Wednesday, August 19, 2009

7 Months later...

Greetings to all who followed this blog,

Unbelievably, it's been 7 months since Dan'a death. Before writing I reread a bit of the last posts--just snippets, since it's not the healthiest of activities to read and re-read some of those days. I was surprised at how I described things as if they were happening in a movie...how my writing was somewhat detached in order to remain communicative and functioning. The truth is the way I felt then and feel now is both physically and emotionally intense--at times overwhelming.

To relate it to another experience, I was in a rollover car crash when I was a kid. For some reason I was totally uninjured, so as soon as I was able to get out of the car, I started trying to figure out what to do about the situation: how were we were going to find someone to help us in the middle of nowhere? Is my sister ok? How damaged is this car? I remember distinctly that a bunch of Cd's had flown out of the car and were scattered everywhere. I started picking them up and putting them back, as if the act of restoring order would make it all OK. It was a needed distraction which prevented emotional chaos. On a completely different level, that is what I think happened after Dan died. Pure shock forced me into clean-up mode...and just like post-car crash, when the shock wears off, the picture becomes clearer and one feels more keenly the effects of reality. This is where I am today.

Now, as I sit and write in the tiny village of Cannon Beach, Oregon, the sun is shining (it's been an unusually "hot" they say) and summer is going and going...although not gone! For those of you who don't know my connection to this place, my mom owns a small motel in this touristy coastal town. My sister owns and operates a boutique. I have been alternately playing maid (indentured servant) and "lotion intern", helping them both during this busy season. It's been a lot of work, thankfully, and since I actually love physical labor, I've been mostly happy to pull weeds, make beds, and generally sweep up sand off of everything!

This is also the place where Dan and I were married on October 23, 2004. The dreamy picture on this blog was taken steps from my mom's place. The ocean is amazing, vast, and humbling, so every chance I get I run out there to walk on the sand or catch a glimpse of the sunset. It often makes me think of a poem Dan wrote--I think after his first visit to this place in 2002.

The Ocean cannot be convinced.
Its tide moves
In and out at will
And when
We recklessly try to change it,
It won't.

But this inevitability
Almost comforts me,
For I can count on
The rocking of the dock,
And a vast eternity
Of foaming sea.

A lot of people look for signs of the person they have lost or have dreams where the person visits and it's so real it's like seeing them again. This has not been my experience. I often imagine what Dan might do or say at a certain moment and I am always thinking about how what I am doing or saying is different because of the 11 years we knew each other, the difficult fact I face is that there was a past, but this present and future goes on without Dan. Sometimes this makes me angry, sometimes sad...a lot sad. I long to talk with him, to laugh with him, to brainstorm our lives together, but I can't. It's an impossible, unbelievable fact, but it's reality, and life is best lived in reality.

Something I started doing the day after Dan died was writing down specific memories--things he said or experiences we had; inside jokes and Dan-specific philosophies. Maybe I watched too much "Little House on the Prairie" as a kid, where the children always said things like, "I'm starting to forget ma..." but nevertheless I was in panic mode trying to preserve every last detail of Dan--somewhat as proof of how wonderful/unique/brilliant he was...but also to keep him alive to me. I scanned fragments of unfinished novels, pieces of character sketches, poems and letters he wrote to me...anything I could find--into our really slow scanner. Most of the time I did this late into the night--just as long as I could finish before I moved.

I have a perhaps irrational fear that people who never met Dan will think I am exaggerating or pulling a "hindsight" manoeuvre when I describe him, but as a wise friend of mine pointed out, even if that's true, it doesn't and cannot matter, since everyone had their own personal experience of Dan to begin with. Some knew him as the board game organizer; some as the 10-year-old boy who played the viola his grandfather bought him; some the intimidating and tall blond guy from Texas. I think of him as the best of the best of humanity. I think of myself like a person who won the jackpot but then lost it in a cruel bet with fate. But my experience of Dan...anyone's experience of Dan, cannot be diminished or taken away. We each own these experiences and they are indeed great gifts.

But all of this inspired talk does not take away from the fact that I miss him terribly and constantly and I wish I could have done something to have changed this outcome.

As in the past, I really appreciate anyone passing along these updates or the blog in general to friends, family, and even acquaintances. I have been so pleased to hear how deeply people have been affected by Dan's words. It's my hope that we can all share thoughts and memories about Dan here on this blog or delivered to my email address: susanmfritz@gmail.com, where I can work on a new compilation of sorts.

One more thing...if anyone out there is uncertain about whether or not to call or write me, please don't hesitate to do so...I am out here in the wilderness with the elk and raccoons, but I do love human contact! I'd love to know what YOU are up to, too, as I come closer to deciding what I will be up to next.

Much Love,
Susan

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Thank you to All


Dear friends, family, and followers of this blog,

A good friend of mine reminded me of what I'd been meaning to do for a while now...update those of you who couldn't attend either memorial service. Dan's mom, Elizabeth Carlson, held another service in Minnesota this past weekend for many family and loved ones who were connected to Dan as a child growing up there (Dan lived near Minneapolis until the age of 10 when he moved to Texas). In other words, these past weeks have been filled, and I am just now starting to write people back.

This blog is a start, though, in my quest to thank all of you for the many different ways you've carried both Dan and I thought this past year and especially this past month. I would love to single out each significant person and give you all individual awards (maybe even a blue ribbon or 2), but for now I will just collectively thank everyone who shared their time, memories, and photos of Dan at the Memorial service in Philadelphia. You know who you are, but perhaps you'll never understand how amazing you are (I encourage you to try).

For those of you who were unable to attend, you were still there in spirit, and your cards, emails, thoughts, and prayers across the miles carried me through some of the darkest times. This continues to be true since each time I go to my mailbox I find a new heartfelt note...perhaps it has something to do with how young Dan was, but people are able to express themselves in a way that is uncommonly clear; your anger and sadness is almost primal.

I wish I could share every moment of the Philadephia Memorial with you here, but the truth is it was a bit of a whirlwind for me. However, the most important impression I took away was a phrase I've repeated to myself and others often: "they really got Dan". And I mean this in the most significant sense of the word "got". As his wife and biggest fan, I always understood what he was all about, but I was so touched that every person who spoke about him understood that his highest value and intention for living was to bring people together. Of course, Dan had a million other goals and values, but that in particular was abundantly clear and understood by all. And it made me happy to see that whether he knew it or not, people did indeed "get" that about Dan.

That's all for now, but I may add a few pictures or additional thoughts about the service. I also will continue to update you in other ways...i.e. "Susan has joined the circus" or "Susan has build the world's first biodegradable veggie hot dog hut and will be back when it biodegrades". To overuse this phrase, "in other words", I will continue to keep you updated, just as Dan will continue to live on in all of our hearts.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Dear family, friends, and loved ones -

Daniel Larry Fritz passed away on January 31. 2009. We would like to
extend our deepest sympathies to all of you in this incredibly
difficult time. Susan Fritz would like to invite all of you to attend
Dan's memorial service:

Date: February 15, 2009
Time: 4:00pm
Place: St. Mary's Episcopal Church
3916 Locust Walk
Philadelphia, PA

These services will take place on the University of Pennsylvania
campus, where Susan and Dan met - a place that Dan loved dearly.
Directions to campus are available at this website:
http://www.admissionsug.upenn.edu/visiting/directions.php
Once at 34th and Chestnut, you can make a left onto 34th street and go
three streets to Spruce Street. Turn right and make your way up to
39th street. You cannot access Locust Walk by car. You will have to
walk from either Spruce Street or Walnut Street.

After the service will be a more informal gathering, where all of
Dan's loved ones can share stories, pictures, poems - any kind of warm
memories associated with Dan. We will have some journals available at
this venue so that you can write any memories or stories as well. Food will be
provided at this venue:

Date: February 15, 2009
Time: 6:00pm
Place: The Carriage House
3907 Spruce Street
Philadelphia, PA

While such a gathering cannot help but be filled with great sadness, Susan
requests that we take it as an opportunity to celebrate Dan's life and
the happiness he brought to all of us.

In lieu of flowers, please direct donations to help Susan pay for
Dan's medical expenses and other associated expenses. Susan has a paypal account under her email susanmfritz@gmail.com.To donate money, please go
to www.paypal.com. If you don't already have a paypal account, it is
free and easy to set one up. You can choose to make payments with a
credit card or from a bank account. Once you have an account set up,
click on the "send money" link. From there, fill in the "To" field
with Susan's email address: susanmfritz@gmail.com.

If you do not wish to use paypal, checks can be mailed to :
Susan Myhr Fritz
37 Wall Street # 19H
New York, NY 10005

Finally, if anyone has pictures that they would like to share at the
gathering after the service, we request that you please send them to
Jim and Lynda Calderwood, who have kindly offered to gather all the pictures
and put them into a slide show. If you can attach them in an email to
lynda.calderwood@att.net, that would be wonderful.

If you have any questions or comments concerning the services, please contact:

Amanda Petry petry.amanda@yahoo.com (or call me at 724 229 0312).
Carrie Rieger Brownlie c.rieger.brownlie@gmail.com
Lisa Campbell lscampbe@alumni.law.upenn.edu


Warmest regards,
Amanda, Carrie, and Lisa

Friday, February 6, 2009

Here are the basic plans for Dan's Memorial Service. Thank you so much to my good friends from Penn who have organized the place, time, and date so that you may make your travel plans.

The service will take place next Sunday, the 15th. St. Mary's Church at 3916 Locust Walk is reserved for the service to begin at 4:00 (it may end up being closer to 4:30). We also have the Carriage House at 3907 Spruce St. reserved from 5 until 8 where there will be food available. The Carriage House will be an opportunity for people to share stories, pictures, and memories of Dan.

As far as hotels and travel goes, I know that our friend William Shatner at Priceline has many deals to offer for those who need to fly, and my friend Carrie has found some deals at hotels.com. I will give you the email addresses of these 3 amazing women so you can organize, coordinate, and ask any questions you might have. If they don't know the answers I'm sure they can direct you to someone who does.

This is a very sad time for all of us but also an amazing opportunity to get together to honor Dan and help each other with our grief.

Here are some places she found on hotels.com:

Sheraton Philadelphia University City Hotel $120/night
36th And Chestnut Sts
Philadelphia, PA, 19104
866-539-0036

Hilton Inn At Penn &150/night
3600 Sansom St
Philadelphia, PA, 19104
866-539-0036

Please email:

Carrie Rieger Brownlie: c.rieger.brownlie@gmail.com
Lisa Campbell: lscampbe@alumni.law.upenn.edu
Amanda Petry: petry.amanda@yahoo.com

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Hello, all.

It may go without saying, but I am absolutely overwhelmed (in a good way) by your comments, memories of Dan, and offers to do anything to help. I wasn't very good for most of the year at taking people up on offers to help since it was sometimes difficult to even come up with anything, but I have to say that I'm ready for some help...and I think that what I need will come in stages; in waves.

I don't want to keep people hanging, especially since there is such geographic diversity for people, so I'll tell you the basic plan. Some good friends are working on the specific location, but the memorial service (tribute, I'd say) for Dan will be in Philadelphia President's Day weekend. Perhaps the 15th...although I can't guarantee that at this point. Dan and I met at the University of Pennsylvania when we were 18 and he spent many of his happiest times there. It feels right to me to all meet there.

Even if I get new news this evening I will write a new post, but for now, I'd ask you to all plan on President's Day weekend in Philadelphia.

All my love and gratefulness,
Susan

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Many of you already know what happened yesterday and saw it coming in what I wrote, but Dan left us yesterday at around five minutes to 4 o'clock in the afternoon.

There's nothing that can really help me or anybody else from feeling intense devastation, pain, and sadness, but I will tell you how it happened and maybe you will smile a little through your tears.

Dan was supported by a breathing tube and different medications that were essentially keeping him artificially alive. It was a matter of time before his body gave out in spite of all of this support, but no one could say how long. We discussed with the doctors whether or not to keep him on these drugs or to start to remove them and let Dan die naturally...either way he would be comfortable, but in my mind and according to Dan's wishes, removing the support would be one last way for him to take back some control...to let him decide instead of medicine. I wanted to give him that, but as I sat there and they turned down only the blood pressure medication, I agonized over what to do next and thought I couldn't possibly let him go. It seemed like a split second later and without warning the doctor gave a surprised look at the medical monitor and said that Dan had just passed. These monitors have a lot of information on them and I saw the same "0" he did, but I was totally taken aback and couldn't believe he went just like that. The nurses and doctors all had said that people pick their time to go, but I didn't quite believe them until that moment.

I had somewhat of a "typical Susan" reaction. I laughed while I cried and then wondered how I could possibly be laughing. I said "thank you, Dan" over and over because HE decided, and it was clear he was ready and wanted to go on his terms. He amazed me yet again. I think I laughed because I felt a little relief and a profound sense of gratefulness to him for helping us all through that final moment. My mom, his mom, and I were all there, and I told him over and over before and after he was sedated how much everyone loved him and cared about him, and that it was ok to be tired because we know he gave it all he had.

If I could change anything, I would have taken this terrible illness away from Dan and thrown it back into the pits of hell where it belongs, but since I couldn't do that, the only other option was to let him go so this pain could end.

I'm sure many of you are wondering what kind of service we will be having for Dan, and I've just begun to work on that and have some ideas that I think will pay tribute to him, but as you can imagine, this is a tough new kind of day for me, and there are many things to do. Dan is going to be cremated, which gives us a window of time to plan. It is important to me that all of you who knew and loved Dan be able to come and participate in his memorial service, so I will keep you updated in the coming week.

Just as many of you have expressed a loss for words, I am also at a loss when it comes to the thanks I want to give you all. You are some amazing people and I hope to see you soon. Susan

Saturday, January 31, 2009

My fingers are shaking and this will have no edits. They have tried everything medicine has but this infection has taken over and although Dan is still fighting and hanging on, he is dying. I use that word because I am already weary of "he's not going to make it" or "he's not doing well". He was so tired and he told the nurses and doctors he just wanted to "go into a coma" if that meant he's get a rest. He is very comfortable and in no pain. They are giving him drugs to keep his blood pressure up, etc., but it won't be long until his body is too taxed.

I will write more later but I want you all to know how much you all mean to us and how we have felt your love and support in every way. I can say my life will never be the same because of having known and been married to Dan. It would not have been as enriched, although my heart is broken because he is leaving us...he is my hero.

He never wanted people to visit him when he felt terrible or wasn't able to enjoy company, so I know it's the right thing to do to let him rest without too many people seeing him in this state (although my mom, his mom, and his brother are here).

He still looks good to me. Much love, and I am sorry for all of us. Susan