"She’s gone."

It had only taken two words from Stephen for me to realize the worst had happened. Two simple words to change my life so completely and utterly. Had Sue really passed away only moments before? For a moment, it seemed like a dream as I’d only called her hospital room only hours before.

But after I’d hung up with Stephen, I immediately mourned over the good times that would never occur again. Ours had been an easy friendship...two strangers without faces, brought together by two passions: Duran Duran and writing.

A simple curious email from Sue had brought us together...inquiring about my love for the band that we adored. From there, we quickly developed a correspondence and later moved to chatting in real-time.

But for Sue and I, it had moved beyond a mere on-line friend. During those late night sessions, we shared hopes and dreams, hurts and failures, worries and doubts. We shared everything from the sublime to the utterly ridiculous...ranging from who was doing what to just being completely silly. We wrote as partners and edited each other’s work with the hopes of improving ourselves as writers. We encouraged each other as we took our separate leaps of faith in our respective lives. Over time, I’d learned how to read the thoughtful pauses and quick responses...to read the intentions behind the words well enough that Stephen dubbed us sisters separated at birth. We’d learned to move along the same lines of thought so easily that it had become second nature.

And over those short seven years, Sue had become what everyone hopes for: the faithful friend and sister who took the time to listen.  

I remember one night as we were discussing storylines for the writing game that we played, we were discussing the loss of her friend Joanie and discussing the randomness of the act. It had seemed so senseless at the time...no rhyme or reason to the crime and she had expressed her anger as well as difficulty in dealing with it. It was her intention to build a web site to honor her fallen friend but the rage and inability to understand why it had happened stumped her as a writer.

And I told her that now that her friend was gone, each memory and thought had become precious...something to be cherished and valued...and her tribute should reflect her light and goodness.

Who would have ever dreamed that the same words would come back to haunt me? That now, every letter, message, and word she sent me had become like gold...so valued and treasured. I find myself thanking God that in a world of 5 billion people, Sue and I happened to crossed paths...and a chance meeting had changed my life for the better.

In Sue, I learned the meaning of the true sense of family. That we weren’t just bound by name only...but by love for one another and caring for each other despite the circumstances. And through her, I gained a younger brother that made us laugh until the wee hours when we weren’t already giggling ourselves.

They say sometimes you only see Jesus at work is through the acts of others... And Sue often showed me that side...being maternal, objective and patient... A guiding and encouraging force when my world seemed to be topsy-turvy. She was the big sister I lacked...the voice that spoke through her own pains and experiences to lead me through the storms of life.

In one of our last in-depth conversations, we were discussing how scary life can be sometimes...where you only seem to hang on by your fingertips above a chasm of failure... But I’d said, "It’s easier to go through the scary parts when you have a friend to go with you. Will you come with me, Sue?"

And in typical Sue fashion, she said without hesitation, "Sure...but as long as you come with me."

And there it was, our friendship symbolized in a nutshell...walking with each other into the unknown and not daring to look back. Two sisters clinging to each other during the scary times...the stronger guiding the weaker...

So when Stephen informed me that she’d been admitted to the hospital, I instinctively knew what I had to do. This was a scary part for Sue...and I had to be there in some form. All I could think is that my sister needed me now...and I had to let her know that her biggest cheerleader was once again by her side. I had to let her know that she had truely touched so many lives and had been a blessing to many because of it.

And while I and the rest of her online friends waited anxiously for the next update from Stephen, I knew that God would take care of her...and comfort her. That God would guide her through the scary times when I was unable to. 

And, even now, as I write this with tears in my eyes, I know that God has been faithful in this regard. I know that he loved her enough to give her the existence she always wanted...a freedom without burdens or worries.

To her mourning family and friends, I offer this humble sentiment: God has not forgotten us...and will not forget the love that has been shared here through Sue’s life. There are many of her friends unable to be here, myself included, but that loved her like a sister. For us, she was a candle of life in a very dark world...and with her passing, the world feels that much more lonely and cold. But all of us know that we have truly been blessed by the life and joys that Sue brought to our lives.

And I know I have been blessed. So I thank God again...for giving me the chance to know her...to learn from her...and to laugh with her.

Susan, better known as Tigger2 to her close friends, will be sorely missed...