Time’s Up | Susan Murphy Milano Soars with Angels (and Likely Still Kicks Butt)
Yesterday we lost a dear friend, a great soul, and a real hero. Susan Murphy Milano would not want us to say she “lost her battle with cancer.” Instead, I believe, she would want us to say she has gone on to her greater calling, that she has more work to do.
Host of “Time’s Up” on Here Women Talk radio, her time with us was powerful; you only had to listen to one show to know how passionate she was about shedding light on and doing all she could to end intimate partner violence. Her innumerable achievements in the field will perpetually help countless others, many not ever knowing Susan’s impact and contribution to their safety. Always seeking the truth, her no B-S approach to every situation made people sit up and take action. Her sense of humor and candor were much appreciated by her fans and those she helped.
I reached out to Susan’s friend Burl Barer, True Crime author and radio host, to share some insights about Susan. He graciously gave me permission to publish his comments from his personal email to me:
Kay, I never met Susan Murphy Milano in person, but our chemistry was so fiery that we often joked about the inevitability of us “sweeping out the ashes in the morning.” From our very first conversation we became each other’s most ardent admirers and supporters. That doesn’t mean we always agreed on how to frame important issues. I took her to task on her blog more than once, and she slapped me around live on the air in a program I saved under the title “Susan Attacks!”
We were 100% united in our mutual commitment to truth, justice and what in Judaism is termed “Repairing the World.” Neither of us had to be right by making the other wrong. Susan and I both recognized that the secret of always being right is the willingness to be corrected. We also grasped and internalized the two biggest “secrets” – the secret of happiness and the secret of success. The secret of success is a victorious attitude, and the secret of happiness is to live a life that is consistent with what you believe.
Susan lived in complete harmony with her firm and unshakable belief that individuals, couples and families thrive in a violence-free society, and she was fully aware that domestic partner violence was not about men abusing women, but about people abusing people. At a time when many didn’t want to acknowledge the rise in violence against men by women, the high level of domestic partner violence in the LGBT community, the use of false charges of abuse in divorce actions, and the near non-existence of shelters and support for battered men, Susan Murphy Milano never shied away from dealing with the harsh realities. This was because Susan’s vision was not limited by pre-conceived ideas or stereotypes. Her greatest strength perhaps is that she was an outsider — she had been warned and threatened, told to sit down and shut up – but when your mother dies at the hands of your father, and your father takes his own life, there is not much anyone can take from you. Susan was not about to surrender her will or her life to anything other than her own destiny.
The first question I asked her was if the death of her parents was difficult for her to talk about, and she responded that it was not difficult because she felt that everyone is called to something, and it was through this most tragic of events that she was called to stand up, speak out, and most importantly, take action. Susan Murphy Milano consistently proved that there was more to her reputation than an outspoken demeanor and a big head of hair.
I felt honored when Susan gave me a sneak peek at her book manuscript, asked me for some editorial advice, and then contacted me when her book was being prepared for publication. She suggested that we prerecord an interview with her about the book, “just in case” she wasn’t available. It was as if she had made a personal commitment to promote the book, and was not about let something as absurdly inconvenient as being deceased to undermine the book’s success. I told her that I wanted her to have the undeniable thrill of being on the air live and alive, preferably in person here in L.A, and that this would give her something to anticipate. Of course she was advised to bring her curling iron, reasonable expectations, and her most fetching flame retardant outfit. We laughed at our “Bogart/Bacall” verbal interplay, never taking ourselves as seriously as we take our callings. The last time we spoke was when I heard that she was “Stage Four.” She recounted the details with the same demeanor as always — facts devoid of spin, and an unbeatable attitude of ongoing curiosity as to how this latest adventure would play out against the backdrop of her relentless attitude of service.
And here is where we come to the inevitable moral of the story. Every person is called to one station, and one station only — service. When we seek to elevate ourselves above others, we become humiliated. Consider the difference between being atop a mountain, and residing in a valley. When you place yourself in the valley of service, everything flows to you. Attempt to place yourself above others, and you distance yourself from blessings. Susan Murphy Milano performed the most powerful of all prayers: deeds of service.
There is a quote from the Sacred Scriptures of the Baha’i Faith that reminds me of Susan: “… possess a good character, an enlightened nature, a pure intent, as well as intellectual power, brilliance and discernment, intuition, discretion and foresight, temperance, reverence, and a heartfelt fear of God. For an unlit candle, however great in diameter and tall, is no better than a barren palm tree or a pile of dead wood.” Behold the lesson of the candle — it weeps away its life giving light. What greater blessing is there than to dispel the darkness of injustice, to free the oppressed, rescue the downtrodden, uplift those who have been laid low, and welcome those who have been unwelcome, giving hope when all hope was lost?
Susan’s influence and service will not be diminished by her lack of physical presence. Freed from the constraints of this physical world, her sphere of servitude and inspiration is now of a dimension we can never rightly discern. Her true beauty was not in that head of hair, lovely as it was, but in the flowing beauty of her inner-most heart of hearts. Although I must admit, she was hotter than a two dollar curling iron.
(Abdu’l-Baha, The Secret of Divine Civilization, p. 33)
Susan’s close friend and sidekick Delilah will share a memorial announcement via Susan’s blog, ConqueringCancer.me.
I can’t begin to say enough what an honor it was to have Susan Murphy Milano, “the Jane Wayne of Justice,” a part of the Here Women Talk network, to have her and Delilah come into the studio every week, fight crime and corruption, and stand up as a voice for those who are silenced in a world of intimidation and violence. As Deliliah wrote, “Susan’s work lives on in each and every victim of violence that she figured out how to save, it goes on through each case she offered her expertise that got the attention it needed to make progress, she lives on through each friend who touched her life and to whom she gave so freely. Although her shoes can never be filled, her work will continue.”
Indeed, there will never be another Susan Murphy Milano.