Wednesday, August 18, 2010

My Life With Comic Books: Part # 141

The current cast of characters:
Paul Howley: age 44
Mal Howley: my wife
Adam Howley: my son, age 19
Cassy Howley: my daughter, age 15


We became friends with Art and Suisei Goguen many years ago. Our kids were close in age to their kids and they frequently played together. Eventually the Goguen family moved away to Colorado and began a new life in a beautiful rural area. Mal and Cassy traveled out there to visit them and experienced several new activities including horseback riding up and down mountain ranges. On May 24, 1999, we received a phone call from our long-time friend, Barbara Weatherbee informing us that Art and Suisei Goguen had lost their daughter Arwen to Juvenile Diabetes just one day before she would have turned fifteen years old.

We quickly made arrangements to fly out to Colorado for Arwen’s funeral service. Our son, Adam, wasn’t able to come with us. Several of our other friends wanted to go too, but were unable to get the time off from their jobs. Art’s close friend, Ken Lee, decided to meet us at the Boston airport and travel with us. Together we rented a car and drove to the funeral service, which was held at the church that the Goguen family attended.

The church was filled with people, and it appeared to be mostly young friends of Arwen. Several classmates related emotional stories about how much they loved Arwen and would miss her involvement in their lives. I was saddened by these stories but what struck me the most was watching Arwen’s mother listen to all of these emotional stories. Suisei seemed to be in a trance with the life sucked out of her. We felt so sad for both Suisei and Art. As sad as this service was, it was even sadder when we went back to their home after the church service.

While Suisei did her best to see that everyone was comfortable, I sat and talked with Art. He explained that his job kept him away from home several weeks each month and although he missed his family while he was away, it was a necessary part of his job. He had arranged to be home this particular week because his son, Beren, was graduating from high school and many of his relatives were going to be in town for the ceremony. Art chose to stay at home for a bit longer in order to celebrate Arwen’s fifteenth birthday with the family.

Arwen had been living with diabetes for many years and she was diligent to check her blood-sugar levels often and give herself the required insulin shots. On that day in May, the alarm clock went off in Arwen’s room and when they went into her bedroom to see why she wasn’t shutting it off, Arwen was found unconscious on the floor. While they waited for an ambulance to arrive, Art, trained in CPR, worked to revive his daughter for over thirty minutes but it was too late. It’s assumed that Arwen awoke in the middle of the night and got out of bed to check her blood-sugar level but was unable to administer her medication.

Although Art told me this heartbreaking story in graphic detail, he managed to keep his composure. He must have been a wreck inside. What could be worse than losing your child? I learned how fragile life really could be.

Next Chapter: Adam is offered a great opportunity and the story of the Christian rock-band, “Oxygen.”


  1. No one should ever have to suffer such a loss.

    Unfortunately, I speak from experience.

  2. Thank you for posting this. We knew the Goguens, and Arwen was a 4H friend of my brother's. I now have two children with diabetes, and while technology has come a long way, Arwen still lives in my memory, both as the beautiful girl she was (who hated all the pictures her mom took all the time), but as a reminder to never take this disease for granted. I sure wish Suisei were on Facebook, so I could keep in touch with her. What a strong woman and loving mom.

  3. I agree! Suisei is a wonderful, loving mother and person!
    May I ask how you found my blog chapter about her? Are you going to be reading any more of my blog?