Marty posted a photo of Susan Niebur – age 15. Then she posted a photo of both of them, age high school, on facebook. Early 90s, post 80s hairspray, Cindy Crawford eyebrows, church retreat, a stunningly familiar lack of cool. (note the word “familiar” as in “like me lookin in a mirror”)

I thought I was worrying about Susan because of her awesomeness (which I was). I thought I was emotional because I was overthinking my own mommy heart with a son born months after hers (which was true too). I thought I was holding Marty close to my heart because we’ve shared a handful of moments (I was, and we have).

I saw their teenage faces and knew with certainty that those girls were the kindred spirits of my teen years. I had missed that under the gloss of “adulthood” and labels like “musician” and “honest to gawd rocket scientist y’all”. Seeing that picture – I believed that given the opportunity, we could have rocked the back of an English class – getting As and passing notes.

Marty and Susan are the real life Anne and Diana.

In the two weeks from Susan’s last words to the readers (the last word she typed was HOPE – did you notice?) to Curt’s first words – I waited in that gap for news. Wanting to ask, but knowing to not. Not reading until after that Marty felt it too – knew about the crickets ….

Best friends for 25 years. I saw the bloggity bits of that friendship. While I’ve cried over Susan, I also have some sense of her being okay, and past the cancer and past the unfair fucking pain of the cancer. It’s Marty who twists me to the fetal position. For as honest as Susan was about living with cancer, Marty is honest about living after Susan.

Marty, the Susan shaped placed in your world is enormous, for she was yours – your person – your longest love – your best friend. Please believe that as Kristen said, you aren’t alone.  You’re in the darkness of these first days – but know that just out of your sightline are your people, right here for you. When you are ready.



“I never had any friends later on like the ones I had when I was twelve. Jesus, does anyone?” (Last line in Stand By Me)