Susie, my life-long dearest friend of 60 years, passed away January 15th…
Susie, the little girl with long brown curls and the cutest dimples
Susie, who I spent so many Saturday mornings with watching cartoons with a little coffee in our cream and sugar
Susie, who I played piano duets with for twelve years under the tutelage of Miss Walker
Susie, who I climbed aboard the train with to go to camp in Virginia for four summers
Susie, who I boarded the plane with to go to tennis camp in Pennsylvania
Susie, who I boarded the titanic SS France in NYC to travel Europe for six weeks
Susie, the smartest person I have ever known
Susie, the kindest and most humble person I have ever known
Susie, forever my dearest friend
Susie visited me in May, 2016. I have lived in San Diego throughout my adult life. Susie has lived in Memphis where we grew up. She looked healthy, full of life. Three weeks after she returned to Memphis she called to tell me she had been diagnosed with fourth-stage ovarian cancer. Being a doctor and a professor at a medical school, she said those words matter -a-factly. She proceeded to tell me she was starting chemo. I couldn’t speak; her words weren’t registering, or I simply did not want to believe I was hearing them. Tears welled up, but I did not cry. Suzy would not have wanted that.
In September I spent a week with Susie— going to chemo, drinking coffee, watching Hallmark, laughing over memories. Things were seemingly going in the right direction—tumors were shrinking…of course Susie was going to be just fine…but things did not turn out the way we had hoped, as what often happens in life…Susie called me in December to tell me the tumors had spread rapidly, that there was nothing else the doctors could do. And, in Susie’s manner, she said it matter-a-factly. After a long, frozen pause, we both cried. But no self-pity. Susie’s words were: “Betty Ann, this is not how I would have wanted it, but I have been so blessed—I have John, Will and Amy, you, and all my other friends….”  No more words were necessary.
I flew to Memphis January 8, not knowing how long Susie had; I just wanted to be with her. Hospice had set her up so she was comfortable. Susie and I spent a week lying on her bed holding hands. She was growing weaker, so few words were spoken.Words were not necessary—the touch of the hand said it all.
Susie was coherent up until January 14, the day before she passed. Early the 15th her husband, John, called me that Susie had passed, that she had passed when he woke up. I went over to their home, gave Susie a hug and kiss, and helped John dress her for the morticians to take her away. Again, no words.
How blessed am I to have walked through life with Susie, my life-long dearest friend, and then to walk through the valley of death with her.
God Bless You All