Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy New Year

Happy New Year everyone.    This past year brought some of the most raw emotional experiences that we ever experienced that were also some of the sweetest.    Even though we will miss Susan every minute of every day, we are determined to live in a place of joy and without regret.   We discovered anew the richness of friends and family as they gathered around us in our time of tragedy.   We learned great lessons from Susan herself as she uncovered what she called the “blessings” in her cancer diagnosis.  She listed some of those as personal growth, new friends, and letting go of what is not important.   She is amazing (present tense) and we look forward to a joyous reunion, meanwhile we have a lot of living to do.   In 2013 we look forward to the birth of a new granddaughter and reuniting with old and new friends.   We anticipate some traveling, continuing to assist Huy with the care and feeding of a soon- to- be four year old, playing golf, and enjoying retirement. 

These are my New Year's thoughts and goals as we start again.
1.       What I want to be known for:  kindness. 
2.       Point always to the truth of the cross.  We are born to die but redeemed to live eternally if we are safe in Christ.   Focus on the eternal.  
3.       Love extravagantly and unconditionally.  You don't know how much time you have to lavish care and affection on the people you cherish.  Tell them often and sincerely.
4.       Give extravagantly.  Same as above.  For me, the best gift is time but thoughtful and caring gestures are important too. 
5.       Forgive quickly and often.  No one is perfect.
6.       Make memories, lots of them, with those you care about. 
7.       Work on being a better listener.  Give people the courtesy of your full attention when you are with them.   
8.       Encourage, affirm, and build up those in your presence.  (you is kind, you is smart, you is important)
9.       Live without regrets.  If you have regrets, fix them while you still have time.
10.    Practice happiness and find joy in all things.  You may not be able to change your circumstances but you can choose your reaction.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Three Weeks

We are three weeks since Susan departed for her new home.  We have cried many tears and also laughed and smiled many times.  Tan keeps us amused and busy, his little mouth does not stop now and I asked Paul the age old question tonight "is there an echo in here."   There will be many opportunities for posts and musings later, but I wanted to publish a photo memorial that Huy put together.  He used many of the photos that we cherish and I think you will appreciate this tribute.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

4/8/71  - 11/27/2012

Susan R. Comeau-Nguyen, age 41,  peacefully slipped into eternal life on November 27, 2012.   She bravely fought a three year battle with cancer with faith, courage, and determination to overcome.  She died at home, surrounded by her family who with joy and tears released her into the arms of God.   We are thankful that Susan can now R.I.P - “Rejoice in Paradise” for eternity. 
Susan was born in Fairfield, Maine, on April 8, 1971 to Paul and Rebecca Comeau.  She attended schools in Maine and Texas, and graduated from Belfast (Maine) Area High School in 1989.   After a time of traveling and working, she found herself in Colorado Springs where she graduated from the University of Colorado Springs with a Masters in Community Counseling.  She established a counseling practice in which she applied her talents and compassion assisting people to overcome the fears and sorrows that held them back.  She took particular satisfaction in mastering Spanish and being able to assist clients who spoke that language.   Susan was an alumna of Pathways Core Training and derived much satisfaction from that program and the people she encountered through that experience.  Right up until her final moments, she was actively working by arranging for immigration paperwork and soliciting Christmas presents for a disadvantaged family.  She was a constant advocate for the disenfranchised, the victim, and the hurting.  Along the way, she enjoyed living or traveling to Iceland, Germany, Spain, Mexico, and home to Maine as often as possible.  Susan had a thirst for life, a positive attitude, and an unstoppable joy of living that rubbed off on everyone who came in contact with her.  
Susan is survived by her husband, Huy Nguyen of Colorado Springs, and her beloved son, Tan Michael Paul Nguyen, age 3.  She is also survived by her parents of Colorado Springs and Florida;  sister, Tracey Rich and husband Joe, and soon-to-be-born niece Rebecca Ann of Auburn, Maine; her brother, Scott Comeau of Manchester, New Hampshire;  maternal grandparents, Paul and Lucille Audet of Sidney, Maine;  maternal aunts and uncles, and many cousins.  She was predeceased by her grandmother, Elaine Comeau, and beloved uncle, Michael Comeau.  It would be impossible to list the innumerable people that considered Susan a true and constant friend.  Susan was a self-avowed “people collector” and once that relationship was established, it remained for life.  One of the “blessings” of her cancer diagnosis and treatments, she said, were the many new friends that came into her life.  She was a friend, confidant, and counselor to many and her wisdom and love will be missed. 

The family would like to extend our appreciation to Dr. Carmen Matei and her associates, as well as the entire staff of Rocky Mountain Cancer Center for their caring and compassionate expertise.   
In keeping with Susan’s wishes and in lieu of flowers, accounts have been established with several Microloan foundations in Susan’s name.  Microloans are small loans given to selected entrepreneurs in impoverished nations to assist them in financing their plan for ending the cycle of poverty and having a better life.  When the small loans are repaid, the funds are then loaned to others.  In this way, Susan’s legacy of helping will live on indefinitely all over the world and help hard-working people achieve freedom from hunger and want.  Memorial gifts may be directed to Rebecca Comeau, 4801 Daybreak Circle S, Colorado Springs, 80917, these funds will be applied to the “Susan R. Comeau-Nguyen Freedom Fund” through Kiva or Zidisha.  For more information on the impact of microloans, please see www.Zidisha.org.

Susan asked that no services be held.  Instead, friends and family are encouraged to spend an hour or more ‘paying it forward’ and doing an extravagantly generous act of kindness or service either intentional or random  for someone in need, whether stranger or friend.  Please let us know how these acts blessed someone so we can detail the results on Susan’s blog and inspire others to live and give sacrificially as Susan did.  The blog address is www.ourjourneytogether-susan.blogspot.com. 


Saturday, November 24, 2012

The Greatest Gift

One of the side effects of our living in Colorado and so far from my natural family in Maine was their inability to help us.  Oh, we got the calls and cards and gifts by mail, but the eye contact, hugs, and arms around the shoulders were not possible.  We were struggling alone and they knew it.

We played the balancing act of trying to keep them informed but truthfully, it was hard for them to perceive just how disabled Susan was because her posts, blogs, and phone calls were always so positive.  She was absolutely going to beat this and live to a ripe, old age and wouldn't ever consider the alternatives.  And that was the message she delivered.

My sister Eve had mentioned to me that when we were at the end and needed help, she would take a week vacation and come to Colorado.  And then, we got an idea.  She had some time, I had some Southwest credits and found a reasonable flight from Boston.  We discussed if it was too soon? Should she wait and come later when Susan was at the very end and help was more needed? But she and Joe decided that it was best to come while Susan was still pretty good and could enjoy a visit.  So it was done and Evie was coming to Colorado on Saturday, November 17th (Thanksgiving Week) and leaving a week later on Nov 24th.   She had a long day getting from Burnham to Boston, then a long flight and then the drive from Denver to Colorado Springs.  Terri, our upstairs neighbor insisted on picking her up and Evie dragged through the door about 11pm.  She was exhausted but with us safe and sound.

Evie was brainstorming what to do while with us, how to make her time count.  We discussed that Susan was deep
ly into reminiscing and story telling.  She wanted to hear about the lives of those she loved and hear their stories.  So we did a good bit of that and Evie bought some arts and crafts do do with us. She brought the beginnings of a wall quilt with painted hand prints; a book for Tan, and fresh energy.  Mostly Evie brought strength, stability, perspective, and support to our exhausted and sad little family,  She did errands with me, lots of dishes; and organized my cupboards and closets with an admonition to keep them that way,  Her experience in lifting and turning disabled persons was enormously helpful as Susan was so helpless at that point and everything we did was difficult. Even meeting her physical needs and tasks so simple as changing the bed were complicated.  Evie pitched in with cheerfulness and as I said before, fresh energy,  We did get out to the Garden of the Gods and Glen Eyrie for part of an afternoon.  I was happy to show Evie part of the beauty of the region.  It was a good week.

Thanksgiving was an adventure but not especially in the good sense.  We got the dinner cooking and we all decided that Susan would get dressed and up and out of bed for part of the day.  That took unbelievable amount of effort and when we got her out to the living room she wanted to eat.  Then. So weI fixed her a plate and she did the best she could.  We got dinner on the table for us and just sat down to eat when she needed to go back to bed. Then. So, we left our dinner and got her to bed and brought our plates into the bedroom to be with her.  It was all good.

Friday, we got a visit from the Hospice physician who spent some time reviewing Susan's records and did a physical assessment.  He frankly felt that she was in reasonable condition.  We were managing her well, keeping her nourished and hydrated and meeting all of her physical needs as well as we could.  Evie and I sat in the living room with him and he stated that if all went well, we could hope she would be with us through Christmas. We accepted that word with just that - hope.  But it wasn't to be.

Evie left on the next day, Saturday.  Headed back to Maine in another long, exhausting travel day, Terri insisted on driving her back to the Denver airport and in exchange for that effort, I made her a chocolate meringue pie.  Evie mentioned to Terri something to the effect that leaving like that (knowing she would never see Susan again) was one of the most difficult thing she had ever done. It was truly bittersweet for each of us.

Evie thoughts were prophetic as Susan died only three days later yet even then we were blindsided by how swiftly it happened at the end.  I was stunned at how timely her visit was and how important it was that she listened to that little voice and made the trip when she did.  I was likewise stunned at how her trip, travel and time bolstered us and in no small way gave us a shot of courage just when we needed it most.  Evie's presence at our darkest and saddest time was the greatest gift I have ever received.  I will always be grateful for my loving and giving sister,

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Party Time - October 20, 2012

During the fight of our lives, one of the facts that Susan took great satisfaction in was that she had beaten all of the dire predictions.  In truth, the predictions about life expectancy or prognosis were shielded from us.  Dr. Matai and her team simply didn’t go there, ever.  I think I can understand this (I could be wrong) but I believe they don’t like to give false hope – or squelch true hope.  Much is written about how patients with truly serious disease can beat it and how the power of prayer, ferocious will to live, and an unstoppable positive spirit can be as or more beneficial than the toxic poisons they pump in. 

So, coming up on the third anniversary of the weekend that changed our lives, Susan announced that it was party time!   A celebration was in order to commemorate three years of living with and thus beating the cancer that had changed our lives.  And so, Susan being Susan, she took control and planned a party!!

First of all, the menu.  She vetoed my offer of cooking and said that we were all taking the day off.  She googled the menu at Texas Roadhouse and promptly ordered pulled pork; cornbread, beans, salads and all of her favorite sides.  Next, the guest list; all of the folks and family who had stood by her through all of these days.  Jimmy, Marilyn, Terri, Chris, Jan and Roger were invited and those who could joined Paul and I, Huy and Tan and enjoyed the victorious afternoon.  It didn’t matter that the disease was probably winning.  It didn’t seem important that Susan sat in her wheelchair for the party.  On this Saturday afternoon in October 2012, we declared victory and celebrated.  We celebrated loss and gain, new friends, new perspectives, deeper faith, appreciation for family and friends, a wonder child, laughter and joy, but mostly, we celebrated Susan!!   

Everyone should throw themselves a party from time to time!!!

Monday, October 15, 2012

People Collecting

My son Tan is a friendly three year old who loves people.  So much so, he is quick to hug, stroke or touch others as he hasn't learned "boundaries" yet.  He refers to his groups as his "people," as if he does in fact own them, and in his way he does.  He operates in this community, as much as the rest of us.  He teaches me so much about interacting with our community and I like to remind myself to be sure my boundaries don't become excuses to with hold loving touches from those who need them.

One thing you may not know about me is that I am an avid craigslister.  I am commonly greeted with questions about my purchases or sales.  People suspect I love a bargain, who doesn't?  I think though, that I got hooked by the amazing people, I was given the gift, of meeting on that day for that reason.

I purchased a gift today on craigslist and the owner brought it to me.  Your not gonna get a lot offers from sellers to deliver on a $10 purchase so this was special.   The world is full of kind and generous people you can find them everywhere.

One day, Dad and I were chasing down an electrolux vacuum, when we met Morris.  He gave us a tour of his home and related the history of  it and local things.  Longest sale of a vacuum on record.  Just kidding.  It was the most fun any of the three of us had in awhile and we all said so.  Have you ever wanted to check out those bungalows downtown?  I had an appointment, so we had to leave sooner than we wanted, so sadly we made unkept promises to return and left.  I just have to reiterate it was hands down...most fun purchase of all time and the treat was meeting Morris.


Friday, September 14, 2012

Happy Birthday

Every now and again you meet someone who is so special you know they are your life to stay.  I didn't know this about JP at first but I knew I wanted it so.  I fell in love with JP and her entire family.  They are close knit, like my own family, but they are loud and funny and full of life.

Today, I would like to wish her a Happy Birthday.  You are a wonderful friend.  I appreciate your generosity, your concern and your ever listening ear.  You are a kind woman who has seen your share of sorrow.  I pray that God will reward you with quiet, happy days from this point on.

I pray you will be a part of my life for a long, happy time.  I sincerely love you from the bottom of my heart.

video provided to gift you with a smile...He loves you too!

It is only when you despair of all ordinary means, it is only when you can convince it that it must help you or you perish, that the seed of life in you stirs itself to provide a new resource.                                 Robert Collier