Monday, April 9, 2012


12x36" oil on linen


Hello everyone. Again and again, I need to thank you all for your support and your kindness. This is the most extraordinary thing that has ever happened in my life and to hear from so many friends, many I’ve never met face to face has meant so very much. Again and again, thank you, thank you, thank you.

I think I’m back. It changes drastically from day to day. I still feel as though half of me has been severed and in my mind’s eye, I see myself as one of those digital framework images, clumsily trying to carry on with only one side functioning.

A while back a reporter asked the Dalai Lama a question. Why, he asked, when your country is being overrun, your people imprisoned and you yourself exiled, why are you always smiling?  Because, he said, it feels good. I get that now.

My brother was in Viet Nam and when he came home he related some incredible stories. A Marine would be sent out, beyond the relative safety of the perimeter, to sit in six foot high elephant grass and listen for enemy troop movement. Consequently, that wait also included the possibility of being eaten by a predator, bitten by a snake or being dispatched by the enemy. At times the waiting and silence became too much and against strict orders and commons sense the men would key their handset and say...”What the ______ (insert desired expletive here), over,”  just to hear a familiar voice.

That’s about where I am right now. I’m trying to smile because it feels good but I seem to be continuously keying my handset and saying... “What the ______ , over.” Hoping against all reality that Tim might answer. We’d always use that phrase when perplexed or vexed in any way. Maybe I just can’t hear him.
I understand the logic of  why everyone always says when something like this happens...“this only happens to other people, this doesn’t happen to us!” I get not being able to process the “qualifying event,” as the insurance company calls it, until weeks later and suddenly, one morning, waking up as if it just happened. I totally see the ability of the human mind to shield itself from a shock it cannot possibly process.

What I don’t get is the survey the funeral home sent to be graded on their work so they can better serve the community. How can I possibly answer those questions? This is my Tim we were talking about! Seeing his name on a piece of paper, the name that I’ve loved so much for twenty years...such a great name, such a cool name....on a certificate with the word Death at the top is excruciating. For a while I refused to handle them. I only touched them with tissues.  His ashes sit in a box, clothed in red velvet along with an envelope containing locks of his hair in the studio. I hate going in there. A small box of dust. Really Tim?

All the cliches work. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. He’s in a better place..although I can’t imagine a better place than here with me and the boys. Time will heal. You had a wonderful twenty years the memories will sustain you. Those things are all true...but...

This was an extraordinary man! A kind, generous and compassionate man. Our time together was fun, creative and thrilling. As recently as a month before he left we’d stayed up talking till 3 am on a school night. I love him with every fiber of my being but, I also genuinely liked this man! I never realized how important that was. I liked who he was as a human being. If I were a male, I would choose to be Tim Berry.  I was so proud of him wherever we were, whatever we were doing. He was always polite, always patient and always smiling.  I simply cannot put into words what this man meant to me and what an incredible person he was. He taught me so much, he taught me the value of kindness, patience, compassion, honesty and integrity. He was my very best friend in the world, I trusted him with my every secret and I’ll never be the same without him.

That said, I can’t promise the subject of Tim Berry won’t pop up now and again if I’m able to continue posting. But then again, what else am I going to do? My butt’s sore from sitting in bed. It’s strange, even with the empty side, the stunning silence, bed is the only place I feel safe.

I have some ideas in my head about painting my emotions. I’ve reconnected with an old friend who has promised to pose for me. We’ll see. Right now, this is Frankie. This is the bug I’d planned to paint when I woke up that morning and thought it strange that the bright light shining in from the bathroom skylight hadn’t woken Tim up. Frankie’s not quite finished yet. Still have work to do on his tail and wings but I felt like posting so I felt I should.

Frankie is a senior at Dragonfly High. He’s full of piss and vinegar and has the potential to become either a nice guy or a jerk. It’s fork in the road teen angst time for Frank. Hopefully he’ll come out of it. Although buzzing the girls while they sun themselves in the courtyard is not cool, he has been seen helping elderly ladies across the street, so there’s hope.

Thanks for stopping by.


  1. Suzanne, I think of you every day my friend! Your posts are so raw and honest. I wish I could do that on my blog, I always want to wrap everything up in a bow. I can not even imagine what you are going through. My hubby is deployed and I have run through what would happen if the worst happened every day. I have this awful fear any time I don't hear from him, any time I read or see a news story about casualties in Afghanistan. I live in fear! I fear raising 2 little boys by myself, I fear being alone, and when I'm running through these scenarios I always think of you! My heart breaks for you and I say a prayer for you! Suzanne I just pray for peace for you and that you will find a little happiness in each day! I'm glad you're painting again, I can't imagine tackling the painting that you had set out to do on that awful day! You are strong and beautiful!

  2. Your post leaves me in tears Suze. You are one of the most awesome women I've ever met, besides the fact we've never, you know, actually talked face to face. Just this morning I was thinking of you, and that I ought to stop by your blog and leave you a comment to see how you were doing, but I didn't, became sidetracked by something else, though I dare say nothing nearly as important as leaving a note for my friend. I should have. I think of you often and hope you're doing okay. You are stronger than I am, I know that for sure. Hugs dear Suze, and kisses on little puggy noses for the boys.

    And I love this Frankie painting. Piss and vinegar indeed! He does look full of it. :)

  3. Suz,

    You were on my mind today, I even spoke about you to a artist friend, so I thought I would drop by your blog to see if you were posting.

    You are just so amazing and so strong. It's wonderful to know that you are painting. One day at a time, my friend, one day at a time.

  4. Dear Suzanne. I have not dropped by for a while and was deeply saddened to read of your recent loss. I'm so very sorry to hear of your Tim. It is most certainly a life altering event. I think i can relate Suzanne as one day way back in 1993 my wife died suddenly after dinner, leaving me with two young boys to raise. I think i was in shock for 6 months at least. Her death left a vacuum in my days that made it hard for me to even breath at times. The pain of it was like nothing i had ever experience. My heart goes out to you Suzanne. It is comforting to know you are surrounded by good people who are watching over you. Go easy. Embrace the grief. There are no deadlines to feeling better. You are in my prayers.

  5. You are so strong, insightful, and open. Your painting makes me smile and I am so happy to see you painting again. And as you said, time helps. Although I never met Tim, each time you share your thoughts about him I feel as though he was a friend. What a wonderful person he was and you are. hugs .....

  6. Suzanne, I am glad you are here again, difficult as it may be. Your paintings, your words bring so much joy to so many.

  7. Hi Suz,
    It's me Tweedles. Gosh, I think of you every single day. I keep checking to see if your wings have healed. Give yourself all the time you need. As you can see- we have all been here right beside you- even though you cannot see us.
    Thank you for sharing your feelings that come from your soul- with us. Yes, Tim was an incredible man, and I hope you never stop talking about him. Please always share what is on your heart.
    I love Frankie, and you are not going to believe this. I have been working on making Dragon Flys in a yarn painting.
    I will show you, because when its all done- it will come to you!
    Frankie is the most spectacular Dragon Fly that I have ever seen!
    His wings look so translucent, just like a real Dragon Fly.
    In fact Frankie looks real. You have put so much feeling into Frankie- I can feel his zest!
    Thank you again for sharing with us- we miss you so much,

  8. This is beautiful, Suzanne. Dragonflies are fascinating and I've taken a few photos of them thinking I'd paint one someday. Your piece here far surpasses anything I could manage, though.

    I see a lot of joy in this painting, although I'm guessing it may have been difficult to work on it. But it's wonderful to see your art again, and also to read your thoughts of your dear Tim.

    I know I'm not the only one who has missed seeing your work and hearing from you.

  9. I hope you never stop posting about your Tim, Suz. We should all be so fortunate to have such a person in our own lives. All those danged cliches...I hate them. I just truly believe that Tim is always by your side and he will keep you going when you least feel like it. I love this little painting of Frankie. His suit of colors is quite beautiful.

  10. Dear Suz, You have no idea how great it is to see you here! You just made my day! Pour your heart out. It's ok. We love to hear all about Tim.

    As for Frankie ...he seems to have a promising future! Paint on girl friend.

  11. Suzanne...I visit your blog all the time in hopes of seeing a new post. Now, I'm glad I visited to see "Frankie"...and I love him.
    I hope you know that you can talk to us any time you want..we're here for you..and its okay to talk about Tim...We don't want you to stop..! I miss you and SO happy that you're back!!

  12. It feels so nice when someone opens up before their friends. Your words about Tim are always most welcome, because they are true and come from deep within. Its unbelievable that inspite of going throufh so much sorrow you still care to bring joy to others through your work.

  13. Keep writing, girl! Your words will touch others in need of them. I painted a dragonfly after my Sarah died...American Indian Lore: a dragonfly symbolizes the soul of the departed.

  14. Suz, no day passes without my thinking of you and Tim and praying for your heart to heal quickly. I certainly will never get tired of hearing about your best friend and seeing your amazing art and feeling your wonderful spirit. Thank you for sharing you with us.

  15. I really like hearing about Tim. So just keep on talking about him just as much as you want to! I am so pleased that you are battling through and feeling able to share. This is a truly amazing painting. You have certainly come back with a beauty xx

  16. Suzanne, your very honest, sweet post about Tim and the love you shared has deeply touched me. I can't adequately say how very sad I am for your loss. Tim was a gift to you as I'm sure you were to him.
    Seeing you painting again is a gift to the rest of us!

  17. There's really nothing I can add to these posts, Suzanne, except that I, too, am here, sending you virtual hugs and chocolates and as much time to heal as you need - as someone who has lost many loved ones, I know there no timeline on loss and time doesn't weaken the feelings. Never stop talking about your wonderful man.

  18. Welcome back, glad to see your work again and hear your inspiring words!

  19. Your painting...your words...both straightforward, honest and beautiful, Suzanne.

  20. Inspirational and thought provoking. It is not you that should thank us ... it is us that should thank you. And the painting ain't bad either. ;-)

  21. Suzanne, it's so great to see you back. You have been missed.

  22. Hi Suzanne,

    It's totally okay to get back in the saddle... and then get off for awhile... and then get back in... (well, in your case, in and out of bed!)... do what you need, when you need, as long as the general momentum is moving forward.

    Frankie is awesome.

    You are loved.


  23. Your post has me quietly tearful and yet feeling happy that you are doing as well as you are. Your words about Tim are such a tribute! We should all have someone like Tim in our lives (my husband is pretty neat, but sometimes he is a bit lacking in the patience department:-) Glad you are working again. Looking forward to seeing what you do with the friend who is willing to pose for you.

  24. So great to see you're back at it. Love Frankie and his colorful tail!
    And what a great post and great tribute to your Dear Tim. Still shaking my head at the crass behavior of the Funeral Home. Shame on them!

  25. Hi Suzanne, even though I don't leave comments most of the time, I've been an avid reader of your blog for about three years. Tonight I want to tell you that I was so shocked and saddened to read about Tim passing away so suddenly. I 'm here thinking about you and cheering you on as you struggle to adjust to your new normal. Big hugs and lots of love....

  26. Je viens de rentrer de plusieurs jours d'absence et mon amie Susan vient de m'apprendre cette terrible nouvelle... Je n'ai pas de mot, pas de mot juste pour vous consoler ma chère Suzanne, seulement de vous dire que je vous ouvre mes bras pour vous réconforter, même si je vous semble loin...
    Je vous envoie mes plus sincères condoléances ainsi qu'un bisou affectueux...
    Courage à vous,

  27. I'm not going to say anything about your paintings. You and I both know, they are fantastic, creative, and generally wonderful. I just want to say... I love your writing, and the way you so vividly express yourself with all of us out here. Also, I know you feel so incredibly lucky to have had such a great guy, but do you know what ? That HE was so very, very, lucky to have YOU !. Even though he had such a short time on this earth, HE HAD YOU ! and you were such a soulmate to him.... it's clear to all of us ! W O W... you were both very lucky, indeed ! Keep painting, Suzanne, we love to see your work, and KEEP writing your wonderful thoughts for all of us to share with you !!!

  28. My daughter's name is Frankie. Unlike your Mr. Zippy, she's not in the process of deciding whether or not she'll be a good person. She IS a good person.
    I love your Frankie and I very much like hearing about Tim. Glad to see you posting.

  29. I have not kept up with other artists' blogs, but checked on yours tonight. I am crushed to hear about your Tim. It is so clear from your writing about him that the two of you shared a oneness that is truly rare.
    My very deepest condolences, Suzanne.

  30. Hugs and smiling with you that Frankie has flown!!

  31. What happened to my comment? I have been thinking of you so acutely lately. Sending messages and thoughts - I don't want you to suffer! I still feel gaping shock over your loss. Thank you for sharing... just hearing from you on your blog does my heart good. I love the Tim stories, too.

  32. Love Frankie, He has such spunk. Suzanne, I have not been able to tell you how sorry I am for your loss because I have a loss for words. I have been married for 30 years to my best friend and can't even imagine what you are going through but I do know you will get through. Hope everyday will get easier and that someday soon you will be able to smile again. Thank you so much for sharing.


Your visits to my blog and the comments you leave here are an integral part of my creative process. They are helpful, supportive and well, let's face it, they feel really good! If I don't thank you personally, please allow me to thank you in advance for taking the time to stop by and leave your thoughts, they mean so much!