Happy Birthday, Susan.
Beloved sister, cousin, mother, daughter, friend, artist, and teacher. We keep your memory alive in our hearts, we celebrate the time we had with you, and we miss you every day.
And we continue to pursue justice on your behalf. Enough already? Susan would disagree, as we are reminded by words spoken at her memorial service: “All of you know this about Susan: she was an incredible problem-solver, a loyal confidante, a life raft during a crisis, a disarming wit. She hated injustice, stood up for her beliefs, and was fearlessly articulate for a cause.”
Shrug away a wrong? Not Susan. As her obituary proclaimed: “Susan’s intelligence, wisdom and compassion were evident to all who knew her. She understood the meaning of loyalty, and stood by those she loved.”
Our ears still ring with the language of love and poetry used to honor Susan in the years since her death:
“You most solid friend who stood behind and steadied wobbly leanings for so long.”
“You could read more books in one day
Than most of us could read in a month
Or a lifetime”
“We are cutting onions and celery in your kitchen
it’s Thanksgiving, the table is full
everyone is welcome”
“I have a photo of us all
at my table, sunlit and simply happy
“I kept digging in all the corners and closets of my mind—looking for you
In the stillness, I find deep love and great sorrow—still looking for you”
“The thing about Susan is that she was always there – when times were joyful and times were sad, when there were new challenges to be met or old memories to rekindle.”
“A passionate traveler… voracious reader… lover of libraries… A life spent planting, nurturing and cultivating life’s riches…”
When Susan’s death was declared a homicide in August 2012, some family members sprinkled a portion of her ashes at a favorite spot in New York City’s Central Park, honoring her memory with this article in the Anderson Valley Advertiser, and the poem that appears below. The remainder of her ashes will be scattered when the law enforcement authorities of Mendocino County bring Susan Keegan’s killer to justice.
Now the world knows your departure
a one-way flight from breath and bone
was no drowning of self-pity
no reckless swan-dive onto crags
neither careless nor self-planned
but a travel-agent’s booking
to your hereafter, forged
behind your back, bludgeoning
all your tomorrows to dust.
We sprinkle your dust back
slowly into life’s stream
mingle you in the waterfall
of all coming and going –
a pinch recalls your kindness
a pinch for good times
a pinch for the torrent of justice
hammering down the dam.