It has been almost a year since my Friend and Cousin, Lolly Susi, passed away. I have wanted to write something meaningful since then, but have not been able to quite put into words what I still feel about this particular loss. I think I need to do it now.
Lolly deserves big words. Multi-Talented.Fabulous. Hilarious. Breathtaking. Inspiring. Brilliant. Perceptive. Complicated. Intuitive. Generous.
We were friends from very early days. Our parents were Cousins, so we played together as young kids. In every birthday photo, Lolly is sitting near me. I have scrapbooks of cards from my childhood….Lolly’s cards are there. We went to the movies, dreamed our dreams, and laughed at the antics of our families together. I really can’t remember a time when we did not know each other.
Lolly had special qualities. She was the kind of person who, while humble and self-effacing, commanded attention when she entered a room. She was so full of Joie de Vivre, that it was contagious. You wanted to be in her presence, because you felt more alive being there. You wanted to elicit a laugh, because there was so much exuberance in her laughter. She made each person feel as if they were the most important and interesting person she had encountered. Her gifts were many, but I am sure all her friends would agree that this ability to connect and really listen to people was extraordinary.
Lolly was destined for a Theater and Film career. She became an Actress, Director, Teacher, Coach, Playwright, and Author. Her accomplishments in her chosen industry are many. Her credits in film and television and theater are lengthy and very impressive. She travelled the globe, worked in Hawaii, and made her home in London.
We connected each time we got together as old friends do: common family stories, common small-town grade school stories, and then, as adults, common Working Women stories. We would always catch up on the personal details of our lives, and laugh outrageously at the madness of it all.
Lolly fought Cancer as a brave Warrior three times. She beat it back twice, and lost the last battle. The way she survived it was always astounding to me. She appreciated everything so much; she was grateful for all that came her way, and never complained or played the suffering patient. I remember her always telling me that she “didn’t want the Party to end”.
In 2000, when I was about to celebrate turning 50, I invited my 9 favorite girlfriends to come to Sanibel Island, where I lived, for a celebration. The 9, being remarkable and successful Women, were all very busy; of these, 3 came to help me celebrate. Lolly came from England, Gail came from Denver, and Donna came from Boston. The three friends had never met one another. My favorite part of the week-long celebration was seeing these three Women that I loved get to know each other; it has always been my dream to have my far-flung pals meet and laugh together. (We could hardly drag Lolly from the gorgeous white sands of Sanibel…she loved the beach!)
Because she was an astute listener, she gave me a lovely birthday gift that week: a journal and a notebook in which to write. I had told her I wanted to write again, and she encouraged me in words and by her thoughtful choice of a present. I believe that if she were here today, she would be reading my blog and sending words of support.
The day before Christmas in 2014, I called her and had a good long chat. She told me how sick she had been, but she was determined to start another round of tests and trials for a cancer miracle drug. She never let me know how really seriously ill she was that day. Knowing her as I did, I think it was her Christmas gift to me: I was able to hang up and be optimistic that she would be cured in the New Year. The last gift. Hope.
The shock of her death came about seven weeks later. It was like a punch to the gut; it actually physically hurt. How could someone with so much incredible Presence be gone?
I miss my Friend. I miss her warmth and charm. I miss the insights, and the laughter. I miss the beauty of her Spirit and the affirmation of her Being. I hear her voice telling me to join the Party and seize the day. And that is how I shall honor her.
Love You, Lolly. xoxo.