Sunday, May 6, 2012

Sue and Lisa

            I would like to donate my voice today to Lisa’s best friend Sue Austin.  Miss Sue who lived in New York while we were in Chicago and then hearing the news of Lisa’s cancer, offered to stay with us for a few weeks to help with the kids – being a computer programmer, had the luxury of working from anywhere.  Lisa’s cancer was spreading fast and Sue stayed all the way until she passed.  She stayed in the house a full year after to help me with the kids.

            Lisa called Sue her “soul mate”, and not in a way that bothered me.  I’m the first to admit I’m not able to spend hours on the phone like those two did.  I could try, heck, I can talk about men with the best of them, but after about three minutes I’d try to change the topic to baseball.  Sue and Lisa could talk about the insensitivity of men for hours.  I was thrilled Lisa had someone in her life who she could satisfy that outlet.  Sue made my marriage better without even meaning to.

            When Lisa passed, at least I have a word that describes me with all of the crap and sadness that goes along with losing a spouse. Widower.  Not a word I want or take joy in, but I own it and when people hear it, will cause a reaction – for better or worse.

            Sue doesn’t have a word.  She doesn’t get the satisfaction of the full reaction of talking to a stranger and if the topic comes up, pulling out the grief bomb, lighting it and let it explode.

            “Here you go sir, and would you like to upgrade and buy something for your wife?”

            “No, my wife has passed away.”

            “Oh, I am so sorry, let me throw in a couple of sample products to take home.”

            “Here you go young lady, it’s two for one today, like to buy something for a friend?”

            “I actually just lost my best friend to caner.”

            “I’m sorry to hear that, however, the extra coupon can also be used for a pet.”

            Sue doesn’t know I’m writing this post.  She doesn’t complain to me about losing Lisa, doesn’t bemoan how much it hurts, doesn’t ask for a piece of the attention-grief pie to be sent her way. 

            The day I realized Sue’s situation was when Lisa was in hospice.  Lisa was in her room while a bunch of us family members and Sue were out in the gathering area – Rainbow Hospice is set up as a circle, where the rooms are all at the outer wall, with the middle of the circle filled with chairs, tables, and couches for loved ones to gather.  Lisa’s sister and I were talking to the doctor, assessing Lisa’s situation.  We were coming to terms with Lisa dying.  Other family members were on the couches next to us, and we would share with them the news.


            As the doctor spoke, I remember looking past her shoulder and seeing Sue five tables away all by herself working on her computer.  There were family decisions to be made and she gave us the space to discuss.  She too,  was coming to terms with the death of Lisa, but was using computer programming to get through the day.  Like in a comedy Western movie where the hero punches the villain – but is still standing - the hero then blows gently on the villain, causing him to fall over.  If anyone walked over to Sue and blew on her, tears would pour down her face.

              So Miss Sue Austin, today my post is for you.  Even though you stayed in our house for a year, it was such a blur for both of us, I’m not even sure I thanked you for everything you’ve done.  Did I even help talk things out with you while you were there?  I know I would come home from work and you would retire to your bedroom for the night.  We did have one TV show we watched, Arrested Development, that helped get through some of the tough days.

            Having been in the position of people not knowing what to say to me, let me be on the opposing side and express what I’m not sure helps at all.  Sue, I know you lost your best friend.  I am so sorry for your loss.


  1. Beautiful tribute to an amazing friend! Sue, I am sorry for your loss, too.

    "A friend loves at all times." Proverbs 17:17

  2. God bless you Matt and god bless Sue. I hope her heart and soul are healing.... Lisa and Sue were the definition of "best friends" and hopefully may we all experience that level of friendship at least once in our live.

    Peace to both of you - Annie B

  3. Matt,
    I am Sue's sister. I remember the day she left for Illinois to be with Lisa & your family. I was happy that she would be there,but so very sad as to why. I only met Lisa once when we were driving through to N.Y. from AZ. She had such a beautiful smile & welcomed me like I was part of the family. I am so very sorry for your loss. I did not know how strong my sister was until just now reading this. I can not imagine the feeling of losing my best friend. I am so happy that Sue & Lisa had a friendship most people never get to have. Thankfully I do have that kind of friendship. I wish you & the girls love & peace. And to my sister I love you & miss you. I hope you always have peace in your heart.

  4. Bravo!

    P.S. A possible resource for Sue:

  5. Beautiful tribute to Sue. Thanks for sharing Matthew.

  6. I just met you Matt. this is the first I've read your writing that jayme has told me about. I'm not sure I like it yet or not. you're way ahead of me, but with mothers day coming up I am touched by the love that you have for your wife.
    it makes me miss my husband more which is why I'm not sure I like it but I know I have to go there.
    I'm proud to know you because you are embracing it like I don't think I have yet.
    I spent tonight @ yet another benefit, for a friend of mine who has bone cancer. another reason why I don't like reading about this. and a friend of mine,who was @ my benefits lost her husband from cancer just lost her mom to cancer this week.
    anyway please keep writing and I promise I will keep reading.
    your words are very helpful
    prayers, hope,peace & health