What I Cherish The Most

What I cherish the most isn’t a ‘what’ but a ‘who;’ the person who I had looked up to and then had lost too early in life. This was my brother, Neil Leist.

Why am I an author?

The answer lies with my brother, Neil Leist.
Neil was a person who lit up a room when he entered. He was 6 feet 2 inches, but it wasn’t his height that drew peoples’ eyes. It was his dynamic personality. Those grey eyes mirrored his brilliant intellect and capacity for greatness. Neil took care of my blind mother until I was old enough to help. He helped raise me when my father wasn’t home but working interminable days and nights driving a taxi.
Flourishing in the business world, Neil traded on the Commodity Exchange until he earned enough money to own a majority stake in a Fortune 500 company. He became the CEO and Chairman of the Board of Directors of American Bakeries. Neil took me along on his ride to stardom as I worked for him on the Commodities Exchange and in his offices on Madison Avenue, New York. I majored in Finance at New York University, preparing to join him. For the first time, life was good.
In the middle of the night, a phone call turned my world dark. Dark as the one in which my mother lived. My brother had been in a car accident in the Hamptons. His red Porsche had hydroplaned on the wet roads. Neil was a skilled driver with quick reflexes; he drove the car off the highway and onto the grass. Luck wasn’t with him that night. The Porsche crashed beneath a truck parked in its path. His brain injury left him in a coma, and he died two years later.
I continued my education and received an M.B.A. in Finance, but high finance lost its appeal. I worked at various investment companies, but I didn’t want to trade or analyze stocks and commodities. My brother and my parents had passed. My daughters were beginning their own lives. Without a focus in my life, I began to write. As an avid reader, I had many stories racing through my mind.
In my first book, The Dead Game, I combine mystery and paranormal. Two guests disappear from a party at a deserted house, leaving the others to fend for their lives from wild animals and traps. Since I end the book with a cliffhanger, I had to write the second book in the series, Prey for The Dead. The residents of the coastal town of Oasis in northern Florida face vampires and hybrids once again. This time, the action takes them to Disney World, where vampires hide at an exclusive club. Yes, I based my story on an actual club at Disney created by Walt Disney. Next week, I will release the third book in the series, The Dead At Heart. Is the series finished? I don’t know yet. I now live my life as a big question mark: no periods or final thoughts, only possibilities.
My life has taken unexpected twists and turns. Memories of my brother follow me across every speed bump. I don’t have him any longer, but I have Neil stored in a special place in my heart. He’s given me the strength and the drive to pursue my dreams. After what he’s accomplished in his brief life, I yearn to create a fraction of the positive memories he’s left for me and those whose lives he has touched.


  1. Barbara July 23, 2015 / 10:47 pm

    Thank you for sharing memories of your beloved brother.
    I am so sorry for your loss. Sharing your heart with us
    Is brave. Your story is so indpiring!


    • Susanne Leist July 23, 2015 / 10:56 pm

      Thank you. I couldn’t think of an object to cherish that didn’t have some connection to my brother.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Susanne Leist July 25, 2015 / 9:34 pm

      Thank you. It feels like opening an old wound that never fully healed. Maybe it will begin to heal now after 30 years.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Barbara July 26, 2015 / 2:56 am

        Writing is a way to heal and find wholeness by releasing creative energy. I am hoping by writing and sharing that you have much support and love from your writing friends. Thank you for having the courage to share your heart.xoxox


  2. Yvonne July 24, 2015 / 3:17 am

    He was a good role model for you, I think. What a shame his life was snuffed out all too soon.


  3. Peter Nena July 24, 2015 / 8:03 am

    Hi. I read with deep sympathy what happened to your cherished brother. I have had a similar experience myself. So I felt it. I’m sorry.
    Thank you for participating in the #Cherished blogfest. Have a great weekend.


    • Susanne Leist July 25, 2015 / 9:33 pm

      I’m sorry you had to go through a bad loss such as mine. People say that God is testing us. And I say that I don’t want any more tests. So I wish no more tests for us.


  4. Jane Risdon July 24, 2015 / 12:38 pm

    Such a sad story and experience you have been through. I am so sorry for your losses (brother and parents) but happy to know you are a survivor and you will go on and succeed. You are inspirational. Wishing you great happiness and success in all you do. 🙂


    • Susanne Leist July 25, 2015 / 9:31 pm

      Thank you. I am survivor because I had no choice. I had to go on. What we do with our time makes us inspirational. I have long while to go before I could acquire such a lofty title.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Jane Risdon July 26, 2015 / 4:27 am

        Susanne, it is how we face things and how we decide what to do next, which makes us who we are. As my gran used to tell me when I was little: ‘two prisoners looked through prison bars; one saw mud, the other saw stars.’ 🙂


  5. C.E.Robinson July 24, 2015 / 8:30 pm

    Susanne, what a heart-warming, heart wrenching story. Your sadness and suffering through the loss of your brother and your parents, and your journey in life! What triumphs is your writing and your family. Hold onto that! Look forward to reading more on your blog site. Christine


  6. Angelika Schwarz July 25, 2015 / 12:55 am

    Cherished is a wonderful word when describing one that we hold in our heart. How blessed you are to have had a brother like Neil.


    • Susanne Leist July 25, 2015 / 9:37 pm

      He was special in so many ways. Thank you for mentioning his name. It feels good to hear his name after so many years.


  7. Marje @ Kyrosmagica July 25, 2015 / 5:03 am

    A very touching and personal story, thank you for sharing it with us on the Cherished Blogfest. So sorry to hear you lost your brother in such tragic circumstances. I too have an older brother and I can’t imagine what life would be like without him. He is a very special person. I have never heard him say a bad word about anybody.


    • Susanne Leist July 25, 2015 / 9:36 pm

      An older brother is precious. He’s like a father and a friend at the same time. Enjoy him!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Marje @ Kyrosmagica July 26, 2015 / 3:23 am

        Thank you Susanne. I will, shall be seeing him in August when I’m up in Edinburgh. 🙂


  8. saymber July 25, 2015 / 10:43 am

    It was great to read something so personal from you and it gives a great insight to where your path has lead you — to one of the most therapeutic tools to cope with grief I’ve found — writing. I’m most certain he would be so proud of you! As you already know, our loved ones are never truly far away. They live on in us.


    • Susanne Leist July 25, 2015 / 9:30 pm

      Thank you. I don’t usually write about myself. I try to create stories of escapism. It took many years for me even to talk about it. Now that I’ve turned writing I might be able to express some of my deep thoughts.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. laughtermedicineforthesoul July 25, 2015 / 1:39 pm

    Thank you for sharing this heartfelt story with us. I have one brother I cherished dearly who disappeared, he was my best and favorite brother. So I can sympathize with your loss.
    I will look for your book, it sound very interesting even thrilling. I love the fact it took place in Florida, where I live.
    Thank you for visiting my blog and reading my post.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. inesephoto July 25, 2015 / 4:42 pm

    That is a beautiful tribute, Susanne. So sorry that your brother’s life was cut short so early. Your life would be different if he lived, but look, you managed on your own, and he is very proud of his little sister. Thank you for sharing this story.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Susanne Leist July 25, 2015 / 9:27 pm

      Thank you for your kind words. I hope he is proud of me. I know he’s up there watching over me.

      Liked by 1 person

      • inesephoto July 26, 2015 / 12:12 pm

        Of course he is. No doubts on that.
        Started reading your book 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  11. Russell J. Fellows July 25, 2015 / 10:15 pm

    He sounded like a great guy. I’m sorry you lost him so early. It’s good that you still hold his memory so strongly. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Susanne Leist July 25, 2015 / 10:35 pm

      Thank you. Some days I’m afraid that I won’t be able to see his face in my mind. But I always do. I just wish my husband and daughters had met him.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Russell J. Fellows July 25, 2015 / 10:44 pm

        Continue to tell his stories, even little ones, and he’ll remain vivid in your mind and for those who’ve not met him. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  12. pathbreakingwriter July 26, 2015 / 3:17 am

    I am so sorry for your loss, but I also appreciate that you have paid tribute to him in a different way. Thank you for participating.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. agmoye July 26, 2015 / 2:29 pm

    The tragic loss of someone that means the world to you and was your role model is sad. A great tribute to him.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Susanne Leist July 26, 2015 / 2:31 pm

    Thank you. He would have been 67 this month. I could only imagine what he could have accomplished.


  15. John W. Howell July 26, 2015 / 9:29 pm

    Thank you for sharing Susanne. Wonderful picture of a better time and I want to thank you for introducing all of us to your brother. I’m sure he would have done much in life.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Susanne Leist July 27, 2015 / 1:11 pm

    I’m sorry to hear that. I hope life is changing for the better for you.


  17. Dan Antion July 29, 2015 / 7:07 am

    I am so sorry to read this story. The sadness of losing your brother followed by the nasty behavior of the very people who could have helped ease your pain. Thanks you for sharing this with us in support of the Cherished blogfest. This is a nice tribute to a wonderful man.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Susanne Leist July 29, 2015 / 12:53 pm

    Thank you. Too bad we had to sue a Fortune 500 company. Some hard years.


  19. Guilie Castillo August 1, 2015 / 12:25 am

    What a gorgeous tribute to your brother, Susanne. You made him come alive for those of us who didn’t know him–and now he’s reached out, through you, to touch more lives. Thank you for that.
    Guilie @ Quiet Laughter

    Liked by 1 person

    • Susanne Leist August 1, 2015 / 11:52 pm

      Thank you. You just brought a tear to my eyes. I’m happy I could make him feel alive again.


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