Sue, Stavros, and a New Furry Companion

Monday, March 11th, 2013 | Family, Stavros

Over the past few months, Stavros came to San Francisco for a visit, my older sister Sue died, and Big Chrissy bought a dog.

Sue was someone who loomed large over my artistic and emotional development. She was there my entire life, always a presence, always available, always loving… just always there. There’s nothing comparable to losing her, and no metaphor that I can imagine that accurately describes the feelings of total panic and despair that I feel when I see and hear her so vividly and completely in my imagination, and yet can’t pick up the phone to talk to her, can’t touch her. Ever again.

Stavros was visiting during her final week, and the day after he left I flew to Tampa with my sister Diane to join the rest of the family, who had already gathered at Sue’s home. She acknowledged us when we arrived, excitedly, but was unable to speak. I stayed with her until dawn, holding her hand and stroking her hair. Later in the day, her friend Debbie put a feather in her hand and told her that it was okay to go, to fly away. She then stopped breathing.

All of my family and her close friends quickly gathered in her home. My sisters and I changed Sue into one of the fabulous outfits that she had made, resplendent in blue. Holding her dead weight in my hands as we changed her, the life and animation draining from her, her skin growing quickly cold, her eyes not able to stay shut… I experienced her deadness completely. And yet I can say, honestly, that I can’t believe that she’s gone. It’s like something completely impossible and irrational is happening. How can someone so alive be dead?

I stayed a few weeks in Tampa to help my sister Carol with Sue’s things. At first, being in her house was comforting, like we were still surrounded by her presence. But then as we started dismantling her home, it got harder and harder. I’d be fine, then I’d be watering the plants that she so carefully chose, thinking that she would never see them mature, and then I’d just break down.

Death is something that I know. I’ve lost lovers and best friends, distant family members, but this was something more than the loss of a loved one, it was the loss of a part of me, a tangible extension of my flesh, cut off completely and incinerated. I remember the day, about 8 years ago, when it first dawned on me that being almost the youngest of 7 kids, I’d have to see most of my siblings go before me. It was an idea that totally terrified me at the time, as I love them all so dearly, and couldn’t imagine life without them. But now one of them is gone, and the job of living without her begins. I love Sue so much, and miss her with such intensity and grief. She was only 59, still at the peak of beauty and engagement with life. It’s just not fair.

In the few weeks before she died, Stavros flew out to San Francisco for a 3 week stay. Upon his arrival, we both got the flu and ended up in bed in a way that had not quite figured its way into my fantasy life. When we were both feeling better, he announced that he was leaving the next day, that it couldn’t work, that he didn’t feel anything, that it was over. This happens pretty much every time we’re together. I convinced him to stay another week, that I felt like it was unfair to leave so quickly, that he was conflating homesickness with emotional detachment, to give it a little bit of a chance. We had a wonderful week together and seemed to be back on track by the time he left for Greece.

After making plans with him a few days ago, I purchased tickets to fly to Athens for the month of May, and right on cue, he then announced, again, that he doesn’t want me to come and that it’s over. I’ve been through this so many times that I can’t as of yet take him seriously, but I’ve been through it enough to think to myself, “Maybe a nice Jewish boy??” I adore this man. When we’re together we have so much fun. But after nearly a year, he can’t tell me how he feels about me. My need for dialogue and assurance conflicts with his… something, I’m not quite sure yet, but there’s a conflict—maybe just his need for NO dialogue and assurance?? I do feel his love for me, though, he just can’t say it. When I prompt him, his response is to run away or to try to cut me off again. I always tell him no, I won’t let him break up, because he’s not running away from me, he’s responding to fear and frustration and we can address those issues together.

The idea of a relationship was perhaps a great idea to him, but he’s seeing it now in conflict with the way he’s become accustomed to being in the world—single and free. I’ve stayed because I feel something behind all of the posturing and rejection, a real connection, and I’m intent on letting that connection blossom. Maybe I’m just watering the plant too much?

We’ll end up spending a wonderful month together, I’m sure. We either figure out how to comfort and assure each other, or we don’t. I know the feelings are there, the problem seems to be in the articulation. This doesn’t seem like it would be that tough, huh?

Some unconditional love has arrived in a 12-pound bundle of love named d’Auggie Van de More. d’Auggie is a Golden Doodle, a cross between a golden retriever and a poodle. He chews on anything that isn’t 3 feet off the ground. Shirts, table legs, chair legs, people legs, shoes, plants, rugs. Big Chrissy drops him off at my house early in the morning. He licks my face and jumps into my lap as I read the paper and stares at me with those dark puppy eyes. My day revolves now around his excretory needs. Chris’ sister Margie taught him to ring a bell to go outside when he has to pee. Although peeing on the floor or carpet sometimes seems like a better idea.

He even has a Facebook page! Check him out here.

9 Comments to Sue, Stavros, and a New Furry Companion

March 11, 2013

Hey , you sound like Mr Perfect, I know that you are , but be decent 😛

March 12, 2013

Δεν είμαι τέλειοσ, πουτσακι μου, αλλά θα προσπαθήσω!

David Crisler
March 11, 2013

Thank you Cris. This was so beautiful. I echo your feelings almost to the letter. The total despair, panic and disbelief. Some losses are just so great and there is no way we can hold the experience without part of ourselves shattering and dying too. There is nothing we can do to make it go away and no place to hide. It seems so incredulously unreal and wrong, yet it is simultaneously the most real thing I have ever experienced in my life. The mind simply cannot understand it.

My dear friend and brother, I know how much you loved Sue and how dearly she loved you back. To do her honor, we must somehow evolve and grow spiritually from the pain and emptiness, knowing that the only way through is to open the raw, naked heart ever wider, eventually acknowledging her passing as a gift of transformation – a gift of her grace – because that is how she would want it. Shock is a manifestation of the Super Natural – the sacred reality behind the dream of life. Let us incorporate the profound opportunity to put our lives in order, to grow closer to that dimension where she is One with us, in Love, beyond Time, where there is no birth and no death. In typical Sue fashion, with resourcefulness and courage, she has scouted ahead and blazed the path for us to follow. Walk softly, but with purpose over those hills to the horizon, where the Silent Ruler blows the wind.

David Crisler

March 12, 2013

Thank you, David. Your words are a comfort, bro! xoxo

Diane Wallis
March 11, 2013


I admire your ability to write about what you’ve been going through. Thanks for sharing that. I hope the next few months are easier and that your friends and family and d’Auggie bring you some joy and comfort. Thinking of you !


March 12, 2013

Ευχαριστώ, Diane!

Angie Romagnoli
March 11, 2013

Very touching to read Chris, very vivid and made me cry. I am so sorry for your most painful loss of Sue and glad for Stavros and D’Augie.

March 12, 2013

Thank you, Angie!

March 12, 2013

Hello CoCo, Wuz very moved by your writing about The Q. It is just how I feel. I love you, little brother.
xo Didi

Leave a comment

Sign up!

Enter your email address to subscribe to my blog and receive notifications of new posts by email



%d bloggers like this: