Heart 0001 ~ Susan Dye
Given: September 1st, 2021
Heavy is the crown and yet she wears it as if it were a feather. There is strength in her heart, determination in her eyes, and the will to survive resides within her soul. She is you. A warrior, a champion, a fighter, a queen.R.H. Sin
Susan Dye is my Mom.
She is so many women and yet, her lessons and wisdom, are helpful for all. She wore her crown with such grace and dignity.
She’s my inspiration for this project and website. My Mom fiercely believed in my creativity and talent. Of course she did – she was my Mom! But she also loved it because she actually loved it and that made me so very happy! She occasionally would tell me something I had created, “wasn’t her favorite” which always stopped me in my tracks – it now makes me laugh because in that very gentle criticism she was teaching me – of course she was!
This heart is half an original piece of my art called, “Holding On” and it was actually named that because I painted it during the worst of the pandemic lock downs. I then added a hand drawn digitized pattern as the frame – giving it an unexpected modern boldness ~ just like my Mom.
My Mom loved the original piece used in this heart. She first saw it as a tote bag that I was selling at the Falmouth and Cumberland Farmer’s Markets in the summer of 2021. Mom made it to only 3 markets out of 52 because the cancer and the treatment were taking their toll.
She somehow ended up loving the piece of art that exemplified what she was doing ~ holding on. It finally dawned on me to give her the painting for her room in the last month. She usually would just ask for a piece but this one I had framed for Art In The Park so I knew she didn’t want to ask because of that. I wish I had given it to her sooner. This exchange, only 4 days before she passed, gives me so much comfort knowing this is how she felt. My art brought her joy!!!!!!
And so here we are launching this website together – as it should be. Mom and I will share our thoughts, love, and art and we’ll do it together! I love you Mumma.
Below is something I wrote about a month before we found out Mom only had 2-6 months more with us. It helps to explain why Mom is such an important aspect of 1000hearts.love. She wanted to keep talking…
Today was a gift.
I received a message today after an unexpected and cherished visit with Mom. Doug and I went down on his lunch hour to help put in an air conditioner and we usually try not to stay long because visits are difficult for her now. Often she will chat for 15-20 minutes and I can tell she’s done. Today she seemed to want to talk so we sat together and did just that – very thankful that I had taken a separate car. We sat on the shady porch, in rocking chairs, looking at the flower gardens Dad so beautifully created for her and we talked and talked – for about two hours!
Today was a gift.
Shortly after getting home, a text came in and it simply stated,
“I need to keep talking.”
I knew that our very rare couple of hours sitting on her back porch just letting her talk was important but that simple yet powerful text said it all. No one gives you a “This is how you fight cancer” manual and the lack of information about the toll it takes is beyond frustrating. I know Mom has a lot to say on her observations and feelings but she’s been waiting until she had the energy to get it all out. I’m so glad she let me know today so I can gently find pockets of time for her to express herself and say what she needs to say. I’m honored to be an ear and a comfort.
There is this stasis a family goes into when one member has cancer. It’s a collective holding of breath that pauses life in the strangest way while everyone attempts to be positive and go about life as best as possible. But, life isn’t going about as usual. At all.
Life is strained yet celebrated – every moment cherished. Such a bizarre dichotomy exists and with the amazing treatments, if a family is fortunate, this state is maintained for years through family celebrations, the mundane schedules of life, and the periodic infusions, PET scans, surgeries. Even through years of the cancer fight and the ecstatic moment of NED (No Evidence of Disease), the rock in the pit of the stomach never goes away because cancer loves to lay in wait. Because of this, it seems that the family stops talking much about what is going on for the cancer fighter. Mostly we just don’t know what to say, we don’t know how to help, we don’t want to upset anyone, least of all our loved one who is going through the marathon of fighting for their lives. Cancer is all consuming yet hushed away in many respects.
I have missed my Mom so much this last year since the Melanoma metastasized. Her fight has been hard seems like empty words for something that has been an all out battle and epic journey. It is a constant fight against what is ravishing through her body and now attempting to invade her mind too. Even now as I write this I cringe at stating things in their harsh reality because there will be people who will tell you to, “be positive” and “she needs your strength” – all absolutely well meaning words and thoughts that are also infuriating at times. I want to scream at the world how unfair this is at the same time I want to hold her and protect her from the eventuality (we don’t fucking know how long we have her) and that’s the real rawness of it.
We don’t want to give her too little credit for her ability to keep up the fight and don’t you dare say she’s going to beat this!
YOU don’t know.
WE don’t know.
NO ONE KNOWS!
Instead of easy platitudes, simple loving reminders of presence is lovely. Mom has a friend named Rich who sends her pictures of the ocean, a tree, a bird and doesn’t need a reply. Just thinking about how he has been so gently present for her brings me to tears and makes me want to be just like Rich when I grow up. There are so many other friends who have found a way to stay connected but not drain her precious energy and I love you all so much for that.
Dad, Jason, Michael, Doug, and I have survived by pushing so many thoughts into our gut and heart and by becoming very, very quiet. There is absolutely nothing to be said that is “right” in this. What is needed is our quiet and calm presence – we are letting her take the lead.
Today, Mom said what I’ve been hoping for for some time ~ that she needs to keep talking. Shortly after that text came a second one…
“I’m also so tired that much of it seems impossible.”
I crave her thoughts and although I wish for them to be every ounce of wisdom she has learned and imparted over the years and most importantly the insights she hasn’t ever had the right time or place to share, what I know is that she needs to keep talking about what she’s experiencing and I will be here to hear her words no matter when or how they come. Her needs are my priority. Whatever they are, I am ready. At least I hope I am. I’m pretty sure that I need to keep talking too. …