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My Friend Sue: Tuesday, 25 July 2000

by Anna Perri

Those of you whose heart and soul Sue has touched will understand how unique she really was. She inspired and challenged each and every one of us by her zest for life, belief in humanity and her endless fight in the world forum to protect the rights of the most vulnerable.

But there was something more about Sue, something much deeper, more profound, pure and yet so simple. I bore witnessed to the many times she gently stretched out her hand and spiritually held people who were suffering and in emotional pain. She warmly welcomed them into her home and into her heart. A place to sleep, nutritious food and a mandatory listening to her wisdom and insights into living through suffering and pain. Some of us here today are some of those people Sue welcomed into her heart and inspired to grow. At times some of the people she attempted to help were not ready for what Sue had to offer and they hurt her. Sue felt that pain deeply such was her simple belief that all people are good. But this never stopped Sue. She never feared being 'hurt' by others. She would gather her self together and the journey would commence again and she would stretch out her hand with the same passion, trust and faith. And that is where her uniqueness lies, in her unwavering trust and belief in the 'goodness' of all people. Her heart had no boundaries.

 

I have known Sue for many, many years, although we couldn't quite agree on the year we first met. I was fortunate to be intimately involved in Sue's last few weeks of her life and privileged to be part of Sue's journey from this world to the next. I would like to share with you some of those moments, as I promised Sue I would do. Not that she would let me get away with it as she often commanded me to "get a piece of paper and write".

During this last hospitalisation Sue continued her valiant fight for life. Constantly reminding us she knew what her body needed. After all she said "I've taken care of it for 38 years". This puzzled the medical staff as they questioned her acceptance of her inevitable death. The doctors asked me "does Sue understand that she is dying?" They didn't understand Sue. Sue knew that she was going to die but as far as she was concerned she wasn't dying, that was to passive.

Sue was to busy living. For Sue loved life. She savoured every moment of her existence. She truly lived and kept talking, giving advice instructions and pearls of wisdom almost right up to the very end. She lived with every breath. As she often said, "I am alive, and living is wonderful".

When Sue decided that her 'work' was done and she could trust in the belief that we would continue her work she announced to Sue's mother, Irene, and I that it was time, time for her to die. Irene and I sat by her side, holding her hand, telling her stories of past summer holidays, the colour of the sky, the hopes and dreams for the future, of babies and laughter. She would listen and relax, and chastise us if we let go of her hand. She knew what was important.

In between the requests of pineapple juice, pure water and coughing, Sue would talk in soft and breathless whispers. "Remember to tell everyone be proud of who you are, trust in life, trust in the process of life and all will be well".

"I am not leaving you, I will always be with you all, just in a different way". Her spirit was strong, it kept her body and soul alive for 38 years and her spirit still lingers with us today.

At another time she opened her eyes widely and with every ounce of energy she could muster she said, "Anna you know dying isn't difficult. In fact it's rather easy. You will understand when it is your turn. It is beautiful". She then closed her eyes and rested for a moment longer.

With another breath she said "the essence of my existence is love", the essence of my existence is love"

Again another pause, a time to rest. Her final words "Remember Anna",. The solution to the worlds problems is the knowledge and the understanding that we are all interconnected"

" THAT WE ARE ALL INTERCONNECTED". And she repeated this over and over again until I believe that she was sure that I would remember. The solution to the worlds problems is the knowledge and the understanding that we are all interconnected"

Sue then asked to be made comfortable, reminded us to 'hold her' and gently closed her eyes and drifted peacefully from this world to the next. As always with dignity and grace and a cheeky grin.

What mattered most to Sue was family and friends. She called us all "Her community". And that community meant everything to Sue, her circle of life. The essence of Sue's existence is love and she has shown us that we are all interconnected.

Sue was and is my friend. Sue I love you. I love you with all my heart, with the essence of my being. Thank you Sue for your inspiration, for your love and your friendship. Thankyou for all that you have given me, for all that you have taught me, for all that you have done for humanity. Rest now for a while. Though I know that you are still with me, I shall deeply, deeply miss you.