Suzanne Michelle Gonzales

September 24, 1983-March 23, 2003

It has been one year…one year since that heartbreaking day when a young life was taken so suddenly…so tragically…the life of a girl I had known since fourth grade…a girl who went trick-or-treating with me…helped with our “Jump-Rope Olympics” in fourth grade…my friend in G.A.T.E….someone who could always make me smile, always make me laugh with her. Suzy was bright, funny, unique…everyone knew who she was…she was extremely talented in so many areas…Suzanne was a truly beautiful person in so many ways; but she did not see what everyone else saw.

The last time I saw her was June 7, 2001…Graduation day. We had a picture taken together, embracing, smiles on our faces…so much to look forward to! We made promises to keep in touch, a promise that we kept for over a year. She was heading to Florida, to pursue meteorology, a dream she had when I first met her…

It was in Mrs. Tranbarger’s class, fourth grade, Jackson Heights Elementary School. She was new to Red Bluff, and we became immediate friends. We were in Gifted and Talented Education together, we attended each other’s birthday parties, and we spent our recess and lunch together in our group of friends. I remember going out to see her new house as it was being built…I remember the amazing view, and how excited she was to have her own bathroom, and the added excitement of being able to decorate it “all by herself.”

She was one of the people who mocked me incessantly for years because I would not kiss Casey Coffman in the sandbox…Casey “asked me out,” and after we had been dating for awhile (who knows how long it really was) he said that in order to be really girl-friend/boy-friend, we had to kiss. He told me to meet him at the sandbox at lunch one day…I took two friends with me to avoid kissing him, Suzy being one of them. They never let me live it down that I would not kiss him.

I will never forget the sandbox…

I will never forget the tether-ball competitions we held in 6th grade…

I will never forget band with her, fourth through seventh grade. She played the alto saxophone…

I will never forget the Geography Bee’s…or our Odyssey of the Mind team…prune juice…

High school did not grant us as many opportunities together, but our friendship was still strong. We had several classes together…I loved to hear her insights, as they were often deep and profound. Whenever we met in the halls, she would stop and say hello…little did I know that I would never get to say goodbye.

It was March 29th, 2003. I was at Huntington Beach with Leslie and Jessica. We had a wonderful day playing football and getting tan; my phone was in the car, and I had a voice message. It was my mom. I called her, and she told me to call her when I got home. Immediately, I knew someone had died. My mind raced to figure out who it was…but I never, ever expected to hear the name Suzanne Gonzales. I called my friends from home to find details, and when I found out it was suicide, I was completely and utterly devastated…shocked…I could barely even cry because I wanted to believe that it was untrue…

Her memorial service that May was filled to capacity, with many, myself included, standing. My pastor of 15 years officiated, which was a great comfort to me. It was a time of laughter and remembrance as we recalled stories and viewed pictures of this precious young woman’s life…so short, someone abruptly taken from us.

I have many regrets…I saw her online several times in the months before her death, but I did not talk with her…I “didn’t have time” to talk to anyone. Oh, how I would make the time today! I was unable to get together with her in Redding the December before she died…the things I would do to make that happen now. What could I have done? Probably nothing…but now I would try! I would have bought a plane ticket for Florida that day had I known what was to become of her…

Today I wear a red ribbon with white polka-dots, just like the one they gave us at her funeral…just like her prom dress…

I miss you, Suzy. You were loved by so many people…we just never let you know…

Story about Suzy in the San Francisco Chronicle

She asked, in her online journal, to have this song played at her funeral…if you know the story behind it, you will see the thick irony…James Taylor wrote this after his friend, Suzanne, committed suicide while he was on tour…it was played at her memorial service, while photos were displayed on the screen.

Fire And Rain

By James Taylor

Just yesterday morning they let me know you were gone

Suzanne the plans they made put an end to you

I walked out this morning and I wrote down this song

I just can’t remember who to send it to

I’ve seen fire and I’ve seen rain

I’ve seen sunny days that I thought would never end

I’ve seen lonely times when I could not find a friend

But I always thought that I’d see you again

Won’t you look down upon me, Jesus

You’ve got to help me make a stand

You’ve just got to see me through another day

My body’s aching and my time is at hand

And I won’t make it any other way

Oh, I’ve seen fire and I’ve seen rain

I’ve seen sunny days that I thought would never end

I’ve seen lonely times when I could not find a friend

But I always thought that I’d see you again

Been walking my mind to an easy time my back turned towards the sun

Lord knows when the cold wind blows it’ll turn your head around

Well, there’s hours of time on the telephone line to talk about things

to come

Sweet dreams and flying machines in pieces on the ground

Oh, I’ve seen fire and I’ve seen rain

I’ve seen sunny days that I thought would never end

I’ve seen lonely times when I could not find a friend

But I always thought that I’d see you, baby, one more time again, now

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