift.
And yet, you held the day-to-day mothering of your children in highest regard. You ensured the daily cookies and math puzzles always took precedence over NASA and activism.
And I am so stymied, turning my wheels in mud, so selfishly depressed that I have not done a damn thing yet. I cannot even write an effective post here for you. All I do is cry and lash out and then feel guilty again and obsess over why you were chosen to leave.
I promise, I will eventually be a better advocate. But right now, all I can do is continuously read this passage from I Peter, the closest thing I can find in the Bible that tells me that you still exist, and that all this sadness and incomprehensible mortality will be explained later.
I Peter 1: 3 – 9, 20, 23-25
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who in his great mercy gave us a new birth to a living hope…to a salvation that is ready to be revealed in the final time.
In this you rejoice, although now for a little while you may have to suffer through various trials, so that the genuineness of your faith, more precious than gold that is perishable even though tested by fire, may prove to be for praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Christ.
Although you have not seen him you love him; even though you do not see him now yet believe in him, you rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy, as you attain the goal of faith, the salvation of your souls.
He was known before the foundation of the world but revealed in the final time for you…
You have been born anew, not from perishable but from imperishable seed, through the living and abiding word of God, for:
“All flesh is like grass, and all its glory like the flower of the field; the grass withers, and the flower wilts; but the word of the Lord remains forever.”
— The New American Bible from The Holy See online
I love you. And because I love you, I promise to stop crying, start living and get to work.
Dr. Susan Niebur designated the Inflammatory Breast Cancer Research Foundation as a cause worthy of our dedication.
She brought critical awareness to the most deadly form of breast cancer, inflammatory breast cancer.
She was the founder of the informative and supportive group blog and community Mothers With Cancer.
A pioneer in the field of planetary science for NASA and through private consulting, she also began the website Women in Planetary Science as a professional mentoring site for her female colleagues.
In November 2011 at the young age of 38 she was the recipient of one of NASA’s highest honors, the Public Service Award in the Planetary Science division.
I was blessed to be her friend. I hope to see her again.