Life is a circus, filled with beautiful creatures that feed off unconditional love. But not everyone welcomes the erratic behavior of a chimpanzee, the roar of a lion or the face of a clown.
In fact, most people would rather pay to see the bearded lady than to spend time getting to know her, but not Suzanne.
Suzanne embraced the circus and all of the uniqueness that comes along with it. She was a ringleader to those who felt like vulnerable misfits, inviting us into her fragile heart and warm home where we were spoon-fed sensitivity, love and compassion.
To Suzanne, friendship was everything: a magnificent display of imperfection held together by a single strand. And she carried it with her wherever she went, dangling it like a carrot in hopes that someone would bite.
Suzanne gave of herself what she secretly craved behind her own dark curtain, the same thing we all crave: to be accepted for who we are—quirks and all.
If only she were here to see what was on the other side.
Suzanne never talked much about her past or how she came to be the person that she was. Instead, she got you to talk about yours—at least every 4-6 weeks when you came in for a trim.
And talk we did, about everything under the sun. We talked about our jobs, our families, our dreams and our losses and on those rare occasions, when the tears began to flow, she would gently place her hand on your shoulder and tell you that everything was going to be okay.
But here’s something you may not know: Suzanne also had a wicked sense of humor.
Though she would happily give you the shirt of her back, she would do so knowing you’d never be able to squeeze your fat head through her size zero designer silk blouse.
Truth be told, Suzanne’s “accidental” shenanigans were often choreographed weeks, months or years in advance. It was her way of sneaking in a laugh in at your expense while giggling behind the scenes—and her delivery was impeccable.
Last week, when I returned home after writing her obituary, I asked my boyfriend what he thought.
“Well,” he smirked, “I find it odd that she has three sisters and ONE of them is Lisa D-claire.”
I told him I had no idea what any of their last names were because it never came up.
Again, he rolled his eyes. “Yeah, but Lisa D-claire? Come on…”
“Look,” I said, “Steve sent over a sheet with names on it and I typed them; that’s all I know,” and with that, I jumped into editing mode.
“Oh shit, did I spell it wrong?”
Quickly, I grabbed my phone, pulled up the document and spelled out her name: D… E… capital C… L – A – I – R – E.”
“Exactly,” he sneered. “Perhaps they didn’t know how to spell it?”
“What do you mean? We all proofread it and Amy was sitting right there. I think she would have known if her sister’s name was spelled wrong.”
“Okay,” he signed, “If you say so… I just find it hard to believe that in the thirty years you knew her, Suzanne never once mentioned she had a sister named Lisa DeClaire.”
And then it hit me—like a brick to the face. “OH MY GOD, I can’t believe she did this.”
The beauty of being friends with Suzanne was what lied underneath the surface… the little things she kept to herself, whether unintentionally or completely on purpose, that would catch you off guard and leave you breathless with laughter.
For those that don’t know me, my name is Lisa (pause…) LeClair and, knowing Suzanne, she is up there right now, laughing her ass off over the fact that she never saw the irony.
Even in death, she still makes me smile every day and probably will for life.
Suzanne had a gift. She knew how to break down walls and expose people for who they really were without deflating egos. If anything, she only empowered them.
“Embrace the awkward,” she would smile, “Come as you are.”
Suzanne listened with her heart. She understood that each and every one of us has a story to tell that defines who we are. She also understood that, just like her imaginary strand, none of those stories were real.
You are not worthless. You are not a failure. You are not stupid, ugly or alone. You are You and YOU deserve love: THAT is the story Suzanne wants you to tell.
So, tell it… and believe it 100 percent because it’s true.
Suzanne taught us how to love ourselves and gave us the tools to rise above our insecurities and bestow the same grace toward others. And now, a million hugs, tears and smiles later, THIS is her circus and WE are her monkeys.
In celebration of her life, let’s blow the dust off our fearless leader’s baton; check our egos at the door and dance through the veil curtains we use to mask our pain.
We are all flawed. We are all damaged, and we are all imperfectly perfect. But we are also a part of the greatest show on Earth: “Suzanne’s Hand-Selected, One-of-a-Kind, Amazingly Wonderful Circus.”
Perhaps it’s time to dry our eyes and show her what we’ve learned.