After my little sister Susan died I could no longer cry. I think I used all my tears for her. I remain so to this day. Yesterday I found this letter in a packet of things related to her funeral. The letter is from one of her friends and I cherish it. We taped a copy of the letter to the back of her picture hanging in the Bassett Historical Center.


I Miss Susan

I miss Susan. She was my friend, and she was a good person. She was good in ways that transcend that very word. I am a better person for having known her, and she will inspire me as long as I live.

I remember when my wife first met Susan. My wife is a good judge of character, and she was excited to have made a wonderful new friend. I met Susan soon afterward, and I immediately saw what my wife had sensed. I felt good just being around Susan as if her natural good, kindness, and caring were carried loosely by her and offered to everyone she met. One had the feeling being in her presence that Susan was an extraordinary person. She took what life gave her and somehow made everything around her better. Undaunted by the travails of her life, she soared above each challenge and inspired us all to triumph.

Susan walked with a grace and dignity that quietly soothed us in ways we never sensed. I always felt so much happier, achieved a more pleasant contentment, and faced my world with a greater kindness after being with her. When my wife was once feeling low, and the right words, eluded me, I asked Susan to call her. I knew she could cheer the most disconsolate. She found the words that I could not.

To her coworkers, Susan was the shining example that kindness, respect, consideration, and compassion still have efficacy. She was very, very good at her profession. NASA has suffered a loss that will be long in repairing.

As a pilot I have felt a most profound sorrow over the manner of Susan’s passing. Something so wonderful and inspirational can, sadly, exact such a terrible price. Flying is a great contradiction. It is at once spiritually scintillating and terribly unforgiving. It sometimes calls its practitioners on an eternal flight. We who fly know deep within us that we may one day hear that eternal call. We accept this, but hold that thought beneath the memories of soaring freedom and boundless joy. Susan left this world in a special way, defying explanation or understanding. She heard the call, and she traveled to her new life borne on golden wings.

For the rest of our lives my wife will know that when I say, “She reminds me of Susan,” I have just expressed the highest of compliments. Susan was our friend, and we miss her.

Author’s Name Withheld
March 3, 1998