The Life-Lesson Sue Grafton Shared With Me When She Passed Away

I was sixteen when I was first introduced to Sue Grafton and Kinsey Millhone.  My mother and I were going on a long road trip and rented the audiobooks, A is for Alibi and B is for Burglar, to keep us from going crazy on the road. I loved the storyline instantly. Mid-way throguh the book, Kinsey was my new favorite female heroine. 

When we got home from the road trip, I picked up the next three audiobooks, C-D-E, and walked the track by my house listening to the books. I like to listen to thrillers while walking to keep me going. I have a rule that I can only listen to the book when I'm walking.

When I caught up with the last published letter, I would reread favorites in anticipation of the next installment. I always preordered to get it ASAP. Christmas 2008, my sister gave me a signed copy of T is for Trespassing. I friggin' cried like a baby. Sue Grafton wrote my name! It was the greatest gift of all time. 

I eventually worked up the nerve to go to the signing for, W is for wasted. When my signing group was called to meet Sue, my heart jumped in my throat. I walked through the door of Carmichael's and lost it when I saw her. I was so fangirl-crazy, it was ridiculous. I cried the entire time. (In my defense I was dealing with some gnarly Postpartum Depression. In fact, the hubs was the driving force behind me going, all three of us went to meet Sue. (I wrote about Here.) 

This past August, when I started writing what would become my first official novel, The Devlyn Disguise, I turned to the alphabet series for help, encouragement, scene set-up, character development and anything else I could tap for encouragement. I finished the first draft of the book in November for #NaNoWriMo, and have been editing my ass of since. Two weeks ago, while in edits, I got frustrated, shut off my computer and went to bed, grabbing my copy of, W is for Wasted, off my desk. 

That night, mid-December, I was mystified by Sue's prose. I was in awe of her work and desperate to be like her. I decided that night I had to express my gratitude to her for so many years of inspiration, escape, encouragement and her philanthropy in Louisville, because there's that, too. 

I spent the next week loosely thinking of my thank you, and how I would send it. I didn't want to publish it for the world, because it was personal, and I didn't want it to get muddied by people thinking it was an act to get help with my book or anything shitty.  I wanted, above all, for her to know just how thankful I was for her, her work, and the years of inspiration, on so many different levels, she's afforded me.

Today, December 29, 2017, I was hit with the devastating news, my hearo and idol, Sue Grafton had succumbed to Cancer and passed away. I felt sick. Complete denial. No way I read the News alert correctly. Sue wasn't dead. No. Fucking. Way. Not, yet. She's 77. Amazing. One book away from finishing the Alphabet. Nooooooo. Please. No. 

I immediately went to Sue Grafton's Facebook Page, and found this posted only moments earlier:

I left this comment in between tears and sobs.

While sitting at my desk, devastated, I was also thankful. Thankful, that on the evening of December 19th, when I was once again overwhelmed with the need to send my thank yous, I did. I reached out through Facebook messenger, where Sue and I had talked a few times over the years.

The following is the end of the message I sent Sue Grafton nine days before she passed away. 

One million, zillion, trillion times over, THANK YOU! You are my, Kenneth Millar. I don’t know if you ever got to thank him for his work and inspiration, but I’m so grateful that I’m able to thank you today. Thank you. I pray your holidays are filled with many, many blessings. Looking forward to ZERO! My deepest admiration, April

**Kenneth Millar was her idol and early inspiration**

I am so beyond thankful I ceased the moment and sent my letter of love and gratitude. Sue Grafton died knowing how much she meant to me. I will carry that with me forever. Had I not reached out, I can't imagine how angry I'd be at myself. (Even in her passing, she is profoundly affecting my life. I'm telling you, she was amazing. Read her books!)

Please, share your love, gratitude and compassion with the people important to you, today. Tomorrow is not promised. Make 2018 the year of love, compassion and hope.