We lost one of our own this week. It wasn’t a surprise – rather expected in fact, but it still leaves us with a missing place in our lives where someone is supposed to be. Death is like that. It’s not like when someone moves far away (like New Zealand). Then you know there is still a chance that you might see one another again someday. Death is the final goodbye until we meet in Heaven, if that is what you believe, otherwise it is just over.
Sue was an amazing lady. She had been diagnosed with cancer years ago, but you would never know it. Sue lived every day like it was her last day. She had a wicked sense of humour and twinkle in her eye. She made us laugh and, in her own quiet way, made us live. After my accident Sue created The Gimpy Ladies Club so we could compare our limps. Unfortunately mine got better and her’s got worse.
Thinking back on life and Sue’s part in it, it makes me think about how little we appreciate what we have. We always think that we have time to do whatever we want. Because we, as Western Civilisation Humans, live such long lives compared to just 3 generations back, it is easy to become complacent. It is simple to procrastinate. Tomorrow I’ll do that thing I’ve been wanting to do for so long, but tomorrow never comes. Maybe it was because Sue knew her time was limited that she had such a zest for life. She was often down at the stables doing a variety of things besides grooming and riding. If there was a need, Sue was quick to volunteer. “Sue, we need another rider for the Gymkhana.” “Oh, just let me get my hat and grab Spot. Are we going to be cantering?” Or, “Sue, I need someone to be the Show Secretary. Are you available?” “Well,” says Sue, “I’ve never done it before, but just explain it to me carefully and I will.” Or, “Kimberly, this tack is simply disgusting! What are you doing with it? I, obviously, need to clean it today.” “Okay, Sue. Need any help?” “If I do, I’ll ask.” There was nothing she wasn’t willing to do or try. I really wish I could say that about myself.
What upsets me most of all is that Sue was younger than me by 4 years. While I would dream about what I would do when I was old and grey, Sue was happy to live the day. I won’t say she was the eternal optimist or a Pollyanna. Sue knew what the score was and was happy to have the time she had. She was grateful to battle into her boots (and it was a battle) because she knew that one day she wouldn’t be able to. And she would tell you that honestly. She loved our Thanksgiving Dinners and was surprised to be made part of them. I shall miss her this year at our table. Sue was part of all our celebrations – birthdays, shows, the We Got Through The Month Bonfires. I can’t picture a single one where she wasn’t a part, telling stories, chastising Simon, and living. Suddenly I realise that we have gone 5 months without a Bonfire. Not because we didn’t have anything to burn (really now, this is a stable. We have TONS to burn), but because we just stop celebrating the little victories in the big battle of life. Last time I saw Sue she said it had been too long and that I should “stop slacking and get it organised.” Sadly, our next bonfire/party will be in memory of this wonderful lady.
Yes, this death has hit me hard. But it has given me the boot up the bottom that I needed. I need to live life like Sue did. I need to find a reason to be happy everyday. I need to fight the good fight and not give in. I need to love my friends more. I need to forgive those who irritate me. The Yard has been quiet since the news came on Monday, but I am not sure this is what Sue would have wanted. She was honest with us about what was happening and how she felt. I don’t want to remember her in black and mourning, but a vibrant woman who gave life as good as she got. So for Sue, I’m going to celebrate more, ride a difficult horse and be grateful for the friends and family I have.
In your Sunset, Sue, keep riding.