Happy New Year

Host unlimited photos at slide.com for FREE!

In the days since Suzanne Horne's life ended and her passing became public information via the blogosphere, I have heard from several bloggers. Some knew her well and others, hardly at all. Nonetheless, the conversations have been intensely frank, deeply personal, and purely honest. These conversations have been a wonderful gift that has presented itself from the nightmare.

Bloggers live online through the words and images they string together to tell the stories of their lives. We are who we are when we are online; there is no pretense, no tea and cookies, no straightening the house, no combing of the hair, even. We are real, and we care about stories because we care about life; therefore, we care about each other.


I was a regular reader of Suzanne's blog. She regularly visited mine. In fact, I came to her blog for the first time some time ago via a comment she left on a photo I had posted. At one point, I left a comment she responded to via email, and we emailed briefly while she was going through a rough patch with her ex-husband. From time to time, she would send me a funny message or video via email. And then there were the regular upbeat blog comments that oozed with personality.


In a recent blog post about suicide
, I suggested that we should feel guilty--responsible--when someone takes his or her life. My point is that we should learn from this nightmare that kindness is important, that as much as we might know about someone, there is plenty we don't know, that we can't begin to imagine the effect of our words so we must choose them carefully, that silence is a gift only when we are present to give it. That loving our friends is a priority, not something to do when there is nothing else to do. That kindness is everything. Experiences like this one have taught me:

Be kind.

Be honest.

Be kind.

Be open.

Be kind.

Be generous.

Be kind.

Be loving.

Be kind.

Be humble.

Be kind.


Read everything. Twice. With heart. Never forget the power of touch even if you have to use words. And be kind. And happy new year, dear friends.

Comments

  1. great action words-would make good resolutions. may happiness find you and peace fill your heart in the new year.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I just came from Suzanne's blog, and what can I say... it's very sad.

    Suicide is such a tough issue... my father took his own life almost three years ago. He was in agony, with a cancer that had spread to his whole body... I have to say, I actually felt relieved when this happened, because I knew that not only it was going to get much worse, but also that he only had weeks, maybe days to live.

    But it was very hard on my stepmom (who found him), my brothers and everybody in the family. For once, I got to play the role of 'the rock' and everybody came to me looking for support. The sense of loss and guilt is overwhelming. "I could have done something"... "I should have noticed something was wrong"... we all say these things to ourselves, but the truth is most of the times it doesn't matter how much you do... and that's why we all feel so powerless.

    It's been almost three years, and I still can't get over the last phone conversation I had with my father, when he pretty much said good bye to all of us... I'm in peace with him and his decision. I have always been. But boy do I miss him!

    Have a great 2009!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Yes, how often do we just scan through a post and leave a short comment, if any? But how could we know? We all have those up days and down days. I hope that there isn't anything any of us did that left Suzanne in the deep end without her floaties. She was such a beautiful woman. What a waste!

    I hope you have a wonderful new year, Sandy. May we all have salve for our souls.

    Peace - D

    ReplyDelete
  4. From your blog I've read about Suzanne. I visited her blog and gone through it. She left me an impression of a cheerful lady with humor in her.

    What happened, is a great loss :(

    Hope 2009 will be a great year for you Sandy.
    I take this opportunity to thank you for being around the blogger sphere, it has been wonderful with you around :)

    ReplyDelete
  5. Sandy I wasn't familiar with Suzanne's blog, but can see that she touched you deeply and your words I hope touch others even more. The power of our words and our kindness cannot be underestimated, they are both a necessary and tremendous part of the human experience. Kind words and positive actions are a must! I hope you have a wonderful New Year.

    ReplyDelete
  6. so true! Happy new year!

    ReplyDelete
  7. I do not discount your desire to be a better person and to be more loving and humane in the light of this experience, but, Sandy, you are so far up there on the kind, honest, open, generous, loving, humble meter that only you could come away from what happened and then have written the posts you have typed out and been affected so. You are a teacher in so many ways and I am glad to sit at my desk in your classroom.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Suzanne spread herself liberally among all of us while making us individually feel like the most important person around. She finished her communications to many with the words "I love you." And believe me, I loved her too. I just wish I could have helped her feel more important about herself. She was very important to me and I can see by all the sidebars with her photo on it that she was very important to others.

    I found all the posts I wrote, which were at first written out of sadness, have become a labor of love.

    So Sandy, thank you for your support, and as Suzanne would write in her comments and emails to me-YOU ROCK!

    ReplyDelete
  9. Sandy, I fully agree. You're right: our words are very important, they are fundamental, together with our attitude.

    ReplyDelete
  10. May be coincedence...
    This talks about me to a great extent, Sandy...my experience in the blogland

    I don't know about Suzzane -- will find that...such lessons are valid, even if one is through with a hell of a kind...

    & true, a plain communication can be helpful..and there yes, kind words help greatly..I had that from some of the most kind, that keeps me going :)

    Good post, Sandy

    Wish you and family a Joyous and Prosperous New Year..
    devika

    ReplyDelete
  11. Such a simple list, but pure gold. Christmas always reminds me of hospice workers (my father died of cancer at Christmas many years ago) and what they taught me was that at the end of all things, what do we humans need?

    Kindness.

    When we're lying in our beds, waiting through the last few hours until the end, nothing else matters than that those we love are beside us, with love and care. Bills don't matter anymore, or future plans, or anything on the evening news, and there are no chores to finish. Kind words and gentle touches become everything.

    They were everything all along, really.

    Thank you Sandi for a beautiful New Year's message, and a beautiful blog every day I'm here to visit. Your words are a treasure!

    ReplyDelete
  12. No one can be fully responsible for other peoples actions. One can only be responsible for ones own actions. Kindness is certainly the key. Happy New Year.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Sandy, I think you for being kind enough to drop by my little world -- as I been away from blogging for a while, so I can indeed say, you have treated me with kindness ... thank you.

    ReplyDelete
  14. I could only say kind things about you Sandy and your comments always leave a positive mark in my posts. Happy New Year my friend.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Anonymous8:40 AM

    This was sucha astrong and well put write !! I hope many will benefit from it ... somethign for you here ( i dnt know if i mentioned it before) :

    http://creatingnewblog.blogspot.com/2008/12/awarded.html

    ReplyDelete
  16. Have a great 2009 Sandy. Pappy

    ReplyDelete
  17. Wishing you all the best in the year ahead Sandy. Thank you for sharing so much of yourself through your thought provoking posts and your photographer's eye.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Have a Happy New Year Sandy!!
    I have always found your blog very uplifting and positive this time of year can be very depressing it is important to stay positive!

    ReplyDelete
  19. Anonymous12:38 PM

    I find myself wondering if she had shown more of the troubled side of herself on her blog would that have been therapeutic for her, a way to reach out and let others support her.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Anonymous12:43 PM

    Wishing you all the best in 2009 Sandy! What more can I add other than how right you are about the importance of words especially online. We should all strive to be a bit kinder, and gentler. ((((hugs))))

    ReplyDelete
  21. True advice from you Sandy-and I'm so sorry for the loss of your friend. Like you I think there is much we will just never understand.

    ReplyDelete
  22. The internal pain surrounding suicide is often larger than words or contact with loved ones ... but your reminder of the importance of kindness and compassion is vital to leading a life that honors the humanity surrounding us.

    Happiest New Year wishes ... much peace & love, JP/deb

    ReplyDelete
  23. I liked the point you made in the post you are referring to, about life being a group project. It is interesting. But life is complicated. As much as it is important to be kind, it is essential to be honest, and pretend kindness never does the trick. Sometimes it is good to be alone.

    ReplyDelete
  24. I didn't have the pleasure of knowing Suzanne but I'm saddened to learn of her suicide and think this post is a poignant reminder of the power of words.
    Hugs and blessings,

    ReplyDelete
  25. Extremely great advice! Suicide is always so hard on every one left behind.

    ReplyDelete
  26. It would appear that she had the effect on your life that you have had on mine. She was a gift to you.

    I remain so sorry fo the hole that is left where her huge personality once stood. I read through much that she wrote and can honestly say that I wish I had known about her earlier. She lives on through those that knew her.

    I need to keep a copy of this post close to me for a while. It's uplifting and comforting. It's a great guide. I thank you for taking the time to share your soul with us, Sandy. It's true, you are a master teacher.

    ReplyDelete
  27. Anonymous9:06 PM

    Sandy, what a wonderful admonition! I did not know the person's writing that you are referring to. I must change that.

    Thank you for your clear and concise images and words. I agree with your mom, you are a wonderful teacher!

    I also could not agree with you more about blogging. It is a wonderful way to express exactly who and what we are, what our deepest yearnings are in life.

    ReplyDelete
  28. Be good to each other is a great wish... may we all try to be better to each other this New Year!

    ReplyDelete
  29. Over the last 36 hours or so ,since I learned about Suzanne's death (from your sidebar in fact), I've wrestled with the "could I have done/said/written something that would have made a difference?" question more or less continuously.

    But I think in this case, there's nothing anyone could have said that would have forestalled the events as they unfolded. And this is why I say that:

    I can't imagine a situation in which someone met Suzanne -- virtually or physically -- who didn't almost instantly connect with her. This was a woman who brought out the best in everyone she encountered. And the natural outgrowth of that had to be that she was never left wanting for kind words. I just can't envision it being any other way.

    And with such a surplus, it's hard to imagine that one more email or blog comment would have tipped an already severely unbalanced scale.

    It would have taken more than a kind word left unspoken to leave her in the deep end without her floaties I think.

    But it would have taken the right words, deeds, touches to bring her back from the edge. And I don't know what those "right" things would have been. I didn't know her well enough to figure that out. Perhaps no one did. Perhaps not even Suzanne herself.

    But the guilt that haunts us all after a tragedy like this one serves a purpose. It has its place. It teaches us to be mindful, to pay attention, to notice when those we care about -- or even just those around us -- are off their game. It teaches us to care, and to not leave unspoken or undone the words and deeds that let another know that he or she matters in this world. It admonishes us not to put off responding to our friends because we're Very Busy People doing Very Important Things and our friends will be patient with us and wait their turn.

    So that thing you keep reminding yourself to say, that email you keep trying to remember to write, that phone call or text message you've been putting off because there was always something else to do... Say it. Write it. Send it. Do it now while you have the chance. Because circumstance may take the opportunity away from you if you don't use it.

    Friends and loved ones are a great gift. A gift to be prized, not closeted. And if any good has come out of this, perhaps that lesson is it.

    ReplyDelete
  30. Sandy: This post takes me by surprise. I knew her as Liquid and even though I knew she had problems; I would have never guessed this would happen. I'm sorry we couldn't have reached her and saved her from this fate. I have visited quite often but not recently. I guess I got to busy with the Meme's and missed any signs in her writing. This makes me very sad for her decision.

    ReplyDelete
  31. Anonymous9:15 AM

    Well said, as as always, a beautiful thought. And these words are worth repeating, over and over...

    Be kind.
    Be honest.
    Be kind.
    Be open.
    Be kind.
    Be generous.
    Be kind.
    Be loving.
    Be kind.
    Be humble.
    Be kind.

    ReplyDelete
  32. You are one in a million Sandy. Wonderful advice for all of us. Hugs, G

    ReplyDelete
  33. Thank you for this post and your perspective. I agree with Ed...In this post, you left us with some words that should be repeated again and again. Take nothing for granted.

    ReplyDelete
  34. I know when I am in the blackest place and somebody leaves a comment, it makes my day. Especially when somebody quits posting, I like to stop by ans ask if they are okay. Often they are just busy... we all get busy, but we all like to be missed too.

    ReplyDelete
  35. I have spent some time mulling over your thought-provoking comments. Even though I don't know you, and didn't know Suzanne, I was still touched with sadness because someone obviously quite remarkable, creative and beautiful chose to kill herself. Depression is a terrible illness and difficult to manage.

    Death is a reminder to practice all those things you listed and more, because life is brief.

    One thing I would like to comment on is the idea of guilt and responsibility. We do all have the responsibility to be kind, loving, generous and humble as often as humanly possible and to reach out whenever possible. But when a person decides to end their own life, nothing at all is accomplished by feeling guilty. It's already too easy to feel guilty over many things, but never is guilt a healthy emotion.

    Cultivating peace of mind by accepting life as it is seems more productive to me. It doesn't mean that it's ok to do terrible things to ourselves or other people, but when terrible things happen we have to accept that what's done is done and learn to cope. Guilt is a negative emotion that will take you into the dark places. Even in the worst of times I believe it important to move towards the light instead.

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Thanks for being here.