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"She pushed life to the max and it gave her twice the reward in half the time"

"Five things you can never recover from: the stone after it's thrown, the word after it's said, the occasion after it's missed, the time after it's gone, a person after they die."

I got this by email today and I read it thinking of someone I only met briefly who I just learned died earlier this year, leaving her 12-year-old daughter. She was 39 years old and a single mother.

For the past five years her medical team, who had told her she was not going to recover fully, kept her alive. They said they had never met anyone more positive and more defiant of the life-expectancy statistics.

Friends of mine who knew her intimately spoke about the provision she has made for her daughter. The girl still has a mother because for the next 10 years her life is planned to the last detail.

The first thing the mother did was contact her daughter's father when she got her diagnosis. He was living abroad and they agreed that he was not suited to raising a child. He saw the worth of the woman he loved, so he did what she said was the right thing.

It proved to be, as he lost his battle with addiction a year ago.

She found a family who will be her daughter's legal guardians. They are not relatives.

This amazing woman put the proposal to them a few years ago. They both went to solicitors and found a way of making it happen. It took years to work out the arrangements and social services had to get involved. In a rare example of bureaucracy meeting the needs of people, everyone worked to make sure the transition would be smooth and a grieving girl will be with people she has spent many celebrations with. For the past five years they have shared Christmas.

She has left behind boxes of materials, presents for her daughter for every birthday and Christmas cards to make sure she's going to stand by her daughter in the future. She's even written a letter to be read should she decide to marry.


I am told that the daughter is already a woman in her wisdom and helped plan her mother's funeral, which was a blast by all accounts. "She gave me so much I have enough," she said. "I had 50 years with my mother, not just 12."

The case is sensitive and the people in it are not going to live happily ever after. The blazing lioness at the heart of their experience is gone. Yet she left so much that people will feel she is still alive for years. She is. Someone like her leaves so many memories they just can't die.

To die in your 30s is wrong and should never happen, to die leaving young children even more so. But somehow this woman never let the injustice twist her into bitter behaviours. She pushed life to the max, made provision and it gave her twice the reward in half the time.

She is already helping them to recover from her loss. They have words of hers, they have occasions she made and times to remember and to come where she gave and will give something only she could, because she saw the effect of her death and knew what to do to make the unbearable easier.

She threw stones into their futures and each one has traces of her. Each one says: "I loved you more than the life I lost."

Suzanne's memoir, Heart Lines, is just published by Londubh Press priced ¤12.99