“Stop it, or I’ll start crying,” Susan said.
“But I want you to know how much I love the blanket you gave me,” I said.
I shared my love of her blanket just months before Susan Tuttle’s passing. She had a habit of giving me small presents, usually cat themed. My favorite is a leopard printed throw in unusual and bright colors. I curl up under that blanket most every time I sit in my lounge chair.
Susan and I enjoyed a great love of cats. Her last cat was an imaginary girl named PITA (pain in the ass), and I have six food-to-poop converters. I bet PITA didn’t throw up hairballs daily. I wonder if I could get an imaginary cat or cats.
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Susan was a friend whom I would grow to love deeply and who would change my life in both insignificant and monumental ways. However, I didn’t know that back in the late summer of 2008 when I met her at a SLO NightWriters’ monthly meeting. She had just returned from her mother’s funeral services back East. As president of the club, she noticed I was new and walked up to me and stuck out her hand in greeting and friendship.
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Susan joined the Friday Night Writers’ Critique Group soon after we met. I can’t imagine the meetings without her dynamic presence. I learned so much about writing from her that I started to enter contests and win sometimes.
Susan’s son, Aaron, designed the book cover for the first anthology by the Friday Night Writers’ group. It was published just over three years ago. Susan’s son designed all her beautiful book covers. Talent runs in her family.
Susan followed me kicking and screaming into the computer world, teaching her about websites and how to put a book on Amazon. I worked on her website for many years before she took over. With the help of Aaron, she created a very impressive website visually and content-wise. She published her next thirty books without any help—leaving me in the dust.
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We formed an attachment that deepened over the years. We shopped and hung around together at Cuesta Writers’ conferences year after year. We had long phone conversations, sometimes late at night into the morning hours. Neither one of us turned down a Costco hot dog lunch date or pizza either.
Susan knitted, and she taught me a stitch that she created and I incorporated in into a few of my scarves. The funny part about this is she described the sequence of knit and purl stitches over the phone. She didn’t teach me in person. That’s how great a communicator she was, regardless of the subject.
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Susan was such a prolific, diverse, and talented writer. I don’t know anyone else who wrote so many stories in different genres—and they were all good. Her mysteries were my favorite, though. I will miss her imagination and the stories she brought to life.
She wasn’t selfish about sharing her writing knowledge, either. She was patient in teaching me how to write, never leaving me feeling stupid or insecure about the piece I was working on. She nurtured me until I had my writer’s voice and then kept my voice when she edited something I’d written.
I learned a lot about being a Christian, too by watching a good human being who forgave her friend’s foibles, outbursts, and sometimes gutter mouth.
I think we both grew from our friendship. I don’t even know the depth of the loss, yet. I’m scared to find out.
I take comfort in knowing that she is with our Lord, and I pray for her son, Aaron, her family, and many friends.
Miss you, Susan.