Monday, January 26, 2009

Changing Voices

Dear readers of “In Lieu of Speech” –

This is Susie Strasser, Judith’s sister. I'm writing to you from Madison, where I was scheduled to come on Thursday, but hearing from Nate on Saturday that Judy was declining fast, I arrived yesterday; Jed and Nazgol and Meghan came last night, and my husband Bob will be here tomorrow.

Perhaps the most important things to tell you are that Judy is not in pain and that she is at this point entirely present. She has lost interest in the news and in reading -- though she definitely finds that curious -- and has asked local people not to visit now that we are here. She is completely aware of what is happening, clearly listening to everything though she does close her eyes pretty frequently, and very much Judy Strasser. Nate has been reading her email to her, as well as comments on the blog, and she is definitely interested in, so keep commenting. She says she plans/hopes to stay as present as she is now until she dies, and that she hopes/plans/expects to die not long after Bob gets here and we've all had a chance to be together for a bit.

And the hospice nurse says she may well do it as she plans.

We will keep you up to date. Thanks so much for all of your love and support.


Robin Bechhofer said...

Dear Judith --

I feel very fortunate to have overlapped with you, if only briefly, as one of the altos in the Madison Yiddish Choir. Since I joined the choir, I have attended many of your readings and have been a faithful reader of your blog.

Although we don't have a personal relationship, I want you to know what a profound effect you have had on me -- particularly through the eloquent, powerful, yet vulnerable words you have shared on this blog. Thank you for allowing others to be part of your journey.

My love and thoughts are with you and with your family.


Nina H said...

Judy, Nina Hasen here. How incredibly irritating for me that you are dying! Why you?!!! Of course, you seem to be approaching this with much more grace and equanimity than I. Thanks for modeling how to live and die well; how to fight for your life and not hide the fight from the rest of the world. I will really really miss you and be pissed off and sad about losing you for some time to come. I wish you a peaceful and rich goodbye with your family. Bah.

Anonymous said...

Please thank Judith for her voice. I was fortunate enough to hear her at a few readings over the last few years, and for that I am grateful. I send her all the best. And thank you for the update.

Harriet said...

Godspeed, Judy, wherever you're going. I won't forget you.

Anonymous said...

Hi heard your voice on NPR Saturday and was struck by your story and how very much you sounded like my phenomenal sister who lost her struggle with metastic breast cancer in December. She too lost her voice in the same way as you. It was painful, yet comforting to hear your story and now read your blog. I sat in the driveway until your story was finished and immediately ran in the house to read about you. I thank you for putting a voice to your story and for giving me comfort in hearing your acceptance of this hateful disease. I wish you peace in your passing and comfort to your family and friends.

Audrey Waitkus said...

Thank you Susie for your thoughtful words.

Judith, you needn't worry that your voice will fade. It is always there in those closest to you, and in the many people you have touched with your friendship and your writings.

I have such fond memories of the two Poetry Camps where we crossed paths--and hearing you read from your work--and challenging discussions over meals at The Clearing.


Anonymous said...

Dear Judy,
I have been reading your web site regularly, and wanted to thank you for taking the time to share your experiences, your honest feelings, and your balanced insights. I went to school with your sons, and like them, I now also have a parent with terminal cancer. I initially read your web site to access information on local resources that I could not find elsewhere (such as your referral of a particular doctor). But I soon recognized that your weekly entries have offered much more than practical information. Reading your words has also provided a reminder of the value of gratitude and the wisdom in balanced interpretation. These are important for anyone. I have found your messages particularly important not only for myself, but also for my patients and those of my fellow psychologists. I have shared your web site with many of them (sometimes because they had cancer and sometimes because they didn't) and I will continue to do so as long as it is available.
Thank you.

Anonymous said...

You're a brilliant soul, Judy. Thanks for the gifts of your words and your strength.

Dean B

patrick below said...

Tuesday, 27 January

Dear Judith & Family,

I just "discovered" Judith and her amazing spirit and attitude this past Sunday listening to a re-run of an NPR program.

What a blessing she is and will always be to so many people including myself.

A verse in the Bible which has always given me great solace and peace is the 23rd Psalm. Particularly the phrase "...for He is always with me."

Judith is and will always be in my thoughts and prayers.

Peace be with Judith and her family.

Patrick Below

Fred B. said...

Dear Susie and other members of Judy's family,

It sounds like Judy will get her wish of a quick, comfortable death. I'm grateful for that, as I'm sure all of you are.

More important, she will leave us memories of a life lived to the fullest and with integrity.

Few of us can say that, though most of us try.

Long-distance hugs to you all.


Anonymous said...

Hello Judy;
I'm writing this message here rather than your e-mail, with the hope that Susie might share it with you. Thank you for being my friend. Thank you for visiting me in St. Thomas and reminding me that life is too short to get crazy over the small stuff.
With all my love,
Jackie K.

Anonymous said...

Dear Judith,
On behalf of the entire WCADV family, and for all of the lives of women...particularly battered women...thank you for giving us your remarkable time, energy, warmth, courage and grace. In your most humble way, you gave battered women, both known and unknown to you (those silent readers of your book!), a pathway out. You helped them see a future that was liberated and free of violence. I know so much of your recent past years you have spent much of your energy rallying for better healthcare--for obvious reasons. But you also found time and energy to help other women, of all walks but with similar circumstances to your own, find their voices. You re-wrote your own life and helped others use the power of the pen to do the same. We will miss you at the table and will remember your peaceful manner often. Thank you for being a part of our work, our monthly meetings and our lives. Wishing you a most wonderous and peaceful journey--
All our love and appreciation,
Patti Seger, Mary Jo Elert and the entire WI Coalition Against Domestic Violence (WCADV) family

Claire said...

Dear Judy,
We have been friends for over forty years -- and through a lot together. You will be with me always.
With admiration and love,

Susan said...

I have just heard your voice on "To The Best of Our Knowledge" and I am touched and inspired by your words. I followed the link to your blog to find the text because these words reflect so accurately my own feelings about death. I am grateful to know your story and to have heard these comforting words.
Blessings to you and your family and thank you.
Susan Anderson

Anonymous said...

Dear Judy,
You and I have not been in contact for years -- the last time was when we met on the bike path and did a quick update on what our sons were up to. My son recently told me of your blog, and here I am, reading your wonderful words, smiling at your humor and warmth, in awe of your courage and grace. I hope you get your wish for a quick and peaceful passing. It has been a privilege to know you. I will miss you. Barbara

elaine said...

dear judy,
i've read the comments above and i'm in awe of the beautiful way you've touched so many lives. i'm not surprised--as i know how you've affected my life and those of other friends--but grateful that so many people can wish you a beautiful farewell. i'm glad you're surrounded by your loved ones now. i don't believe in goodbyes so i'll just wish you an enlightened and glorious journey. i do believe in some type of afterlife, in case you can't tell. you'll always be in my heart
elaine rosenblatt

Diane Varner said...

Dear Judith,

We live our lives and lifetimes, never really knowing how many people we touch and influence throughout them. I just found your site via a link from someone else who was moved by you and your wisdom and talent.

How you touch my soul today, reminding me of the preciousness of life and the importance of being "awake" throughout it. I will take your thoughts and live the rest of my days remembering you, an individual that I did not meet personally but whose voice spoke to my deepest being within.

I am so glad that you are surrounded by those you love. May each of you find peace.

With immense gratitude,


Mary Kay Reidle said...

I can't speak for everyone that attended one of your writing workshops, but you sure have helped me have a voice now. I am no longer the little "mouse in the corner" when it comes to domestic voilence. I will cherish the book that you autographed for me at the dinner. I was the "rubber band" spokeperson afraid to snap. I am much stronger now thanks to you.
You will be missed more than you know.
Mary Kay Reidle

Hal Woolf said...

Dear Judith -- Know that you have been an incredible inspiration to many!

Charlotte and Hal Woolf

Anonymous said...

Hello Judith,

I don't expect that you will remember me - we met over 15 yrs. ago when we were both on a Plan 2000 committee for MMSD. At the time, I was working at PICADA, along with Mimi Millen. In Dec., Mimi gave me your book, Facing Fear. I immediately noted your acknowledgement of Dr. Holen. Kyle has been part of my "chosen" family ever since he moved here. I'm glad to know that you've been the recipient of his kind, compassionate care.

So Judith, we've traveled on this big web together for some time... You've touched my life in many different ways - from your intelligent stories on WPR, to our collaboration on the committee, and most recently through your words of deep wisdom in your writing.

I am grateful for your many gifts - in particular for your candidness in sharing both your vulnerability and the wisdom gained as you've faced many fears.

I wish you a peaceful journey as you face the light.

Kathy Germann

Anonymous said...

It was always enlightening to hear her over the years on the radio and it was a privilege to read her thoughts on her blog.

Thank you so much.

Sharon K.

Anonymous said...

Dear Judy,

My sister in New York is reading your book. All of us will spread your blessings far and wide. Thank you for taking me to Chicago, for leading the way, for helping me move ahead with my writing. Godspeed. We will all follow in time.



Mark Linzer said...

good morning Judith and family. I have read much of the blog and the marvelous and supportive comments of family and friends. As one of your doctors, it has been my privilege to care for you. Your approach to your long and arduous illness has been nothing short of inspirational, over and over again. With and without voice, your personal spirit has triumphed, lasted, thrived. It has been a long journey, and I am grateful for the opportunity to have been a part of it with you. I send very best wishes for this next phase from Elaine and me and everyone at University Station clinics.

Mark Linzer

Anonymous said...

Dear Judith,

Your strength will always be with us when we paddle our TEAMSurvivor Madison dragon boat. You have exemplified the example of living life to the fullest. Godspeed on your incredible journey. Paddles ready!
Take her away!

Marilyn Bauer

Nancy Saulsbury said...

Dear Judith,

You'll always be present in our Dragon Boat. I feel honored to have shared last summer's experience with you, to have been in our boat together, to have paddled strong, to have been inspired by you and your passion for life.

We're just finishing final edits on Rutabaga's Canoecopia publication - we are using the article you wrote about your experiences with Team Survivor's such a moving piece and I am struck again by your words...your memories...

you wrote:
"...wonderful memories: a green heron that greeted us as we paddled our team’s own dragon boat back to its Rutabaga home; the great blue heron that watched us work our way along the Mud Lake shore; the camaraderie with women who cared for each other more than they cared about winning races; the golden evenings, with the sun low in the sky and the swallows darting under the Beltline bridge, and the echos of our call..."

I'll miss'll be there when we paddle.

Wishing you peacefulness as you gather with family.

Nancy Saulsbury

Anonymous said...

Dear Judith,
Thank you for giving us a glimpse of dignity in dying, for showing us how to find our "voice".

with gratitude.

Joanne said...

Judy, we will miss you. You've been on such a journey since you moved in next door to us (before we moved away) and you set Nate and Jed to work digging up the creeping Charlie. It never did work ... As long as I've known you, and Nate and Jed, I've seen your remarkable-ness: your love of learning and engaging people, your forthrightness, your power. The rebroadcast of your talk about death last Sunday again made me a little teary, but reminded me that there is a straightforward way to die, which is a good. Blessings on you and your family.

Joanne Brown

will.seidel said...

I recently heard your piece on TBOOK. You are an inspired storyteller - I feel lucky to have discovered your work.

Good luck!

Marilyn Taylor said...

Judith, your life was an inspiration to us all. How I wish I'd gotten to know you better-- I heard about your astonishingly courageous struggle through your friends, several of whom are my friends, too. I know that you are already gone as I write this, but you are still so much of a presence that I cannot talk about you in the third person.

Long may you wave, Judith. Your time here was magnificently well spent.

Marilyn Taylor

Beverly said...

I'm touched to learn that your passing was peaceful, Judith, and I feel all the love of all those whose lives intersected with yours. Godspeed on your next journey!


Anonymous said...

I only hope I can muster half your dignity when it's my time.