My Journey with Susan   -  by Mary Walden

I thank God for Susan every day.  When I saw your request about wanting people who frequented her website to share their stories, my immediate reaction was what a wonderful idea but my next thought was, no way Iíd want someone reading my story.  After attending yesterdayís prayer meeting at the Millsom home, (and Andy youíll be sorry you missed this one), I was encouraged to share what I prayed about even thou, ďWhatís shared at the Prayer Meeting stays at the Prayer MeetingĒ.   In other words, Iím feeling a bit vulnerable by sharing but here goesÖ

I could write pages about my journey with Susan. She started cutting my hair on a referral from my dear sister, Cathy, who had lived in RB for many years. Susan cut my momís hair when she moved to RB and even gave my niece Megan her first haircut (Megís going off to college next month). The person who had been cutting my hair for over 15 years was having back surgery so wouldnít be able to work for an undetermined amount of timeÖso for me, Susan was just a temporary substitute.  Although I havenít been her friend for as long as many of the other Prayer Warriors or folks who follow her website, I feel as though she has always been one of the best friends I could ever have and that she was put in my life for many reasons. 

As with most of you who have had the experience of having Susanís smiling greeting and hug, wonderful shoulder massage, and exceptional conversations when stepping into her salon (wherever that may be located), the haircut, color, wax, blow-dry, whatever you were really there for was always secondary.  I never realized at the time, but I now know I was there so Susan could help bring me closer to God.  Itís taken me 7 months of being an extra- close friend during Susanís journey to figure that out and Iím so grateful that itís finally happened.

Susan and I recently returned from a trip to Portland. She wanted to spend time with her daughter, Drew, one-on-one, driving home from college but needed to get to Eugene to start the trip. We have a mutual friend, also named Susan (who will now be called Portland Susan), who invited us to fly up and visit her with the intention of driving Susan to Eugene (2.5 hours each way).  Portland Susan, used to be Scripps Ranch Susan and was another salon transplant who also started enjoying her scheduled hair time with Susan.  About 6 years ago, Scripps Ranch Susan relocated to Portland, but continued to come to San Diego every time she needed her hair styled.  There was a reason for that tooÖit became more apparent on our trip, but I never would have guessed what that would be.

Our trip to Portland was such a special time.  I had Susan all to myself, as selfish as that sounds, but I loved it.  Personally, Iíve experienced jealousy when someone else has gotten to care for Susan, taken her to the doctor, out for a drive, PT, OT, etc.  Itís just that I love Susan so much and care so much about her recovery process that I just want to be thereÖand I was!  Susan and I have talked about Portland Susan not being a person who shares in religious beliefs and we make absolutely no judgments in regards to this.   I knew we wouldnít be saying grace before meals, and our conversations regarding Susanís incredible recovery wouldnít include a lot of discussions in detailing the many miracles Iíve witnessed and Susanís experienced in the past 7 months.

We drove the following day to Eugene to meet Drew.  In true Susan style, she commented on the incredibly beautiful countryside, gave heartfelt thanks for Portland Susan taking the time to help her connect with Drew, and shared stories of her personal journey and gratefulness at how thankful she was to be able to take this trip- something just a few months ago she wouldnít have considered.  Portland Susan admitted she has never once looked at the website, and only hears about Susanís journey thru me, so this first-hand experience was eye-opening and cause for rejoicing.   A few months ago, Portland Susanís significant other was diagnosed with kidney cancer.  His kidney was removed and there were no residual signs of cancer left and no post-surgical treatments prescribed.   Susan and I have prayed for him, and without too much discussion asked ourselves why he was so lucky with his cancer when my sweet Susan was suffering.

After a wonderful reunion with Drew, lunch, and a tour of the arena, we said our good-byes and Portland Susan and I headed back.  We hadnít been on the road for 30 minutes when I was asked about the Prayer Meetings.  I explained why they had been started, and how much I looked forward to the meetings.  I told her how far I had come in terms of attending for weeks before I ever opened my mouth (as hard as that is for most people to believe), and that sharing  wasnít a requirement, but, how strongly I felt that it was my Friday morning special time.  Our discussions lead to comments about the strength of prayer, the change itís made in my life and how much itís done for Susan.  Susanís recovery is faith and prayer based and the fact that she continuously makes a verbal statement confirming and professing this has made a huge difference in my life and I know the lives of so many others.

My mom died of a glioblastoma brain tumor in January 2007.  The woman who used to cut my hair, passed away of a brain aneurism in February 2007, several months after having her back surgery (unrelated).  When Stephanie told me about her momís seizure, and when I learned about the brain cancer I could only think about what had happened to these two women Iíd loved so very much. I ask Godís forgiveness, but I could only think about this happening to Susan too and how hard it would be to live without this incredibly special person.  Susan and I met and have been on lifeís journey together- wherever that may take us, and I got picked to take her to Portland because of prayer.  I believe Portland Susan will allow God to come into her life soon and I pray for that daily. The day before we left on our trip I bought a little dish that says, ďPray more, worry lessĒ.  I am trying to do that every day! 

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