Time to say Goodbye

My time as a guest writer on Susan’s blog has come to an end… this will be my last post. I will keep her blog online for now, but feel that my guest authorship has run its course.
Some noteworthy events of the recent past:
1. We ran into Dr. Golden (UCSF pulmonologist who oversaw Susan’s care from the very beginning) at San Tung (local Chinese restaurant famous for their chicken wings). It was great to see him, to thank him for all he and his team did for Susan, and to hear him say that Susan was amazing.
2. Our cousin Eugene visited last week. It was great to spend time with him. We tried our best to give him the “Susan Yoo Tour of San Francisco.”
3. Fidel’s summer vacation is coming to an end this week.  This will be my first August in 12 years not starting a school year as a teacher…  it feels 100% refreshing, though I’m feeling the pressure to find a new full time job.  I’m back in the thick of job searching.

Thanks, readers, for keeping Susan in your hearts.

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Back on the (knitting) wagon

A couple of weeks ago, I learned that my sessions with my bereavement therapist would be coming to an end because of his upcoming move to Texas.  After the initial panic, I was overwhelmed with gratitude for the sessions we’ve had together over the past six months.  Wanting to do something to express my gratitude, I decided to knit him a scarf. The entire process was rife with symbolism.

Scrunchable Scarf

When I think about how Susan would react or feel about my grief journey, I know she would be sad at how difficult it has been.  She would shake her head at me, and probably also scold me at times.  But with this – knitting a project to thank my therapist for his attentive ear and gentle guidance – Susan would be nothing but excited and proud.  And that, to me, feels more sweet than it does bitter.




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Donate Life 5K 2014 Update

In March, I posted about our upcoming annual Donate Life 5k in Fullerton, CA.  Thank you to everyone who joined our team, made a donation, and / or supported us in other ways.  We raised a total of $2,418 to support the One Legacy Foundation’s mission of inspiring and advancing organ/tissue donation and transplantation.

I went in expecting it to be a very emotionally difficult day, and while it was, of course, emotional, it was still a surprisingly nice day.  It was great to see old friends, and meet new friends who joined our team.  Here’s our unofficial team photo:

Team "We Love YOO Susan"
Team “We Love YOO Susan”

We walked, we ran, we snacked, and we chatted in our “Handmade by Susan Yoo” t-shirts.

Susan had a spot in the Circle of Life garden:


Circle of Life Garden
Circle of Life Garden


Seeing her photo alongside the many others in the garden reminded me of how many people experience profound loss on a daily basis.  It was sad, but also lovely to see so many people in the garden, remembering their loved ones, and learning about strangers who received or donated organs.  The celebratory spirit of the event extended into the garden, and softened the bittersweetness of the day.

Over the past few years, as Susan’s mobility became increasingly limited, she would always encourage push me to do things as I always did; she never wanted others to change things to accommodate her.  So, for many reasons, I’m glad we carried on with the tradition and participated in the 5k.  I hope you’re proud of me, sis.

Oh, and that last photo made me realize – I look just like our dad!


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6 Months

Last Wednesday was exactly 6 months since Susan’s passing. Fidel and I spent it taking a day trip to Point Reyes.  When I think back to the one month mark, when I couldn’t get out of bed, I suppose I’m making “progress.”  I use quotes because I don’t like that term; it implies that grief is linear and nothing about the past six months has been linear, other than the passing of days on the calendar.  ”Progress” also implies that things should be getting “easier” another term I feel uncomfortable with – “easier” suggests that somehow, sometime, it can or will be “easy” which, to me, is absolutely absurd, and just plain wrong.  6 months of bereavement therapy has helped me find a few terms that I feel more comfortable using.  One is the term “softening”; at times, the grief feels softer than before.  The 6 month mark was softer than the 1 month mark.  Our day trip to Point Reyes was a nod to Susan’s love of the Bay Area, and in that way, brought me a dose of peace.

I wasn’t planning on taking photos, but was inspired to write a blog post about our trip because of this picture:

Good advice!

As soon as I saw it, I pictured Susan whipping out her iPhone to snap a picture to put onto her blog.  So here are a few photos from our day:

Peets getting sandy at Limantour Beach.
Peets getting sandy at Limantour Beach
Peets doesn't like sand
Peets likes the beach, but hates the sand-in-his-fur part.
One of the Bay Area’s famous cheese-eries.
Big vat of “Red Hawk” cheese being made…
Big vat turns into rounds of delicious-ness.
Big vat turns into rounds of delicious-ness…
Which becomes our lunch.
which becomes our lunch.
and lunch part 2.
Elephant seals along the shore


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Donate Life 5K 2014

On April 26th, 2014, we will be participating in the Donate Life 5K for the 5th consecutive year.  This year, our team name has changed from “It’s What’s Inside of YOO that Counts” to team “We Love YOO Susan.”

If you want to walk/run with us in Fullerton, CA on April 26, you can sign up to join our team at this website.   You can also help us meet our fundraising goal by making a donation.  Thank you to everyone who has already helped us raise money to promote organ donation.

I seriously considered not participating in this year’s walk (and will still reserve the right to make that choice as a “game time” decision), but I am motivated to follow through with the event (if by nothing else) by the exasperated reaction I imagine Susan would have over my indecision.

A few months before her passing, Susan mentioned to me that she would like to design this year’s team t-shirt.  To honor her plan, as well as her skill with all things hand-made, we are using one of her drawings on our new team shirt:

Donate Life 5k_2014 (1)

Susan drew this picture and had it made into a stamp by an artist she found on Etsy.  Our cousin Jason put the shirt together, and Cindy is organizing the shirt orders.  The shirts will be American Apparel, dark grey/black with white print.  If you want to order a shirt, please email Cindy at cindyxlin@gmail.com with your gender and size as soon as possible.

If you are able to attend the walk this year, stop by the Circle of Life Garden to see Susan’s sign.  When I emailed the event’s director to update my address and inform her of Susan’s passing, she kindly offered a complimentary sign to honor Susan.  The sign will have her picture as well as one of Susan’s favorite quotes that captures so much of her spirit – “Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.”

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