gerisullivan: (Geri Warrior Point)

Geri & Susan, August 14, 2010
Geri & Susan, August 14, 2010 Moshe Feder took this great shot of Susan Palermo and me in Joe Siclari & Edie Stern's pool. I love its vibrant joy. Good times, good memories.

gerisullivan: (Indian Pipe)
Susan Palermo died peacefully at 7:24 am today. Her long, long journey through the horrors and realities of glioblastoma multiforme is over. Her fiancé Ed had been holding her as he'd wanted to be doing when the time came. He got up to use the bathroom and in the moment he was gone, she went, too. So many dying people wait for a moment when their loved ones are out of the room; that may well have been what happened here.

Bill Wagner was there last evening until 2:30 am. I'm glad he had a last chance to say goodbye, and that Ed had calm company through several of Susan's last hours.

To the best of my and Ed's knowledge, all funeral arrangements are yet to be made. Ed thinks the funeral will most likely be at Susan's church, Holy Name of Mary in Valley Stream, NY. Ed asks that the call go out for musicians; he wants there to be music and, in particular, he wants someone to perform Susan's song, "Ordinary Girls."

The video only shows a few hints of Susan's radiant smile. I'm thankful Ed has photo albums full of that smile in his company, in the company of so many of her friends. The images shine with vibrant life. They shine with Susan.

Much as we've known this was coming, the reality is different. It always is. As I wrote to Susan's friends this morning, may the coming hours and days treat us all gently, gently as we grieve, as we go through the full spectrum of emotions that accompany death. For me, there's relief that her long ordeal is over, that she no longer is confined to the physical realities of what GBM did to her body. There's profound sorrow for Ed's loss, for Bart's, for Rita's, and, yes, for my own, too. Susan's friendship was such a blessing in my life, in our lives.

Rest in peace, Susan. Except that typing those words reminds me how little they could possibly apply to the Susan I knew. She wasn't an ordinary girl in life, and I'm completely certain she won't be one in whatever afterlife brings her, either. And that is a Good Thing.
gerisullivan: (Indian Pipe)
...2011 remains as fired as fired can be.

There are now 32 entries on the year's BAD list that I started keeping in self-defense back in early February, and 21 entries on the GOOD list.

The 60/40 split only tells part of the story. "Rescheduled dentist appointment turned up no new problems or anything needing immediate treatment" (#12 on the GOOD list) pales in comparison to its #18 triple-punch counterpart: "St. Patrick's Day: Susan [Palermo] tests positive for C. diff; Steve Stiles' brother Jeff dies of cancer; Ross Chamberlain learns his brother died on Feb 25. Cancelled trip to see Susan to avoid risk of infecting other loved ones." Yes, there's good stuff in this year, some of it relatively ordinary, some of it downright marvelous and then some. But the bad continues to slam, slam, slam its way into my life, into the lives of my loved ones.

I don't seem to be running out of cope yet, but numbness is starting to creep in around the edges.

gerisullivan: (What the Fluke?)
I don't know how many people reading this have met Dancer, the thoroughly-incorrigible stuffed rabbit hand puppet who's lived with me since he told me his very favorite thing in the whole wide world the moment we met in an artists' co-op in Boulder, Colorado, during my first trip to Boulder in the summer of '85.

Those who have met Dancer know exactly what I'm talking about. Those who haven't? No worries; all will be revealed shortly.

On the other hand, perhaps worrying is totally in order here.

I just spent 29 hours visiting Susan Palermo in the hospital. It's my fifth such visit this year, and Dancer's third.

Susan was dozing, dozing, dozing when Sister Nadine arrived for a pastoral visit Monday afternoon. The nun immediately noticed the addition to the stuffed cat and dog that regularly keep Susan company in her hospital bed. I introduced Dancer to Sister Nadine, explained that he visits when I do, and proceeded to tell her the same thing darned near everyone who's ever met Dancer knows about him:

"Dancer's very favorite thing in the whole wide world is when complete strangers put their hand up his...bum."

Oh, yes, I really did.

The story gets better. Sister Nadine's response was to reach for Dancer. She quickly had him quivering with delight. Then she helped Dancer give Susan his super-enthusiastic, oh-so-happy-to-see-you greeting, snuggling her neck, stroking her face, and dancing on her head.

Sister Nadine made Dancer one happy, lively bunny. I'm pretty sure he was a nun virgin before today.

Much as she loves Dancer, Susan wasn't having any of it. Ghu know what sorts of dreams the interlude prompted, but she continued snoozing, snoozing, snoozing. It's one of the signs that the glioblastoma multiforme is running its usual course. Sister Nadine and I had an interesting, friendly talk and she prayed for Susan before she left.

Other fun, loved-filled things happened during those 29 hours, a good handful of them while Susan was awake to enjoy them. I'm thankful she pretty much always has a loved one with her and I'm honored to have been that person for those 29 hours this time around, to have helped, and to have gained even more blessings than I've given. I don't know how something so horrible can possibly also come with so much that is good, but that's certainly been true since the first 30 minutes of this horrible, horrible year.

Cancer still sucks. It sucks warm, flat Canadian TAB from a dirty glass with half a dead rat smoking a cigarette in the bottom of it. All that and then some.

As if any of us needed me to say it for that to be clear, true, and all too real.

gerisullivan: (Twinzy Doctor Duck)
All's as well as well can be. Everything that went into making that happen wasn't a gram less than astonishing.

Sleep now. And good healing ahead, I hope!
gerisullivan: (Twinzy Doctor Duck)
The medical rollercoaster ride I'm helping my friend through went very fast today with lots of complicated details falling into place beautifully as several other people pulled together to make things happen, happen, happen. So of course there had to be an unexpected twist'n'plunge just as there seemed to be a few moments to to stop and catch our breaths. That's what medical rollercoasters do.

The ride continues. I'm meeting some fabulous, fascinating folks, which brings welcome joy to the intensity of it all.

gerisullivan: (Twinzy Doctor Duck)
This post is primarily written for people who know or know of Susan Palermo.

I spent the afternoon visiting Susan in the hospital and am heading there again tomorrow to be the patient advocate/comforting presence while her fiancé, Ed, handles various errands that will take him away from the hospital for most of the day. I may be around for a couple of days after that, too, depending on what looks helpful then.

No matter what happens next on the critical medical rollercoaster ride that Susan is on, as of today it's clear that money is both needed and immediately useful. There's likely to be a Facebook donation page and perhaps some sort of medical fund shortly. Susan asked me to post her PayPal account address so friends can quickly can send a contribution to her that way:

Scanner59 at aol dot com -- please remember to use the "Personal" tab.

While direct contributions to Susan are best, if you're more comfortable sending a contribution through me, you can tag a PayPal payment sent to my account as being for Susan and I'll transfer it over. My PayPal account is tied to my regular personal email address. (Please do this for modest contributions only; I don't want to complicate my tax situation.)

Sigh. This feels so much like I'm posting a scam. I wish it weren't Real Life; I wish there wasn't cause to post anything at all.

I'm not posting health specifics until I have a clearer understanding of Susan's wishes and comfort levels on that. My cell phone is turned off while I'm at the hospital and email access is likely to be limited for the next couple of days, but anyone needing more info is welcome to reach me or leave a message and I'll do my best to respond directly.

The rest of the spectrum: the Whisperado gig was fun, relaxing, and joyful. Live music feeds my soul. Moments of transcendent joy do the same. There was one of those near the end of the gig.

Yep, full spectrum all right. And that's okay.


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