A Cosmic Joke after Trauma

When life becomes a cosmic joke, I’m ready for the punchline.

It’s more than traumatic when someone healthy dies moments after you speak with them. My mind has been flooded with what ifs and the disbelief that anyone could sit down and pass away from a clot. I’m still in shock after almost three weeks.

So what’s the joke?

My husband, Danny, and I returned home to regroup before the funeral. We stepped inside and a steady dripping sound greeted us. Part of the ceiling lay on the floor of the guest bedroom. Water collected in pools on the hickory floors around it.

Remember my demon washing machine story?

This is the guest bedroom on the first floor under the laundry room.

When it rains it pours - a cosmic joke

In a panic, I ran upstairs to the laundry room. Water poured from the cold faucet. Why now? I checked those faucets three times a day for five weeks and they had never shed a drop.

The drain under the washer remained dry. Water ran inside the wall and had collected in the ceiling, which caved in. Then it traveled through the floor to our unfinished basement below.

I ran down the steps. Water sprinkled our kid’s apartment furniture and inconsequential storage containers. My eyes fell on a large rectangular box. It had leaned against the wall since we moved in seventeen years ago. It contained some of my artwork.

“Are you effing kidding me?” I shouted and shook my head. I didn’t need this while planning for my brother’s funeral.

Then I rushed back upstairs, stood in the guest bedroom doorway and laughed.

“When it rains it pours,” I said.

I’m not sure where the pun came from, but in that moment, I was over it. I didn’t care anymore. Life has it’s way of reminding us that it goes on no matter what we’ve been through.

This ridiculous cosmic joke had a huge fringe benefit.

My husband, Danny, called 24/7 Restoration and they arrived in a flurry of able-bodied men. They emptied the guest bedroom as the plumber arrived. Soon a steady thrum of dryers replaced the steady drip.

I stepped back downstairs to check on my artwork. They had cleared the furniture and cleaned up the floor along the wall. Now, drying fans hummed in the empty space.

My artwork lay in its box on top of a table. Opening it, I flipped through portraits, fashion and sports illustrations drawn as advertisements for businesses or to build a portfolio. I had forgotten. It was like a message from beyond from my dad and brother.

Susie Lindau artwork

Long ago, I had given up too easily.

After graduating with a BS in Art from UW-Madison, I found a top advertising agency in Milwaukee and landed an interview through my artistic dad’s connections. I would walk right into my dream job, right?

I remember sitting in a plush office with a view of the city. The president of the company sat at his desk across from me. “Do you have experience in pasteup and layout?”

“No.” I sunk down in my seat.

“Why did you get a four-year degree from the University of Wisconsin when Madison Area Technical College would have taught you these skills in two?”

I didn’t have an answer.

“Our illustrators work their way up from graphic design. I would suggest going back to school.”

Instead, I returned to Madison and continued to work retail. I added a few hours a week as a botanical illustrator and searched for free-lance jobs. This included a day traveling to the Apparel Mart in Chicago where I drew purses then hitchhiked a ride back to Madison in a most peculiar way. I happened to be at work in Botany when I got a call from the VA Hospital, looking for a medical illustrator. Ironically, that’s where I learned pasteup and layout. The rest is history.

A couple of years ago, my screenwriting partner, Erik Wolter, suggested I write a graphic novel. Comic cons are my thing, but I didn’t think I could pull off that kind of illustration. Then I found this.

Girl power

Yeah, I know. I illustrated a few T-shirts for a party back in college. It was a tribute to The Rocky Horror Picture Show and movies like The Warrior. Very punk attire was required. As we used to say in the ’80’s, “The party was too much fun!

Discovery and wonder are pulling me from the depths of grief. No watery pun intended. This was my first step in recovery. There will be more.

Thank you, cosmic joke from beyond.


Have you ever come home from a trip to discover something like this? Do you save your creative projects?

Click for my story about trying to save my brother.

For more wild stories, click here. It’s always a Wild Ride, believe me.


91 thoughts on “A Cosmic Joke after Trauma

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    1. Thanks JT! (((hugs)))
      I think it’s over for the time being. We need to catch our collective breath.
      It’s snowing big time outside. I’m afraid our early spring has been snatched and we’ll have another fruitless year. Dang!


  1. Yes. Very much a wild ride lately. You’re not alone. I’m sorry about your heartache and trouble, but I have a feeling your family is trying to get you back to doing things you love (art); to help you reconnect to your heart, to a passion. Art as creativity and a sort of heart therapy. It can literally save our lives.


  2. If he left his wife in his passing’… create for her those special kindred moments…

    ‘The deluges in our lives Susie, they will come, but our souls Susie’ ‘our souls’ reside within our Quad chambered Heart lanterns. Dim in sorrows they do, but no matter the magnitude’ and great volume of the Deluge(s) our souls never wink out, fade’ nor extinguish, for our hearts may break ‘and oh god do they break’, and at times they do shatter, but our kindred friends and dear babes, our siblings and spouses, our lovers’ our wee pets’ rush in with great compassion and fix our hearts with their immense love’ together leading’ they will not replace with new clear class’ but instead shall her loved ones create great vivid stained glass winders of rich vivid hues in the replacing of broken four quad chambered heart lanterns, and though our back-lit eyes’ (my own eyes they are blue) we again live and love well.

    Our soul light’ will always be.


    1. I love your prose, Brock and agree with you whole-heartedly. We see things differently after a storm. Everything is a little brighter and more magical. I’m ready for that kind of view.


    1. Thanks so much, Maria! It’s been a depressing journey as of late, but there are those moments of hope that linger and shore me up again! It’s getting better day by day.


    1. Thank you. It’s been a shock. Even today, three weeks later, I can’t believe he’s gone. Life is fragile, love intensely and live large. I should make that a meme. 🙂


  3. Oh, Susie. What is it about Boulder? (My kid had the same thing happen while she was applying for med school and was out interviewing – only it was a keg upstairs that was a bit too much for that old house.)
    You said your brother was a jokester…hmmm. (And he always knew you had what it took to accomplish anything)
    HUGS and warm smiles.


    1. Thanks, Phil! He is a jokester. It sure made me laugh. I haven’t cared about the ceiling since. We are about to start on reconstruction. I hope they don’t redo all the floors on the first floor. We’ll have to move out. Nooooo!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Yeesh Susie! This is a lot. But I get it. Sometimes, when the universe decides it’s gonna start shoveling piles of crap and suddenly your shoulders are buried, a few more piles doesn’t feel overwhelming. It’s just too ridiculous NOT to laugh. And for what it’s worth, I think you’ve scared my monsters back into their holes for a while. They can’t keep up with this level of grief (and appliance possession).


  5. Dude. I’m so sorry to hear about the whole water roof thing crashing down on you when you were going through something so painful, but how weird is it that during such grief you found a creative outlet from the past that just landed on your lap? Dude the universe is a trip. I’m so glad that the drawings were saved and man! They are great! I knew you were an artist from your Christmas Card posts, but these are on another level. Definitely Comic Con worthy! Sending you hugs, hope, and light. Buen Camino.


    1. Thanks, Guat! I’ve been thinking about you and your positivity lately. It really is a choice. I’ve been writing about all of this and will post some of it. Crazy stuff. The thing about the bad stuff is it builds character. It’s been coming all at once, so I hope it’s over for a long time.
      I hadn’t remembered some of the work, so it really was fun to go through. Yep, writing a comic and a graphic novel might be fun some day! Comics are another thing my brother drew. Found some when we went through his stuff. Amazing. We could have worked together.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Dude how amazing it would have been to have collaborated together! You can totally still do that whenever you’re up for it. I totally have faith in your skills 🙂 Sending you much love and light.


  6. Whoever said when it rains it pours! was either God’s sidekick or the Big Fellow himself. I didn’t know you are an artist too apart from being a poet and a creative writer, and a wild rider.


    1. I had the last laugh with that one. We start construction this week. GAH! One thing after another, but those frustrations can be dealt with.
      Thanks Uma! Yes, I am a wild riding, creative soul. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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