She percfectly showed a mother#039;s love

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 30, 2003

We move through this world touching each other's lives and may never realize the shadows those encounters leave.

I thought about that when I heard about the passing of someone I knew years ago. The truth is we were more acquaintances than friends, but I have such a strong memory of my brief time knowing her.

I don't remember exactly when or how we meet. It could have been when I worked as a lifestyles editor doing a story about Junior Miss, a program she worked with for so long. Or it might have been when I was a reporter covering one of the other civic activities in which she was involved.

Her youngest daughter, along with my son, was on my husband's soccer team when he coached a group of kids who were in middle school. We, the two mothers, spoke when she came to pick her child up from practice or when we ran into each other in the grocery store.

I remember her smile because it was so bright and friendly.

But it was a particular experience that I thought about when I heard she died suddenly in an accident.

It involved her daughter and one of her daughter's best friends. It was not surprising that it was something to do with one of her children because you didn't have to know her well to understand that her family was the center of her world.

One day I got a call from this mother asking if the newspaper could help with something. That was the start of my covering a story that is one of the ones that touched me most during my days in the newspaper business.

Her daughter's friend, she explained, had cancer and needed a bone marrow transplant. The procedure was expensive and the family didn't have the money.

The girls were only nine-years-old and it was hard for kids that age to grasp the possibility of life ending. So her daughter did what most children do - she turned to her mother for answers and help, and that led to the call that came to my desk that day.

I remember the voice on the other end of the line telling me she had no answer for her child other than telling her they would do what they could for her friend.

That started something that eventually involved the entire community in an effort to save this child. I wrote the stories and followed the fund raising activities. I also wrote the final chapter when help was too late.

While it didn't have the ending everyone wanted, the experience touched a town and brought people together, linked their hearts in a common purpose.

The woman who played a part in setting that into motion stepped back once things started rolling and let others take the forefront. She had followed her heart and had done what she could because it was important to her child and to the friend her daughter loved. That is what good mothers do - love their children so much they move heaven and earth for them if they can.

When I heard about her death, I thought about how she so perfectly showed a mother's love in action and how that experience has remained with me all these years.

We pass through this world touching each other's lives, sometimes only briefly. The most important things we leave behind are not material; something I know Susan Sullivan understood because she demonstrated it in the way she loved her family.

As I said I didn't know her well, but I am grateful for my encounter with Susan and for the shadow she left in my life.