Cheese and crackers.

I brought cheese and crackers. Cheese and crackers. For some reason I feel like my grandfather used that as a cursing phrase which is so silly because he was far too fond of any and all variations of ‘damn’ to use something innocuous like cheese and crackers. Damn dog! Damnit Stephie eat something. Goddamn it Stephie you get too fat and no man  will want you!

He was an utter delight, she types with sarcasm dripping from the tips of her fingers. He lived well into his 80’s, the nurses telling him he was so mean even the old man’s friend (pnuemonia) didn’t want to help him out.

Susan Niebur was an utter delight, she defined delight, she lived into her 30’s.

No damn fair.

I find my inner monologue sounding a lot like a toddler the last week or so. No! No Fair! Mine! (No, Susan was not mine, she was her husband and children’s, her parents and her best friend Marty’s. She was Jean’s, she was so many other people’s before she was mine, I can’t claim her…but by MINE! I mean here, this world. I suppose she wasn’t any of ours, she was God’s.)

I feel like raging to the Heavens and screaming at God. Those boys, her beautiful, sweet boys.

I bought a new skirt and some waterproof mascara. I can’t quite fit into the prepregnancy skirts of yore and the mascara was a known excercise in futility, but I handed over my card nontheless.

I used cookie cutters, shaping the cheese slices into crescent moons, stars and planets. Such a silly thing to do but it gave me a task. For a moment I wondered if the adults would think it was stupid or trite then discarded that thought because I knew I was doing it for the boys. I can’t pick them up and hug them, wrap them in my arms and never let them go. Maybe they would smile at the stars for mommy.

I know I will always look up at the real stars and smile thinking of WhyMommy.

One week ago today I sat surrounded by some of the most amazing, talented and kind women I have ever known, The DCMoms. We sat together, dabbing our eyes and sniffling at the loss of the most beautiful among us. We sat together just a few pews back from where I had sat at Susan’s baptism, dabbing my eyes and sniffling that day as well, but from happiness Susan beaming as she became a catholic.

Afterwards we somberly went to the reception, the same room where we had celebrated her birth as a Catholic. I saw many of the same faces, ones that smiled from their souls on her baptism now smiling with saddened souls. As it happens at funerals, people began to reminisce about Susan. Slowly the smiles were in earnest and you could hear a laugh here and there.

And the boys, those beautiful boys chasing each other around the room, giggling, punching each other playfully in the shoulder, all the while chomping on star shaped cheese.

Goodbye beautiful Susan. I wish I had gotten to say good bye in person. Maybe you know, now that you are on the other side, how you changed my life, changed me. There is a tendency to make those who have gone saint like, but Susan? You were human, you were flawed, you struggled but always, even in your darkest times you always showed grace. At the reception Jessica told me I was “your girl” and then we held each other and cried. You looked out for me, you led me, you taught me and I will forever feel your loss. Not just for what you gave me…but just you. Just you. Your spirit, soul and heart. I’ll try to make you proud.

Your body couldn’t contain how great your spirit was. But God I wish it had.

One week since we said good bye to you and life is going on. We get up, we get the kids breakfast, we celebrated Valentine’s day knowing that your sweethearts didn’t have you to hold. We have even laughed a time or two. But you are never far from our minds. You never will be.

Reading Little Pookie to Boss the other day, the final passage seemed different to me.

The Night winds are blowing

there are stars all above you

goodnight Little Pookie

I love you and love you

and love you and love you and love you and love you.


The night winds are blowing, there are stars all above you, goodnight sweet Susan. I love you and love you. And love you and love you and love you and love you.

18 thoughts on “Cheese and crackers.

  1. Such a beautiful tribute. I’m so sorry you–and this whole community, this whole earth–lost such a dear friend and beloved mother and wife.

  2. Oh – “her girl.” She was a mother to the bottom of her soul wasn’t she? Thank you for telling the world more about that lovely soul. I think we’re all better people for knowing her – either as a friend or through the words and hearts of her friends. Much love to you!

  3. You think I could manage to reach through this computer screen and just hug you. Not just an it will be ok hug but a long tight hug. A hug without consoling a hug without it will all be ok a hug without she’s in a better place. A hug because with all your pain you are amazing enough to worry to your core about those boys and a hug that just is that because sometimes we just need to remember and remember and cry. Your words are so touching. You amaze me when you go to these deep emotional places. You amaze me with your words beauty creativity and pace. This was celestial Steph!!! {HUG}

  4. Sniff! What beautiful words about Susan who was so special to so many of us. And the cheese! You were the one who cut out the cheese into moons and stars! I loved that as I passed through the line. It made me smile knowing that someone had taken the time to cut cheese into shapes that Susan would love. And of course that someone was you. xoxo

  5. I’m so sorry to hear of your friends passing. I’ve been in a cave this past week and had no idea. This was beautifully written and my heart breaks for your loss. Sounds like you were pretty lucky to have a friend like her, but i think she was just as lucky to have had a friend like you. Keeping you in thoughts and prayers.

  6. Beautiful post! You are right – it isn’t fair at all (Dammit). She was so amazing and I am just so thankful that our paths crossed for the few years that they did. I will always think of Susan each time I look up at the stars.

  7. Stephanie, this is so beautiful. I know just what you mean about it being not fair. Why do we have to lose people like Susan who was so smart and so kind and made so many people feel—KNOW—that we all belong to each other? Love you.

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