I used to think of myself as a “weenie”, but since my late husband’s battle with cancer and subsequent death, I now feel like a tough old broad.

I came home early from NOLA after Mardi Gras because one of my soul sisters was dying from cancer and I wanted to be by her side and be able to say goodbye and I am soooooo thankful I listened to my heart and hurried home.  I was able to talk with her while she still recognized me and I was privileged to be with her as she passed from this earthly life to her eternal home.  Not a day goes by that I don’t think of Lisa and the fact that she is now in heaven with my husband.

Just three weeks later, my precious forever friends, Robby and Staci lost their 18-year-old son in a tragic wreck.  I remember being at the hospital when Robert Andrew Russell was born and to get the call that he had died nearly did me in.  I felt so helpless.  There was nothing I could do.  My husband had been their pastor since Robby and Staci were in high school, before they were married and had children.  But Paul was dead and gone.  However, Robby spoke to me about Paul being in heaven for their son.  Those words did make me smile.  Paul went first so he could be there to greet Lisa and Andrew!  Andrew was like a son to us and like a little brother to my boys.  He was a hilarious kid but was sharp as a tack, brilliant, fearless and loved people.  I loved talking to him.  His sweet girlfriend, Colbie, was also killed in the wreck.  Colbie was a beautiful soul.  I had gotten to know her over the year that she and Andrew had been dating and she came to church with him.  What a loss.  To lose a spouse or a parent is a horrible thing.  But to lose a child is altogether different, I’m sure of it.

Not much painting has gone on except for one in particular that I will not post.  It started out as a commission for Andrew’s grandmother, for her office, but when Andrew was killed, the painting morphed into a remembrance piece that has gone home with his parents.  I will paint another one for his sweet grandmother, who is grieving also.

I have a lot of commissions to work on, but have not been working on them.  Instead, I went back to New Orleans.  It is my place of refuge.  I attended Jazzfest while I was there.  I saw some great bands, saw a very special friend and had a great time but mostly just wanted to be with my family and did not get enough of that.  Now that I have returned home, I must settle down and get a nursing job to pay my bills and get serious about my art again.  I have visions of what I want to paint swimming around in my head!  My sons got me a GIANT easel for Mother’s Day so I am ready to put it to good use soon!

I miss my husband and my friends every single day.  I mourn with the families of my friends.  I worry about my boys, who are grown men, but who are struggling every day with all of this loss in such a short time.  But I must say this… Not once, not even one time, has God failed any of us.  All three of our families have placed our trust in Jesus Christ to see us through this time.  And He has been with each of us every single step of the way.  Just when one of us feels like we are going to totally lose it, God swoops in and scoops us up in His arms and carries us through the hard times.  We are all there for each other.  Our friends have literally saved our lives over and over again.  I have never given or received so many hugs in my whole life.  We are bonded by our grief, but we are also bonded by our trust in God that life will go on and He will be with us and we can praise Him in the midst of the storm.

I hope to be able to post more pictures of artwork soon.  That is my goal.  Until then, prayers for my friends and family would be appreciated.

In His service and love,

Susan