My friend Richard was over the other day.  He and his wife Kathy are great friends and have really supported us through Susan’s cancer journey.  They lost their son nine years ago in an awful car accident, and because of that are no strangers to grief.  He told me the other day that their son, Ryan, was absolutely crazy about bananas.  That they couldn’t ever keep enough around the house.  He loved them.  So anytime they saw bananas, especially right after he died, it was this automatic and tangible reminder of Ryan.

I’ve had a lot of those same experiences.  When you come across something, maybe unexpectedly, and it triggers an emotion, or even a feeling of Susan’s presence.  It’s one of the powerful, painful things about all of this.  Sometimes these “bananas” sneak up on me, and I’ll get this strong sense of her.  I love these moments.

Here are a few of the things that have reminded me of her lately:

-homemade country style steak

-any Sugarland song

-watching NCAA basketball

-walking the campus at Chapel Hill

-our 1998 Toyota Sienna

-mowing the grass for the first time this year

-her Life is Good hat


-pink pajamas

If you knew Susan, I’d love to hear the things that have reminded you of her lately.

21 Responses to “Bananas”

  1. Christy Bennett Says:

    Your posts are always a blessing to me. Even though we are walking through different paths of grief-they comfort me. Reminders are sweet blessings-every time I sit in the recliner in our living room-I remember that our sweet Eliza-liked to start kicking around 10 pm. If she didn’t start on time-I would rub my belly and start talking to her. This is our time Eliza-of course at that time I didn’t know she was she-and I called her Henry :). But she would start wiggling around-and I watched in amazement as she responded to me. There are many days when my husband is out of town-I will sleep in the recliner. Sweet sweet memories.

  2. Jason Says:

    When I see your daughter, I see Susan 🙂

  3. Amy Says:

    Hey There: I read your blogs and continue to think how much I would like to be like Susan who was so much like Jesus. She continues to amaze me months after her death – through your writing, of course. I sent one of your blogs to a non-Christian friend today. The one about sounding like a cliche’ – just never know what will make the difference. She is struggling in her marriage and maybe this is the message that will hit home. On another note, I don’t know if you read my post soon after Susan died but it was about my friend (non-believer) reading your blog about Susan’s death and my point was that Susan continues to reach others for Christ even after her death. Well…that friend just asked me if I would help her find a VBS for her boys (my son’s friends). I think that is pretty cool! I am so excited about it. Finally, I wanted to see if you had read the book “Heaven Is for Real”. I am reading it with Quinn right now and I like it, as does he (he’s 7.5). Just wanted you to know how you are reaching people in Colorado. You mention several times in your blog about something good coming from this situation (not in those words) and I think two little boys going to VBS because of your blog is something good – may end up with two more in the Kingdom one day!

  4. Barb Says:

    When I watch Carolina and Tyler Hansborough play, I think of the poster one of my students & I made for Susan to help her remember to be tough like him.

  5. Heather Says:

    Jerel, here are some of my bananas…..
    Her chicken pot pie recipe….I just made it last week and told the kids it was her recipe as we ate dinner. I was tearful as we talked about her as a family that night!
    Watching American Idol. I would always call her to talk about our favorite picks.
    The word “seriously”….every time Nick or I say that word we look at each other thinking of her.
    My monogrammed lunch bag I carry to work every Thursday. She gave it to me for my birthday a couple years ago. Also some adorable stationary she made for me and the kids.
    There are so many more….seems like I see a “banana” everyday!! I miss her so much. Thanks for continuing to blog Jerel. I still looking forward to reading every post!

  6. Jenn Says:

    When ever I see Bailey smile or look into Christophers smile I always see Susan. Bailey has her strength and so tenderhearted.

  7. Kristi Says:

    I have a small stone with “Ps. 18:2” on one side and “grow” on the other side. Susan gave these out years ago at one of Meck’s women’s retreats. I can vividly picture her standing in front of the group of women, smiling her big smile. She told us to use the stone to remember that God was our rock and foundation. I keep the rock in my nightstand and think of her every time I rub it when times get tough and I need to remember to lean on God.

  8. Robin Says:

    Here are some things that have reminded me of Susan:

    being “snowed in” in January
    daisies at the girl’s birthday parties
    monopoly games
    certain music videos 🙂
    reruns of Friends
    cute stationary
    silly laughter
    Bailey’s comments to Catherine
    specific songs

    I also had a vivid dream recently of her talking to me on the phone. The next day, I received a phone message from a friend that didn’t identify herself right away on the message. It sounded just like Susan and just like something she would have said. That same weekend, the pianist at church played Chris Rice’s Untitled Hymn.

    We miss you!

  9. Kathy Says:

    I opened a kitchen cabinet the other day and my bundt pan fell out…and a particular memory of Susan came flooding back. Shortly after you were married Susan was talking about a recipe that she wanted to try, but it called for a bundt pan and she didn’t have one. I offered to loan her mine. Life continued and we both forgot about the pan. Several years later I needed it and couldn’t find it. I didn’t remember loaning it to Susan and couldn’t figure out where I could have possibly put it. A couple years after that we were helping you move to Charlotte and Susan handed me my bundt pan. She had found it while packing. We had quite a laugh about both of us forgetting it. I held my bundt pan the other day and cried and smiled at the same time…very bittersweet.

    We lost Ryan 9 years ago next week. For the first few years seeing bananas was extremely painful. As the years have passed the pain has been eased with happy memories.

    I don’t know if they eat in heaven. But if they do, maybe Susan and Ryan will share a banana today.

  10. Kathy Says:

    I always think of her when I have a good collection of multicolored Sharpies! She loved those! (and Idol and the van and cute stationary like others said) she’s with us everywhere, thankfully!

  11. Carolyn Says:

    Jerel – Are you crying Happy tears now after reading everyone’s remembrances? I sure am. I didn’t know Susan on a personal basis, and can tell I missed out on one of life’s greatest joys.

  12. Jill Angell Reynolds Says:

    Jerel, I think of Susan when I see guitars. I have great memories of singing with her. I was driving to Raleigh on Saturday for a swim meet and I thought of her as we passed the exit for Chapel Hill. I also remembered a trip she and I took to Krispy Kreme in the wee hours of the night. I have lost 3 friends from college and it’s always a bittersweet trip to return to campus.

  13. Jenni Says:

    I have already shared a lot of my great memories… but here’s a couple more. Back in the day Susan wore pearls with everything – pearls make me think of her. I also loved how she drew a smiley face with a tongue sticking out….. And, I agree with others……Bailey – everything about Bailey makes me think of Susan.

    • Susan McKnight Says:

      jenni – I just emailed Jerel about 3 weeks ago, telling him I had worn my pEARLS all day that day, and had thought of Susan ALL DAY! She loved those things – even wore them w/ her tshirts!! WOW. There’s something every day that makes me think of her…especially with the picture I have on my dresser of she and I at our Senior Follies night dressed in our goofy red, white, and blue shirts ready to play the piano!

  14. Carey Says:

    the song Friend of God has always brought Susan to mind …and now I cry whenever I hear it… also love the stationary I have that Susan made and of course, chocolate chip pie ; )

  15. Dana Says:

    Les Mis Concert on PBS – that was a BUNCH of bananas!
    “Fun” Napkins
    Nike Workout Pants
    Mac Eyeshadow – Painterly
    Angry Birds
    Just to name a few……

  16. Katie Robinson Says:

    The song “Watershed” by indigo girls, because she and Sunny used to sing that all the time in harmony when I first met them. Also, when I read the words “I’m serious”, I always think of Susan. Also, this sounds weird, but thawing chicken! Way back when you guys were early in starting the new church, we were talking about you guys having people over for dinner a lot, and sometimes the number would change at the last minute, and she just calmly said that she would just take out more chicken from the freezer to thaw, no big deal! I love that! Reminds me to trust the Lord with who He brings into our life and our home…I’m serious.

  17. Katie Robinson Says:

    Oh, Bill just added that when he sees someone writing upside down – I mean fully writing in perfect cursive with the words facing you instead of her — he thinks of Susan. (Not sure if this is actually a “banana”, as he has never actually seen anyone else do it besides Susan:)

  18. Holly Wilder Says:

    Susan was so creative. She made this little Christmas book where she posted a picture and small re-cap of what happened on Christmas each year. I LOVED looking at it and seeing all your Christmas’s so Heather and I copied her and now we both have a Christmas book. I love mine and I think of Susan when I see it. I hope you keep your Christmas book going so your kids will have it to look at too!

  19. wendy rusk Says:

    Two things:
    Every time I see Bailey’s face, I see Susan.

    I gave Susan a silver bracelet with scripture on it and I have the same one…every time I wear it, I think of her.

  20. Mitch & Mary McCune Says:

    I don’t know if she ever told you that I made “turtle bars” for a teacher appreciation event her and Christy put together. She liked them so much she asked me for the recipe–I think she may have made them for you guys. I was so embarrassed to tell her that it was Betty Crocker’s recipe and not mine (cooking isn’t mine thing but I can follow directions on the back of a box). I can’t find the turtle bars anymore but I keep looking. Every time I go to the grocery store I look, hoping to find them and I ALWAYS think of Susan.

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