Outliving Loss

My friend Nan died June 6, 2005. She was 52. It always feels poignant she died on D-Day, since it was certainly that for me and those who loved her.

I saw her husband just the other day walking hand in hand with an attractive woman. Why this startled me, I can’t say. Nan died nine years ago, there’s certainly nothing wrong with him finding another. But I’ve often wondered, why her and not him.

I know that isn’t nice, but she was such a supreme human being, while he paled in her presence. I always felt he traipsed behind basking in her light.

Nan was very sick, so one Saturday while her husband was at a wedding she was too ill to attend, she took her own life. When I got the call I was stunned, though shouldn’t have been since she dropped hint after hint. I cursed Harry for years leaving her alone that long, something that did not serve me since we live in the same neighborhood seeing one another often.

I went so far as to cross the street to avoid having to look at him.

Resentment is a heavy responsibility weighing one down since you’re the one carrying it, not the target of your contempt. When I finally stopped hating Harry some five years down the line, it felt like a tarp had been lifted off me.

It’s not new, the good dying young. I learned that lesson in high school when a boy I knew was gunned down during a random drive-by shooting. A cop’s teenage son stole his father’s gun and went on a shooting spree ending the life of 17 year-old Ricky Santora the day before he was to go into the army.

Hailing from the poorest of families, the priest at his church convinced him the military would give him a future, starting with an education.

He was my first funeral and when they passed the hat for a tombstone, I put in my  allowance and birthday money. I’ll always remember what the modest stone said along with his dates…

A Tribute From All My Friends.

That was 44 years ago.

Sister Maria Del Rey who taught religious school, when I asked why God let Ricky die,  said, “The noble and true have a special place at God’s table, and sometimes he calls them home early because he needs them near.” I paraphrased, but not very much. She was the same nun who, when I got my period in the middle of Galatians and blood was all over my  chair, hugged me right out of my embarrassment and said, it was a blessing to be so young and healthy.

Too many people I’ve known and admired have been called to God’s table early…to remember a few.

Shelia Adams, Joyce Aronson, Francis Borelli, Frank Carneski (my dad), Dennis Cantiello, Tom Davis, Robin Foxx, Greg Giraldo, Cindy Hair, Thomas Harding, Brynn Hartman, Carol Henry, Bill Hicks, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Richard Jeni, Beverly Johnson, Justin Kim, Nancy Klein, Ricky Murphy, Beth Nelson, Robert Obersion, Richie Pagnosi, Ricky Santora, John Spencer, Cindy Toten, Jackie Vogelstein, Wendy Wasserstein.

Who’s on your list…I’d like to know.       images




About Susannah Bianchi

I'm just a girl who likes to write slightly on slant. I've had a career in fashion, dabbled in film and to be honest, I don't like talking about myself. Now my posts are another matter so I will let them speak for themselves. My eBooks, A New York Diary, Model Behavior: Friends For Life and Notes From A Working Cat can be found on Amazon.com. Thanks.
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8 Responses to Outliving Loss

  1. skinnyuz2b says:

    Susannah, it’s only natural to wonder why the better half of a couple is taken. I’ve done it myself.
    My father often said that the older you get, the fewer friends you have left. Other than grandparents an uncle, or a great-aunt, my first classmate that I lost was a Green Beret in the Vietnam War (not a conflict). He was the king of our prom, movie-star handsome, and the nicest guy you could ever meet. So many other friends have followed.
    A few months ago, I unexpectedly lost one of my best friends from college. Luckily I had visited her in Minneapolis a couple of years ago. We spoke on the phone often and wrote letters, almost a lost art. She and her husband were coming out to NY to see me this summer. I miss her horribly.


    • I’m so sorry Skinny. Grief is heavy and only lifts in its own time. I still think of Nan especially when I walk by her building. There’s a black, cast iron shelf against one wall and she’d call or email to say, I left you something. Very thoughtful she was. You can’t replace friends like that. You can make new ones, but they don’t have the hours in the air the old ones did if you will. I guess the alternative would be us exiting first, then they’d do the missing. Thanks for sharing.


  2. katecrimmins says:

    I’ve lost many friends but the most traumatic was my father who died at age 55 when I was 10. There was just no replacing him. Still miss him.


    • Wow…that even beats me being 18. I’m so sorry Kate. That must have been so hard on you…when you’re that young you’re still Daddy’s little girl, no matter what. My heart just peeked out at ya to give a salute.


  3. micklively says:

    My next-door neighbour, aged only 41, who bled to death on an operating table in Nottingham, three years ago. Yvette was a good friend to Maeve and I. Maeve still has a cry from time to time. I am sure our new neighbour thinks Maeve is seriously weird, but I know it’s just because we’re struggling to come to terms with someone else in Vetti’s space.


    • I know how you must have felt, and still feel. My friend was the nicest girl…generous and warm…her husband now has a new life. I never understand the people left standing. She was so young, and your friend even younger. Sad for all of us.


  4. My mom was just 42 (or 44, we found out she lied about her age to my dad, and he didn’t find out about it until after her death), I was 11. A girl I knew briefly in my freshman year of high school, she had bone cancer and had lost part of her leg. I went to visit her and we talked and laughed and a week later she died. My brother in law who died in his early 40’s from ALS (Lou Gehrig’s). Beautifully sweet essay.DAF


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