Friday, October 5, 2007

We Miss You, Susan

A tribute to Susan Blake by Leonard Lehrman

We miss you, Susan.
We miss your calling and saying "How did you know it was me?"
Who else would call us at 11:30, 12:30, 1:30 in the morning even!?
Occasionally we'd be asleep, but usually we weren't,
and were always happy to hear from you.
Of course you almost always had something for us to do.
But that's ok. If no one else could do it, you knew you could ask us.
You were our conscience, the Social Conscience of Long Island,
and we treasured knowing and working with you.
In the two and a half years we've known you,
since you phoned us in response to Janet Coleman's WBAI interview with me,
you became a member of our family,
at least as close to me as my own brother and sister.
Could it have been mere coincidence
your having been born on my parents' anniversary?
and my having been born on your parents' anniversary?
After Karen, my first wife, died on Christmas 2005,
it was you who helped me pack and sort the clothes she left.
You were just her size, and age - 9 days older to be exact.
Those you chose looked good on you.
The closeness we had never extended beyond hugs and occasional
meaningful hand-holding.
But who else was eager, and welcome, to attend a concert or come
skinnydipping with me? -
the joy you took in those renewing, cleansing ocean baths!
And how many wonderful things you, my dear wife Helene, and I did together -
birthdays at the beach in our birthday suits
A Blitzstein Cabaret
E.G.: A Musical Portrait of Emma Goldman
the Berrymans
Shakespeare & Mother Courage in the Park (waiting for hours for
tickets in the torrential rains)
the Puffins in Manhattan and Teaneck
the Living Theatre
tributes to Mozart, Dr. King, Elie Siegmeister, Joel Mandelbaum,
Morris Schappes, the Rosenbergs,
BAJOUR, Barber, Naturism, Cindy Sheehan, The Green Party...
and perhaps above all: Conscience.

Conscience is not a leaf in the wind to be shaken at a gust
but a deep root holding fast because it must.

That was you, Susan.

We miss you, Susan.
But we know what you'd say:
Don't mourn, organize.
And don't just organize, be peacesmiths - get involved.
Think before you do, but then do it.
No one can do everything.
But everyone can do something.
There's always so much to be done - and always will be -
for each other, for others, and for ourselves -
but not just for ourselves.

If we are not for ourselves, who will be for us?
If we are only for ourselves, what are we?
And if not now, then when?

Sometimes some issues have to be prioritized over others.
But that doesn't mean they are to be forgotten.
And you Susan, as long as there are people
with souls on fire to do justice and struggle for peace
As long as there are people who care
or can be brought to care
about war
and capital punishment
Sacco & Vanzetti
Ethel & Julius Rosenberg,
Alger Hiss
Mumia Abu Jamal
about immigrants' rights
women's rights
human rights
about health care and alternatives
about folk and concert music
laughing and dancing - If I Can't Dance, It's Not My Revolution!
then you, Susan, you who goaded and prodded,
facilitated and coordinated,
and led by your example,
You will never be forgotten.

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