I first met Suzanne when I was 13. I was dating my now husband, who just happens to be her little boy. I remember being nervous going to his house. Meeting the parents is always nerve-wrecking, especially when you're an awkward teen. But the woman that I met was among the most kind-spirited, beautiful people I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. Suzanne was literally the perfect wife and the perfect mother. She was very June Cleaver-esque, and never had an unkind word to say about anyone or anything. (And if she did, she kept it to herself.) I was fortunate enough to be in her presence many times, and she was always making cookies, treats, and sandwiches for us. I remember she gave the best hugs and always had a smile on her face.
Suzanne was very involved in her church, in her marriage, and in her family. She was literally the rock that held everyone together. She was active in her childrens' lives, was always there for them and did all she could to make every day special. She showered them with her love, with her wisdom, and with her unwavering faith. Whether it be trips to Disney and breakfast with Mickey, supporting her kids' sports teams or cheerleading, or trips to the family's summer house and lazy days on the beach on Lake Michigan, Suzanne made every day magical for her kids. She was the mother I want to be when I grow up.
But the thing that really made Suzanne stand out in my mind was her genuine kindness and love for life. She was the type of person who would gladly give someone the shirt off of her own back if she felt she could make a difference. She was always there to listen if anyone had a problem, and she genuinely cared for those around her. Suzanne had true beauty and grace, which emanated from the inside out. Her laughter was infectious, and you just couldn't help but smile when you were around her.
Suzanne never got to see her kids get married, and she never got to meet her grandchildren. While she wasn't physically here for her childrens' happiest days, I truly believe she is looking down on all of us and would be incredibly proud. My gorgeous Sister-In-Law, Cindy, inherited her Mom's loving spirit and generosity and is happily married to a soldier. My husband and I have been married for almost 4 years and have 2 beautiful babies, Sophia Suzanne and Xander Eric, who she would absolutely love to pieces if she were here. She would even love Kyle, my oldest child, who is not biologically Dan's son. You see, with Suzanne, family was never about biology. Family was about the love, laughter and dedication shared between those around her.
While my babies will never get to hug their Grandma Suzanne, she will be a part of their lives. We show them pictures all the time, and as they get older, we will tell them stories about the beautiful human being she was. Suzanne may have lost her battle with Cancer, but she is still very much alive in those who knew and loved her. I don't think there was a life that she didn't touch in some way. Her kind, gentle spirit was passed on to her children, and will be passed on to her grandkids as well. I think what I have learned most from Suzanne, even if my time around her was brief was this: Laugh often, love whole-heartedly, forgive and forget, be kind to everyone you meet, and always have faith. Suzanne was truly an example of everything good in this world, and she will not be forgotten. She lives inside of us everyday. I just pray I can live up to her example and be the kind of mother...the kind of woman that she was.
Merry Christmas, Mom. We love and miss you everyday.