I’ve never written a strictly personal post. But this… this, calls for it. I have… well, I had… a friend named Suzanne. She passed away this morning, at the age of 40, from Melanoma. I’m so incredibly sad over this loss, and in my grieving today, through bouts of hysterical sobbing, I have tried to remember the happy times. Then as I realized that thinking about them, it made me *almost* smile. With that, I thought I’d share my memories, in hopes it helps bring a *sorta* smile to your faces, all of you out there, who are also so sad over the loss of someone so wonderful. The nice thing about facebook is seeing all her friends, most of whom I don’t know, all sharing and posting pictures of her gorgeous self, and all saying such heart-warming things about her, and how much everyone loved her. It is cathartic.
Last week, I sent her what I knew would be my last correspondance to her. In the card, which I honestly stated “I’m just staring at a blank card, with no idea what I’m supposed to say. If it’s right, or wrong, I don’t know, I just know I love you.” This isn’t verbatim, I’m just loosely recalling what I remember. But most importantly, I told her this, “I promise you, I will do whatever I can, to let people know about Melanoma. I have no idea what that entails right now, but just know I will, to the best of my ability.” So, I’ll start by saying this, if you think for one minute that Suzanne thought she’d get skin cancer, I can assure you, she did not. So, in that same vein, if you think you won’t get skin cancer either, you also might be wrong. So please, wear sunblock. All the time.
My best guess is that we met in 1974, when I was 3 and she was 2. That just seems crazy. Maybe it was the following summer, but none-the-less, still crazy. We spent just about everyday, all summer long together, for our entire childhood. To think that when we both moved into our new houses, right next door to one another, we were so happy that our good friend was now going to be our neighbor, and excited about the endless time we could now spend together, even in the winter. We were 8 and 7 at this point. Suzanne’s little brother, Alec, was 2, and carried a blankie everywhere he went. Just typing that, I am pretty sure that might be the first time I’ve ever referred to him as Alec – he was always Iggy. Cutest nickname ever. Her older brother was Mark, hence making Suzanne the middle child, and was dubbed the princess, for as long as I can recall. It had no negative connotation, like you might associate with that nickname; it was that she was regal and gorgeous, and truly resembled Princess Diana.
As I said, we spent our summers joined at the hip. Like most summers, our families took sailing trips together. One of the most special trips was to Nantucket. I will tell you right now, it is one of the most memorable times in my life. The two crews consisted of, me and my parents, Ed and Elaine on Whimsy, then Suzanne, Mark, Iggy (was Iggy even born yet?) and Suz’s parents, Kathy and Dave, on their boat. We sailed to Nantucket, and spent two weeks over on the rock. I have the most vivid memories from this trip, just etched in my brain – so many fun things we did, so many new experiences – we were quite fortunate to have this kind of experience as children, and I don’t take it for granted, not even for one minute.
So although there are literally a million awesome stories from the trip, like digging for quohogs, and me slicing my toe open on one (okay, so maybe that wasn’t fun, but it was memorable.) Then there was also the day that Suz and I literally sold seashells by the seashore. We both had a pretty good business going, right up until some mean old woman told one of us, that the other one, had much better shells – who does that? We were upset, so we quit the seashell selling business for good. Anyway, this is my favorite part; our parents rented a car to explore the island. Of course, it was a wood-paneled station wagon, you know, the kind with the pop up seat in the back? Yeah, wicked safe. That’s of course where Suz and I wanted to sit, facing the road behind us. As we’re driving along, heading out to Sisco Beach (another favorite memory from the trip) we noticed that the floor of the wagon, right below our tiny, little feet was rusted out. Legit, it was about to giveway. Of course, in our little blonde heads, our seat would then plumet through the bottom of the car, and our cute little selves would be dragging behind the car. We were little girls, of course this is how we pictured things going down. We tried to explain our dire situation to our parents; “MOM! DAD! WE CAN SEE THE ROAD!!!” To which our parents all replied, “Yes, we know.” They thought we meant, because we were facing backwards, like, yeah, no duh, you can see the road. We were hysterical, picturing our demise at probably 5 & 6 years old, yelling “NO! YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND! WE CAN SEE THE ROAD…. THROUGH THE CAR!” They continued to ignore our pleas. When we got to the beach, and they let us out of our jump seat, they saw the floor of the wagon… um, missing, they said, “Oh my God! You really can see through the bottom of the car!” I can imagine, we were pretty pleased with ourselves to finally have redemption.
I honestly don’t understand why there are literally no pictures of Suzanne and I. My only guess is, as I searched high and low to no avail, is because back in the 70′s, people only had expensive 35mm cameras, and no one brought them on our boating trips, for fear the camera would get ruined. I’ll tell you right now, I’d give anything for someones camera to have been ruined, just to have SOME sort of documentation of this, and the many trips we took together. So, the photographer in me is telling you now, take your camera with you, let it get ruined. Life is precious, and fleeting. Live every moment to it’s fullest (please just with sunblock on.)
Suzanne. My favorite childhood memories all include you. I’m so incredibly saddened by the loss of your sweet self. I have no idea why God is so cruel at times; I know I’m not supposed to understand it. I am so incredibly sorry for what Kathy and Dave, Mark and Margaret, Elenor, Alice, and Miles, and Al and Kathryn have gone through, and have yet to go through, mourning the loss of someone so amazing, and so young. No words can honestly express how much you all have been in my thoughts, all the time, especially how hard it must have been recently; it’s absolutely heart-wrencning. Just know you’ve all been in my thoughts and prayers, probably everyday for a long time now. We all lost a good one; she’s not going to be easily forgotten.
Love you sweet girl, may you finally rest in peace, no longer in pain. I’m going to miss you. xoxoxo
Here we are, at the YC, me, suzanne and another childhood friend, CC. And I cringe at how tan I am in comparison.