My friend Mary

Cathy ZielskeCZ Life160 Comments


My friend and neighbor Mary Crozier-Sauer died on Oct. 27, 2006, following a long battle with melanoma. I wanted to tell you about her, though I am in no way an authority on her entire life but I will tell you what I know, and what I learned this past fall.

I have known Mary and her family for more than 10 years. We are neighbors. We saw each other at the neighborhood rec centers, and at our bi-annual dinners, that include four neighborhood couples or, just in passing on the street or at the bus stop.  She was smart, and funny, and cool, and beautiful. She gave me shit quite frequently for playing up my role as the neighborhood introvert. She coined the term, “cathy sightings” for the times I would actually leave my house and make nice with other neighbors. She once took a photo of me (that was completely staged, mind you) of me, crossing the street, shielding my face with my jacket like a celebrity fending off the paparazzi. As I said, she was funny.

I didn’t know enough about her, though. I realize that now. She was one of those people who was just good. Socially conscious, politically-involved…she worked tirelessly as an advocate for children, and was directly responsible for helping families create new lives through adoption. I didn’t really know that at the time. I just knew she did important work. She was a good, good mother. And a loving and devoted wife.

Years earlier, she had cancer, and had it removed. And moved on with her life. When it came back, the news filtered through the neighborhood…reaching me through a phone call. I was devastated. Me. And what right did I have to be? I wasn’t family. I wasn’t a close friend. I was a neighbor. Just a nice neighbor down the street who kept to myself more than I ought to have. But nevertheless…I was devastated by the news. Because she was just like me.

40 years old. A mother of two. A wife. A sister. A friend. A Democrat. A woman who liked Green Day. Funny. Smart. Beautiful. Passionate.

And I also think, very, very brave. Which is where she and I differed.

I prayed a lot, at night, and during the day. I felt like, if anyone was going to beat this, it would be her. She was one of the good people. You know…the sort that the world needs to keep around. People needed her. End of story.

Time passed, and after some more experimental treatments produced mixed results, she chose a course of chemotherapy. Before she began treatment, she was planning to cut  her hair short, to minimize the shock to her boys, 11 and 14, of seeing their mom lose her hair. She called me up to ask if I would take some shots of her—do a little casual photoshoot on a day when she was feeling like she looking good by all terms, not just as someone fighting cancer, but as the woman she was.

The shots were awesome. She was gorgeous. And funny. And she kept telling me she felt stupid, but she trusted me. But I don’t remember what else we talked about. I know we talked about her treatment. And how she was feeling. But honestly, she wasn’t the complaining sort, and her optimism is the only thing that stands out. That, and how funny she was about looking silly in the shots.

But we did talk about blogging. I told her, “You should do it…if you’re not working, you might just want something different to do, and it doesn’t have to be a blow-by-blow account of chemotherapy.”

So she did. And it wasn’t.

Mary’s blog is called Benvenuto!. Or, “beginnings.” And she used it to write. A little here. A little there. Daily life. Memories of growing up. Random bits. Ordinary pieces. Occasionally, she wrote about cancer. Occasionally. It became a sort of life journal. I thought it was so cool that she was doing it. I knew that once or twice, she  had dabbled in a little Creative Memories scrapbooking, but that she wasn’t the scrapbooking type necessarily. And yet, by blogging, she found a simple way to record…time. And memory.

I loved that she signed off most entries with… “more later…”  It still makes me smile, because I believe that is always going to be true.

Life went on throughout the summer. And into fall. I didn’t see her as much. But I don’t always get out. It’s that neighborhood introvert thing at work. We had talked about getting together for coffee. To this day, I don’t know why I never stepped out, and made the effort…made the date. Just to hang out. Maybe it was partly out of fear. Fear of not saying the right thing. Fear of seeing someone just like me in the fight of her life. I’m ashamed, actually, to say that. But I’m certain there was a part of that at work.

In September, the four neighborhood couples got together for one of our annual dinners. It felt normal. And good. We were all there. Mary, as it turned out, had not lost all her hair. I thought she looked really good with short hair. It was her. Totally. We ate. We talked. 8 adults doing what they do. That sort of thing. But that was the last time I talked to Mary. The last time.

When she went into the hospital, I thought she’d be okay. When you’re a neighbor, on the periphery, you think like that. You hope and pray like that.

Mary died early on the morning of Oct. 27, 2006, surrounded by her family and closest friends, at home, enveloped by immeasurable love. At peace. Her husband, Jon, shared the story with me later on that day, in his kitchen, in their home. I felt it was almost a gift to be included there. In fact, I’m certain that it was.

In the two days that followed, I pulled down every entry and photo from her blog, and compiled a document to give to her family. One copy turned into six copies, and then into six more copies. For brothers. And sisters. It was a complete and total privilege to be able to give them that. I felt honored to be included in the very early stages of their grieving.

One of the photos I took of her from that early spring day sat near her casket. That was a photo I never planned would be part of this process. Never. And yet there she was, in that photo. Beautiful. Radiant. Hoping she didn’t look dumb.

This seems pale to say that during this process, I learned the value of recording a bit of your life. But I saw how  her words meant and mean so much to her family and friends. It spoke to me so, so deeply. The value of recording stuff about you, and your perspective on this spinning world.

At the funeral, one of Mary’s eulogist’s read this well-known quote by Marianne Williamson:

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

I don’t really remember crying like that before in my life.

I know. What right did I have? I was just an observer, really. Someone on the outside. A neighbor. But then again, she was me. She is me. And the quote reminded me to not be afraid to be…brilliant, in every way that I could possibly be.

I just wanted to write about this amazing woman that lived on my street and affected so very many lives in so many incredible ways. And how she’s changed my view of the world indefinitely.

And to Jon and the boys and Mary’s family…our love and support. We cannot rightfully imagine, but we are here. And thanks for letting us be a part of your lives.

Cathy ZielskeMy friend Mary

160 Comments on “My friend Mary”

  1. #2

    damn you are good.

    this is brilliant. not just the writing, but the lesson you learned (and we all should learn) and the quote and your act of generosity with printing out her blog. and your friend mary…i am grateful you shared her story with me.

    totally brilliant.

    thank you.

  2. #3

    This is beautiful Cathy.
    Thank you for the reminders.
    The reminder that life is short.
    Life is precious.
    The reminder that our words ARE important and precious to leave for our families.
    The reminder that nothing should be taken for granted.
    Thanks! GREAT to have you back!!!
    God Bless Mary’s family.

  3. #4

    thank you for your writing, you inspire me. Mostly, when I read what you write I feel like ‘I get it’; you have the gift of speaking directly to the heart, and of doing it with a poetic grace.
    Many many times, I just love how you make me laugh. This time, I love how you made me feel.

  4. #5

    Thank goodness for Mary, that she had you to turn to. Someone that would not judge her and allow her to be. Friends, even those that are of the introverted type are priceless. Her story, your story are all reminders that we need to live and record a piece of life as we go. I laugh as I think, my poor children will have to go through all of my stuff one day. But as they cuss me out for keeping a little bit of everything, my story will unfold as will the memories.

  5. #6
    Susan Gilman


    Second…thank you for sharing this story…you inspire me. What a lovely gift you gave your friend’s family – beautiful photos and her story in her own words. That is why we scrapbook, no?

    So glad you are back!

  6. #7

    Wow–thanks for sharing. Life is so short, we cannot take it for granted. I say prayers every day that my family and I stay healthy and safe. You have an amazing gift to share this story so eloquently.

  7. #8

    my friend, you so have a way with words.

    and it sounds to me that Mary had a way with life, even though it didn’t treat her fairly or kindly, she still reveled in it. sopped it up with a biscuit. and danced like no one was watching.

    may we all live that lesson and take it to heart.

  8. #9

    Thank you for writing the personal account of feelings that we all feel when we are presented with the “ordinariness” of some one we know and maybe love fighting a life-threatening illness. I know where you’ve been. I lost a dear friend a few years ago and fought with those same feelings of inadequacy, fear, odds-keeping. I also know that I thought about the “after” and used that to motivate my level of involvement in her treatment and her life. It served me well. I miss her today more than ever, but I am O.K. with how I negotiated her illness and treatment. Is there more I’d like to know about her? Absolutely. What would I give for another week, day, hour? But I do feel that I communicated to her how important she was to me. I loved my friend and she knew it. Now I miss her and I know it.
    Again, thank you for your post. It made me think about her again.

  9. #12
    beth madland

    Hi Cathy:
    This entry is why YOU should blog. It totally moved me. I’ve never replied to a blog entry before — but have been a fan of your writing and scrapbooking for some time. I even took you class at CKU Minneapolis and just couldn’t believe how funny you are. But you are somber and reflective, too. I appreciate both aspects of human behavior. Thanks for blogging again. Thanks for telling us about your neighbor.


  10. #14

    I am humbled. And I am grateful for the privilege of reading your words. You said it all so beautifully and I thank you. I will remember and I will be mindful of my place in the world.

  11. #15
    Michelle in VA

    Thank you so much for sharing. It’s also a reminder of how important it is to share our memories, share our feelings. And how wonderful that her family, especially her children, will have that wonderful gift of her words that you compiled. My mom passed away years ago when I was just 20 and my links to her are the love of crafting she gave me and a collection of letters she had written to me. Words and art – pieces of her.

  12. #17
    Kirstie MacGowan

    I am wiping the tears away from my eyes. What a great quote. So true! How many of us doubt ourselves and don’t live to our full potential when that’s what we should be doing? Gives me something to think about…. I am happy that I am recording my life and my families lives. Leaving a little piece of us behind. Your neighbour sounds like she was a brave woman. There aren’t enough of those in the world.
    Thanks for sharing the story.

    Kirstie 🙂

  13. #18

    You were brave to write about Mary. You were brave to say you questioned your own mortality in light of seeing Mary face her own.
    And are one blessed woman, not only to have known a woman like Mary, but to have realized your good fortune and found a way to bring its gifts into your own daily life.
    Lastly – I missed your words each time I roamed the web, which was pretty every day. The return of your blog is like a gift.
    So – thank you. : )

  14. #19
    melissa deakin

    thank you for sharing this…so powerful.
    i have tears rolling down my face, but in a good way because you shared something so important and i am sure mary is looking down with joy, knowing that through you, she is affecting many.

  15. #23

    So sorry to hear about your friend, Mary. With this entry, you totally captured the feelings I’ve felt so many times in similar situations. Thank you for sharing her story – and thanks for blogging again. Missed you!

  16. #24

    Yesterday I was grateful for getting great music recommendations back via your blog.

    Now I remember why I really read your blog.

    You can never know who needs to hear what you have to say, or who can benefit from your gifts that might not seem big to you. I am sure Mary was so grateful to know someone she could trust to take real photos of her. And I am so grateful to have read Mary’s blog as I prepare to go home and visit my mother who is enduring chemo right now.

    Thank you for taking the time and energy to share this story.

  17. #25

    you rock women! thank you for being the memory keeper that you are! so happy your back to the land of blogging.

  18. #28

    THIS is why we missed you so much while you were gone! THIS is why we love you! Thanks for sharing.

  19. #29

    Your writing is beautiful Cathy- you definitely have a gift for story telling that is just mesmerizing. What a beautiful tribute to your friend you’ve written. 🙂

    I have had to deal with 2 huge blows this year and it’s been a struggle for me as well. My Mom died in April, and my MIL just a few weeks ago, 2 days before Christmas. It was a shock b/c she wasn’t ill like my Mom had been. I kept wishing I had taken more pics of her- with me, with the kids, written down her stories. I regret that now, but I can’t change it. It’s an awakening, for sure, for lack of a better word. Things that used to be so important are mundane now, and I am glad for that. I feel, at age 42 that I’m finally becoming ( against my will at times b/c I would not have asked for it like this) the adult I’m supposed to be b/c of the hardship I’ve been forced to deal with this year. It’s rough, but in a good way.
    I’m glad you got to play such a huge part to help in the family’s grieving. I can tell you from experience that they were probably overwhelmed by your kindness- what a beautiful act. It’s these types of things that are worth more than any flower or card you could have sent them. I love you for that. 🙂


  20. #30

    Wow. I cried today because I had what I thought was just another day in a string of awful days. I cried tonight because you chose to share a powerful story that made me feel that while in wallowing in my own pity party, I’ve been missing out on the brilliance of life – my life, your life, all our lives. Thank you for sharing this, Cathy. It truly moved my heart & soul.

  21. #31


    I cried when you sent this to me and I cried more as I read it again. Mary would be humbled by your words, feelings and by the mear fact that she could do something for you. She loved your friendship and encouragement. Mary was a wonderful, beautiful person who still visits us, teaches us and is part of us.

    -the Jon part of Mary and Jon

  22. #32
    Kris in TX

    wow. You brought me to tears. Thank you so much for sharing Mary with all of us. And melanoma. I had carcinoma removed from my face 2 years ago, and am keeping a close eye. Women of our age, the baby oil and tin foil girls of the 80s, must get checked!

  23. #33
    Kris in TX

    wow. You brought me to tears. Thank you so much for sharing Mary with all of us. And melanoma. I had carcinoma removed from my face 2 years ago, and am keeping a close eye. Women of our age, the baby oil and tin foil girls of the 80s, must get checked!

  24. #34
    Melissa Bailey

    You made me cry. I needed that. I understand that fear. My neighbor who recently moved is battling stage 3 breast cancer. I haven’t called her recently. I need to and I thank you for reminding me. My fear about what to say doesn’t matter. She is still Elizabeth, still a mother, still a wife, still someone who needs compassion, love and support. I thank you more than words can express. And the quote – it is one of my favorites.

  25. #37

    What a lovely thing to share – your take on it as well as the woman Mary was.

    You have a gift – the ability to bring others to tears and to laughter with your words is a true gift. Thanks for sharing it with us.

  26. #38
    Lisa Damrosch

    When my Aunt passed away at 45 it changed me forever.

    At her service I chatted for a brief moment with a woman from the choir that I had only met that morning and who had never heard of my Aunt before that day.

    This woman turned to me with tears in her eyes and said, “What an amazing woman your Aunt must have been to touch people she never met.”

    I said “Yes, she was”

    And she said “Well so are you honey, because it is through you that she has reached me.”

    When I tried to thank her she simply said, “Thank you for sharing her, she won’t be forgotten.” and walked away.

    Thank you Cathy…for sharing Mary and for being a conduit for her to touch so many of us.

  27. #39
    Lisa H.

    Thank you. Having shared a similar experience last spring, I feel. It changed me. As I see it has changed you. Thank you so much for bringing forth perspective so that we all may grow as human beings.

  28. #41
    Heather H.

    Thank you for sharing this story with us. Thank you for sharing you with us.
    Thanks for blogging.

  29. #43

    Thanks Cath, just thanks so much for sharing.

    What you gave to Mary’s family will mean more than you can imagine and will comfort them for many, many years.

  30. #44
    Charlotte Goodluck

    hi–I just learned about your comments re Mary from a group of mainly women taking a web scrapbooking course (over 1000 individuals) at I am also touched by your total acceptance of where she was and is now. Thank you for being so loving to share your intimate feelings with all of us–I always say “we are all related”; you were her sister and now she is in the “beyond” whatever that is…thank you for this gift of learning more about your dear friend. Char

  31. #46
    corinne delis

    well you got me all teary eyed! love the Quote so much since it is so true. Thank you for sharing the story of this amazing woman with us. thank you for sharing life.


  32. #47
    Wendy in MD

    Hugs, Cathy. So many tears…this post hits so close to home.

    I just browsed Mary’s site. I can tell from her writing, photos, and friends’ comments that she was an amazing woman. I’m so sorry for her family’s loss and for yours.

  33. #50

    Like all of the above have said…Thank you. Thank you for this very moving and powerful entry. Thank you for your gift of writing, and thank you for coming back to us with your blog. You have taught so many of us so much with this entry. Thank You.

  34. #51


    Your memoir of your friend has touched me so. I am a 32yr old mother of three girls who just last year completed chemotherapy to kill a rare, agressive cancer. I sometimes sat at home all alone and wondered why my friends didn’t stop, why some of my family didn’t call — and you have answered that for me here. It’s not that we don’t want to, just that we sometimes get caught up in our own lives and forget that there are people who need us, not so much for the shoulder to cry on, but just to let us know we’re human and we’re loved. I don’t mean that negative to you Cathy in any way, I can tell by your thoughts that your neighbor knew she was your friend, you did make a difference in her life and it was noticed. Her family chose YOUR photo to put at the funeral. She must have expressed to them how much she loved those photos for it to be picked. I only hope that when I leave this earth and am called Home, I can be remembered with such love and inspiration. You ROCK!! Blog on!

  35. #52

    What more can I say…all of the previous comments say it all…so I will say thanks!
    Thanks for reminding me that life is unpredictable and this moment is to be treasured where ever this moment finds us…

  36. #53

    Wow…the entire post was beautiful to readyl. Filled with emotion. Tears welled when I read the eulogy quote. We must all shine on, so others will follow…
    Thank you,

  37. #54

    Pls put your hand up on your screen…there {virtual high 5} and BIG BIG squeeze. Seriously SOOOOO good that you’re here.

  38. #55
    ngaire Bartlam

    beautifully written , and a perfect life piece on Mary’s life.

    Love that I learn, and smile, and cry and laugh.. everytime i click on CZ@typepad.


  39. #56

    Cathy, don’t underestimate yourself. You, not a brave woman? I think it was brave to go and collect everything on Mary’s blog and turn it into a most valuable document for her family. It takes courage to do that and a lot of strength.
    Your description of Mary and her ordeal is filled with emotion & empathy and to admit that maybe you fled from things when the going got tough is something most people would not do. You shared it with all those people around the globe and also oblige us to reflect on this. I’d like to thank you very much for that and I hope I’ll remember this valuable lesson in the future.
    You are truly an amazing person!

  40. #57

    Cathy, don’t underestimate yourself. You, not a brave woman? I think it was brave to go and collect everything on Mary’s blog and turn it into a most valuable document for her family. It takes courage to do that and a lot of strength.
    Your description of Mary and her ordeal is filled with emotion & empathy and to admit that maybe you fled from things when the going got tough is something most people would not do. You shared it with all those people around the globe and also oblige us to reflect on this. I’d like to thank you very much for that and I hope I’ll remember this valuable lesson in the future.
    You are truly an amazing person!

  41. #58

    So strange that you should right this today. Today my neighbour of 10 years died of cancer. She was strong till the end. A true trooper.

    Whats amazing, is that I was just thinking how short our lives are, and how we need to make the most of everyday. Stop putting things off, but have a do it now approach.

    Thanks for sharing with us. And again, its so lovely to have you back in the blogging world.

  42. #59

    How dare you make me cry on the morning of my vacation!!! No really, this is the Cathy I missed. The Cathy that, in a few simple words, can remind me that I am a special person and that I do deserve to shine. Thank you so much for sharing that story. Thank you so much for coming back and sharing your insight into life. Thank you for being you. You are the best!!!!

  43. #61

    Thanks for sharing Cathy— I needed that today. I always thought that you’re photography was amazing, so crisp and “real”. Now I see that your writing is the same. Thank you and glad you’re back.

  44. #63

    I’m just crying thinking of, thinking of her and her family. Life is so beautiful, so cruel and always so short.

    This text is brillint, thank you for sharing this with us.

    I’m happy you are back and I wish you a quiet year full of happiness and time to share with your family and friends.

  45. #64

    Wow, its really to early in the morning to be crying like a baby. But in many ways its very theraputic. Thank you so much for introducing me to your friend Mary. she reminds me in many ways of my friend Gail ( ). Its amazing to me the strength that is born in women who fight this terrible thing we call cancer. I recall a prayer meeting we had for Gail. Many of us set around speechless as she went around the room praying for us ( while we cried ), touching each women and man indivicially asking God to give us strength! I have the feeling that Mary was the same way. She would not want you to to feel guilty for the times you weren’t there. She probably only remembers the special moments you were. And I bet you right now she is smiling over the things you have done for her family and friends since her death.

  46. #65
    nancy in ks

    Mary died on Oct. 27. That was my mom’s birthday.

    Mom died on Christmas morning, almost 2 weeks ago.

    Every day, every second, there is great joy …and… intense pain in this world. All at the same time. You can hurt like hell and something can make you smile, all at the same time. A strong person can embrace both. A strong person can admit how hard it is to understand it.

    Cathy, after having several people close to me die, I can tell you that you were way more than a “nice neighbor”.

    (I am glad you are back, because I really missed you.)

  47. #66

    What a great story. A great reminder of taking the time to write, or photograph, or video tape, or record YOUR story, your moments, your thoughts, your life. What a gift.

    Thank you…
    and glad to see you writing again!

  48. #67
    Jessica Hood

    The minute I read that she had a blog I thought what a wonderful gift for her family. To have her optimistic & profound words to go back and read is such a gift. I am so sorry about your loss. And that the world has lost what seems to have been a fabulous woman.

  49. #68
    Christa Williams

    Wow what a powerful story and I know what cancer can do to a family. My Best friend’s father was diagnosed with acute leukemia in Sept2006. It has been hard but it has made me understand that life is to short. We also have adopted a phrase from this

    Prayers for your friend’s family. Now back to shedding a million more tears for my friend and her family.

  50. #69
    Judy in Carefree

    Oh Cathy…the above entry is why you should blog…you have so much to say and so much wonderful insight to share! I cry, but I am inspired to leave something that my family can look at and say “she wants us to know “her”!

  51. #70
    Sesil in Chicago

    Thank you for…
    *sharing such a wonderful story.
    *remembering and honoring a great woman
    *making us stop and reflect on the great people in our own lives.
    *all the inspiration on remembering and passing on the memories and great moments we have as a family and as individuals.
    *blogging again
    and the list can go on and on..


  52. #72

    Thanks for the story about an ordinary woman who didn’t think she was extraordinary, but she was. I’m a pastor and through my work, I’ve met more than my fair share of Marys who have taught me about the value of life, the gift of an ordinary day, and the wonder of life. Thanks for the story and thanks for your honesty.

  53. #74

    There is a reason you were the person to ‘suck me into’ scrapbooking in the first place. I still don’t consider myself a great scrapbooker…or even an avid one. But, I am passionate about telling my stories, my opinions, my beliefs, my hopes, my dreams, my quirks- as you suggest here- for the depth and meaning it will have on those around me when I’m gone.
    WOw. I wish more people would embrace the message you share here through Mary. That EVERY life matters. I have said that the most sad/horrible thing sombody can be referred to as is ‘nondescript’. I am grateful to the scrap community and “leaders” like yourself, who are driving this point home. There is nothing wrong with recording/remembering the ‘ordinary’ moments/days/stories of our lives. They are meaningful simply because they are remembered. Or now missed, by some. I recently commented to someone how I think most of us won’t fully realize the impacts of our lives until after we are gone. (Or those around us see how many lives we have touched.) Mary’s life and death is an example of this fact. I think there is much learning to be done through death/grieving and then through living beyond that. I hope for Mary’s family peace and comfort and joy as they journey through life carrying the love and passion and beauty and memories of their loved one with them. She can touch lives through them. She still matters in this world. Thanks, CZ, for sharing your deep thoughts and emotions with the rest of us. As a self-proclaimed introvert, I applaud your bold message. I’m thrilled to ‘hear your voice’ through your blog again. It has made my morning coffee much sweeter the past few days. So, thanks.

  54. #75

    See, aren’t you glad you started back blogging? Otherwise you couldn’t have shared that very special story with all of us. We can all learn something from Mary, huh? Thanks to you. I’m glad I left you on my favs list, I checked every now and then to see, just maybe, if you had come back. Happy, happy, joy for me. Happy New Year to you and your family.

  55. #76

    Thanks for being so real, so raw, so honest, for touching so many with your story, Marys story. So sorry for the loss, to her family, to you and to all that knew her.
    Thanks for the reminder to never take this life for granted, to take the time, to savor each moment, record it and make a difference.
    Thanks, youll never know the power and impact your words have had.
    Thanks for the gift.

  56. #77

    Wow! What a wonderful entry. Beautiful. Thanks so much for sharing. It reminds me that I need to quit being such an introvert as well. You are AWESOME and giving and I know she was honored to be your friend as well.

  57. #78
    Kathi K

    That was amazing Cathy. Beautiful. Thank you for sharing her story, and yours. The quote you mentioned has been my favorite for years. I used to keep it on my desk and in my car. It’s been in a drawer now for way too long. It’s coming back out today, to be a daily reminder to live. Fully, with love and grace. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

  58. #80

    Wow! Thank you for sharing.
    If you can or want please check this out…and read the entry titled What To Do. There is still something you can do for Mary and her family…if you haven’t found a way yet, this might help you get some direction. I am so glad you are back and letting us read your insight. You truly are beautiful and your words radiate that…fully.

  59. #83
    Lisa Spiegel

    Thank you, Cathy, for coming back to the blogging world and for bringing me to this place of thoughtfulness this Saturday morning…it is a good place to be. A seriously good place. 🙂

  60. #85
    Nancy Peacock

    This comes at such an amazing time for me! My resolution this year is to keep a journal that records written snapshots of my life for my kids. I’m on day 6, and your post has given me that much more resolve to continue on. I lost my Mom just over a year ago, and as I grieve for her my strongest wish is that she had left me something that was written of her past, her dreams, her thoughts etc. I have retained much of our family’s oral history, but there is something so powerful about the written word. I’m sure Mary’s family will be forever grateful that you encouraged her to blog, and that they have her words to comfort them and help them grieve in a healthy way.
    Thanks Cathy, for coming back…
    We missed you a lot!

  61. #86
    Erin C.

    I always love to read the things you write, but this one moment you write here speaks to people on a different level. I love that you are able to be honest and vulnerable and open up to people. This is one of the things that make you a truly amazing person. Both sides of my family have blogs to keep in touch and they have both been pretty quiet with the holidays. I hope you don’t mind if I send them a link to your post, so that they can read and see why it is so important not just to post, but to tell about life… their lives. And then they can see why others lives are important to recollect too. Thank you Cathy. Thanks for being totally you. I’m so glad you’re back!

  62. #87

    Thank you for writing about your friend. My dad died when he was 30 of melanoma and I was 10 at the time. I’m 34 now and I thank God everyday that I made it this far. I feel like I never really knew him because I was a child and I never will know him.
    This is why scrapbooking is so important and with people like you encouraging us to record even the silliest of times with your family. Thank you for sharing your friend with us–she was truly remarkable woman and if you think about it–most people only want to make a difference and she really made a difference with you.

  63. #89

    WoW! incredibly amazing to share such important reminders! it’s just what i’ve been needing – thank YOU! your dear friend would be proud that you wrote so eloquently about her, her life, what she meant to you and others! cheers to you c!

  64. #90

    Cathy, This was beautifully written. You are a very talented writer. I wanted you to know I went to Mary’s blog. What a neat person she was! I also went and bought one the the books she had on her blog about cancer. I recently got a new job as a palliative care nurse and think this book will really help me, my nursing staff and our patients. I also lost my mother to breast cancer when I was 7. I treasure everything I find that has her handwriting or her picture. It is truly important to document our lives, so I recently started a journal in Heidi’s AYTR class and am also considering a blog. Thank you so much Cathy!

  65. #91

    Wow. Not much else to say that hasn’t already been said. The first time I heard that quote was on the movie Akeelah and the Bee. The words are powerful. I’m so glad that you shared Mary’s story with all of us. I am also an introvert and you have encouraged me to reach out to others instead of hiding in my shell. Thank you.

  66. #94

    Thanks you so much for sharing this story. I have a close friend who does not live near me who is fighting cancer right now and it just reminded me of how I need to stay in touch, to be present for her.

    On another more important level you helped me with my word for the year. I have thought of lots of them, but they all seemed to be pieces of the puzzle, not the one word I was looking for. My word is BRILLIANT. It will remind me that I have the right to be the best me that I can be.

    Again, thank you for sharing Mary’s story and thank you for blogging again. This entry just reminds me of why I missed your blog so much while you weren’t blogging. You remind me every day to celebrate that which seems ordinary.

  67. #95

    Thank you for the much needed kick in the pants to get up and get moving and playing and doing and living . . . I’ll get started right after I quit the uncontrolable sobbing. First up–printing out that lovely mantra and mounting it on my wall. Second–living it (much harder.) Now, how will I ever fit all that into one word for Ali?

    I missed you so, Cathy, which is so silly really, but when you stopped I felt like I’d lost a dear friend (I don’t know if that means that you should blog more or if I should find some real flesh-&-blood friends, maybe right here on my block.) At any rate, thank you for coming back.

  68. #100
    Stephanie Carty

    Thank you Cathy…as always you remind us what should be important, even if someone else had to remind you. Thank you for sharing this, and thank you to your friend’s family for letting you.

  69. #102


    Made me cry and laugh and cry a whole lot more. Big fat messy drops that made my eyes red and my nose run…all for someone I didn’t know.

    And after I was all spent, I realized that I was REALLY crying for someone I did know and never grieved. Because I was too busy being strong.

    Thank you

  70. #103

    That was a wonderful memory you shared. My dear neighbor passed away about 18 months ago and I still look across the street and expect to see her smiling face and friendly wave as we each left for work. She did not have a blog or photo shoot to remember her by but I will always have that picture in my mind of Connie and her smile and wave each morning. Thank you.

  71. #104


    Thank you for sharing Mary’s story. Having read some of her blog, I wish that I had known her.

  72. #105

    What a beautiful tribute for a truly beautiful woman. Thank you so much for sharing her story with us.

  73. #107
    sarah t-b

    very brave friend…a lovely story to hear on this overly warm evening in southern vermont… sad but so touching at the same time! thank you

  74. #109
    Amy Coose

    Amazing story, Cathy. I loved reading about Mary, and my prayers are with those who loved her, and miss her. So glad your blog is back, and your stories are able to touch us once again.

  75. #111

    So beautiful and honest, Cathy.

    Unrelated: I noticed the music you’re listening to and was surprised (well, except for the Crowded House). You should also check out Ray LaMontagne (my “new favorite” since his album Trouble was released), Schuyler Fisk (Sissy Spacek’s daughter), Cary Brothers, Sufjan Stevens, Jump Little Children… Ah, I could go on and on! But if you like these, let me know and I’ll share more! 🙂

    Take care. So unbelievably happy to have you back.

  76. #112
    Kristi Smith

    I went and read through Mary’s blog, so touched by it and your words. I love that her blog is still there. The more later . . . made the tears stream down.

  77. #115
    Jennifer C

    I am a mum of two great kids and wife to a sensational man living in Australia. I often find your blog entertaining and relate to your experiences and stories very much. I live so far away, but you bring me happiness and I am so impressed at the way women help each other – even when we don’t know it. What a gift you gave to Mary, and what a gift she gave to you – even if you both didn’t know it.
    Now go listen to some Sufjan Stevens – good music for the soul. x

  78. #116

    Cathy, Cathy, Cathy. Oh, how I have missed your writing. Thank you for being a part of MY life once again. And thank you for sharing Mary’s life with all of us. As everyone else has said, you have touched me deep in my soul.

  79. #117

    Just found out you were back!!! I used to keep checking your address after you left because I hoped you enjoyed the blogging thing more than you were letting on. Selfishly, I’m so glad to know you did miss it! I missed my dose of CathyZ! 🙂

    What a terrific story! Very touching and so everyday it hurts. But that’s what’s so wonderful about how you write. As always, thank you so much for sharing with us.

  80. #120
    Kate O'Connell

    Cathy, I am a neighbor too, one who lives a few blocks away. I, too, last saw Mary in September, and she looked so full of life and energy, so like her very self, which she was. She is still part of the lives of the family she loved because she keeps calling on us, the people on the periphery, to remember her, to remember her family, to use all of our talents as best we can, within our communities even when it may seem easier to do otherwise. I think we are called, especially by Mary’s spirit, to live our lives as fully as we can and with as much love as we can. All those candles that were burning on the front steps at Mary’s birthday can still burn in our hearts as we try to live our lives that way, in her memory, for ourselves, and for the greater good.

  81. #121

    That is such a touching story. Thanks for sharing and it makes me think I need to make sure to write things about myself. I tend to think it dont matter, but after reading this I will make sure to do this for others and my family down the road.Once again thanks for sharing this touching story.

  82. #123
    Susan Wesely

    Thank you Cathy. Not only is Mary inspiring, you are too. I do know how difficult, yet important, it was for you to share this with us. (My SIL lost a battle to cancer and left behind a 2yr old daughter.) There are so many lessons to learn in life and when we can share them with so many other people, it just makes those lessons even more priceless. Mary is someone I will not soon forget.

  83. #124

    I’m sorry but can I tell you again how happy I am to have you back girly!!!! I remember you telling us about her Cath! Love putting a face, a beautiful face, with your words. When are we going to meet for coffee? 🙂

  84. #125
    Kristen Joshi

    Wow, the timing of your post blows me away!! Our community has just lost a mom, 37, to cancer 4 short days ago. She left behind an 8 year old son and 5 year old daughter. I knew her as an acquantaince, not a close friend. I can totally relate to everything you’ve said about how impacted you were in spite of the fact that you weren’t family or a close friend. Thanks for sharing this story!

    And so glad you’re back!!!

  85. #126
    Alicia J

    With 125 comments I’m not sure mine will be read – but it doesn’t much matter.

    Thank you for this story – for showing each of us that daily life is what makes everything fabulous. And mostly thank you for encouraging this lovely woman to write and document her life – for her, her family and her friends…

    p.s. I’m so glad you’re back!

  86. #128
    Kim C

    Cathy, It is great to have you back. Your blog about your neighbor is wonderful. I think neighbors are silent families. They’re always there when you need them. My father passed away in June of 06. I was amazed at how the grapevine travled through the neighborhood and the love that poured from these people. Keep up your blogging. You have talent at writing that needs to be shared with all.


  87. #129
    deb munn

    You have amazing timing.
    I lost my grandfather last Tuesday night.
    This post is exactly what I needed to read right now.
    I’m so glad you’re back!
    Thank you!

  88. #130

    beautiful, beautiful everyone desreves to be remembered in such a dear way…& seriously, so glad you are back, my ‘daily dose’ of blogs file felt toally naked without you…:)

  89. #131
    Lyn Dwyer

    Cathy…..thanks for sharing Mary’s story….it sends such a powerful message around the world… glad to have you back in “blogland”……you write from the heart

  90. #132
    Missy Oesterheld

    I too had a friend die this year of colon cancer. Dawn was only 34 (just three years older than me), and she and I went to college together. I was devastated, and I still think of her often. My mom now is facing tests to determine if she herself has colon cancer, and I can’t help but think the worst, especially in light of Dawn’s ultimate outcome. I wish I had stayed in touch with her more. I wish that I was sure she knew how much I appreciated her friendship and support while we were reaching a life goal of achieving our bachelors degree. But more than anything, I wish she were around to see her little girl Ashley grow up.

  91. #133

    What a beautiful tribute. It is always weird to me (or maybe I just feel selfish?) to feel like I gain something from someone’s death, but each time it happens, I am learning that it is a way to honor that individual; to value their life and pay tribute to them.

    It’s hard to face mortality, either our own or someone else’s. There’s such a fear of the unknown, not being sure how to respond or how best we can help. I think that’s what holds me back from reaching out when I know people need it. But I’m learning, and I try not get to too down on myself about it, because that makes me want to bury my head in the sand even more. I always tell myself, “This is how life works! We learn our lessons, we put them into practice, and we move on.” It would be a waste of a precious life to ignore or forget what we learn in these situations.

    Thanks for the poignant reminder.

  92. #134

    Thank you Cathy–that was beautiful. I was moved to tears by your writing. I lost my mom to cancer 13 years ago, and your words have reminded me of the lesson I learned when she died..

  93. #135
    tina b

    Thanks Cathy for sharing the story of your neighbor, your friend, Mary – it moved me, and gave me more perspective, which along with balance are my words for this year

  94. #136
    Bridgette Crozier

    Thanks so much for this. It was good timing as I have been thinking a lot about my aunt Mary lately and how I feel bad that I never took enough time to show I cared. It’s good to hear about her from another perspective, and was incredibly moving. Thank you

  95. #137

    Thank you Cathy. As someone who is in mourning, I found Mary’s story lovely.

    I just read this in a book called “Healing After Loss…Daily Meditations for Working through Grief”

    It is the nature of grace to fill spaces that have been empty. –Goethe
    “Not that we can’t tell the difference. Not that we are being disloyal. But if life gives us something else to do with all those impulses toward the one no longer with us, how can we not be grateful? It’s like an extra inheritance-a blessing, even-from the one we have lost, going to someone else who needs what we have to give. So we are refreshed by the memory of the loved one, and at the same time offering a gift, creating a new relationship.

    I think you just did that with this blog.

  96. #138
    Carla Cavellucci Landi

    Tks for being again in the blogspace, I was missing you here.
    God bless Mary´s family, and friends and neighbors.
    God bless you to give her the opportunity to let herself speak… and shine forever.
    Tks for sharing.
    Happy 2007, happy life!

  97. #141

    Thank you Cathy for this post. I just wanted to let you know how much your post touched my soul. Thanks for the gentle reminder. We should all be so lucky as to leave a legacy of love such as the one your friend left. A life well lived. And well loved. A life that will affect others, even if we never share a word with them. A life that will influence other people, even in a small way to share and to love. That is what Mary has just done. God bless her soul. And yours.

  98. #142
    Kathleen Joseph


    Thank you for sharing this story with us! I am feeling more than I am able to say at the moment, but…Thank You!

  99. #143
    Sandra Coward

    Thank you, and thank you again for sharing Mary’s story. For showing me it is time to wake up, get over it, stop wasting time and begin living again. Just what I needed…

  100. #144

    Thank you for sharing this. I am crying, having just read it. It makes me want to start blogging, as another way to preserve my thoughts and feelings. I appreciate your insight.


  101. #145

    My 33 yr old brother died of lung cancer last August and also blogged about his journey. It is beautiful and inspiring. I’ve been trying to figure out the best way to produce a book of the entries along with the photos he posted for my family. I would appreciate it if you could tell me how you did the one for Mary’s family. Thanks for sharing this part of your life.

  102. #146

    Thank you for remembering Mary. Mary’s older sister was my college roommate and I became friends with the entire crazy Crozier clan. I was stunned when I heard about Mary’s death. I couldn’t imagine her beautiful smile being lost to us forever. I looked for her obituary and read it. It seemed so inadequate. And then I read your tribute. Thank you for capturing her spirit and for sharing your feelings about Mary. I could hear her speaking through your writing and it made me feel so much better. She was lucky to have you for a neighbor. We should all be blessed with such caring neighbors.

  103. #147

    Thanks for writing this about my mom, i don’t know why i all the sudden feel the need to see pictures of her and read thing about her, but his really helped. I know she would’ve loved this.

    -Her son Michael

  104. #148

    Just look at the above photo of Victoria’ s Secret model Selita Ebanks! She’ s adorned in over 4. 5 million dollars worth of diamonds, rubies, emeralds, and yellow sapphires. This year, the Fantasy Bra (more photos and video below) from Victoria’ s Secret now includes a full gift set- thong, garter, cuff bracelet and matching barrette. The set will be featured in the new Victoria’ s Secret holiday catalog- available Friday, which means scores of men will be waiting by their mailbox to get their hands on it. …

  105. #149

    (not sure how I navigated to this post today, but there must be a reason …)
    I remember reading this post some time last year and it made me cry then. A year ago a friend of mine was diagnosed with breast cancer, but now is doing well. We lost a dear friend suddenly last December, then two months later my husband passed away in an avalanche. This post takes on new meaning to me today.
    Thank you so much for sharing this. I love the way you express yourself through writing. You put into words on paper (screen) what I can’t seem to get out of my head.
    I’m in a scrapping slump. A creative slump. Simply a slump. Can’t seem to get back to enjoying the simple things in life. Reading this reminded me why I have no choice. Life does go on. And regardless of how I “deal”, life is worth living.
    Thanks Cathy.

  106. #150

    Im so very sorry for your loss. I cannot imagine.

    I myself am having a relatively blue Sunday. Maybe I was supposed to read this.

    Peace to you.

  107. #151
    Michael S

    Thank you so much for this, whenever I feel sad that she’s gone I read this and remember how special of a person she was.

  108. #153

    I just read today’s blog post…7/15/14 and your mention of Mary brought me to this post. Thank you. I went to the service as a friend of her sister. But I, too, cried so hard. I didn’t know her well, but as you so beautifully put it she was you/me/all of us. A young mother, sister, daughter and more. Part of such an amazing family! It had a huge impact on me, but I let that fade over the years. The M. Williamson quote has so much more meaning now in light of coming back to this post. I remember her from high school being brave and spunky, full of laughter and always beautiful. I think of how that must have translated into her life as an adult, a wife, and a mother. I am a woman who hides behind the camera and often fears putting it out there. Your new blog post related to your new site, and this beautiful tribute, have given me much food for thought today…and perhaps now always. Thank you, Cathy. Thank you, Mary.

    1. #153.1
      Cathy Zielske

      Sigh. Yes. I think of Mary often. I really do. I’m glad that a friend of the family was able to see this mention in my post.

  109. #154
    Tammy L

    Hi Cathy,
    Just wanted to let you know how often I come back to this blog when I want to feel Mary’s spirit around me again. I hope you know how beautifully you’ve captured her warmth and spirit -thank you for sharing this amazing gift of yours. I hope you know how many lives it touches when you don’t even realize it. Thank you ! Thank you! I miss Mary every day but this always makes me feel better, closer again to her.

    1. #154.1
      Cathy Zielske

      Hey Tammy, how wonderful to read this. I think about Mary, too. At so many unexpected times. 🙂

  110. #156

    I’m reading this, years after its writing, and after I thought I had been following you forever and read everything you’d ever written. I’m reading this, what I think is your most beautiful writing and insight -and that is saying something when I feel even your silly randomness always brings a moment of clarity – in awe. I’m reading this crying and sad and inspired. So beautiful.

  111. #157
    Sheree Kimes

    So it is ten years later. I am reading this and having a good cry. I want to live not only the length of my life, but also it’s width…or something like that is a comment I saw recently. I don’t play small, but never thought I was giving someone else permission to play. WOW! What a lesson.

    1. #157.1
      Cathy Zielske

      Sheree, yes. You may never know how who you are may influence or affect another human being. It’s kind of a beautiful thing. I think about my friend Mary often. I was just talking to her husband a few weeks ago about life and such. She will always inspire me to not play small.

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