Live a Life Worth Loving

When No One Wanted to Be My Friend

Perspective is everything & I now see things from that time of my life much differently.

Perspective is everything & now, I gratefully see things from that time of my life much differently.

At the age of 29, I married my husband Al, who was a widower.  His first wife, Jane, died of breast cancer. She left behind four children, a loving extended family and an entire town of friends. Helplessly, hopelessly in love with Al, the kids, and with only a slight tolerance for the dog, I jumped into the marriage with both feet. Believing it was the best move for the kids to not be uprooted after the trauma they had already endured, I sold my home and moved into a log house the small mountain community of Midway, Utah that Al and Jane had called home. I really believed that I could come into this charming village, give up my career, throw myself into a life of service, and be a stay-at-home-mom.  I also believed that, in turn, the community and friends of the family would open their arms up and accept me. I was hoping that, through them, I could learn about Jane: Jane the wife — Jane the mother of my children — Jane the girlfriend.  I decided I’d throw myself into this new adventure and learn to call it home.

Love can be so blind.

After a year of the most difficult time of my life, overwhelmed with kids, cooking, cleaning and all the thankless tasks that fall under the heading of motherhood, I was desperately lonely. I’m a girlfriend kind of girl. I love having friends in my life and I had always been blessed to have an abundance of them. But no matter how I tried, I couldn’t make friends. Determined to pull myself up by my bootstraps, I tried everything. Despite the fact that I was active in the community, church and civic activities, out of some misplaced sense of loyalty to Jane, no one wanted to be my friend. They were happy to let me work behind the scenes on projects, volunteer at the school lunch room and make bread for the bake sale, but no one would accept my lunch invitations, no one invited me to baby showers and no one thought to include Al and I in their social activities. Being the positive, outgoing person I have always been, I kept trying… reaching out as if life was normal but no one heard my heartfelt pleas for friendship that I so desperately needed. I cried a lot.

I was beginning to think that all of Jane’s friends were the most horrible people God ever created. In my pain, I didn’t realize that almost everyone was still grieving the loss of their dear friend, Jane, and I was a constant reminder that she was gone.

Everyone, except one.

Judy and Jane had been very close, dear friends for over 15 years in Texas. Their friendship bonded them together through some of the toughest times in their lives. Judy, a fiery redhead with a personality to match, had flown to Jane’s side during the last month of her life. They were very, very close.

One day, about a year in to my marriage, I got a phone call from Judy. At this point I had only met her and her husband Tim once, very, very briefly. When she called, she sounded weak; ill. “Suzy, I need you” was all she said.

Me? She needed me? Why would she want me when none Jane’s friend’s wanted anything to do with me? But before I could utter a sound, she turned the phone over to her husband who filled in the details.

Judy had just had cosmetic surgery, a face lift. All had gone well when she suddenly she took a turn for the worse and complications set in, the kind that only happen to one in a million patients. Judy developed a blood clot, an infection and a trip to the emergency room.  Now out of critical care, Judy was finally home.  Emotionally, physically and mentally spent, she needed a friend – but her best friend was dead.

“Look Suzy” Tim said, “Judy’s feeling pretty low. On top of all the medical issues, she’s feeling guilty over having had this elective surgery to begin with. She is home now, stable and on her way to recovery. But I have a business trip to Europe for the next 8 days. I don’t feel good about leaving her alone. All she’s been saying is she wants Jane.  Then last night she said, ‘Call Suzy’.  I know you don’t know her well, but will you come?”

Without missing a beat, I said “Yes.”

The next morning I was boarding a flight to Austin, Texas, hoping I’d recognize Tim at the airport.  It was easy as he greeted me with open arms.  When I finally walked into Judy’s bedroom, where she laid propped up with pillows and ice packs, she started to cry. As she poured out her heart to me about her predicament, how she missed Jane and needed a friend, I started to cry too.

Over the next eight days we laughed, we cried, and we talked endlessly about Jane. I read to her, and we joked about her swollen face.  In the last few days, I helped make her presentable enough to venture out into public again. As she said goodbye to me, she thanked me profusely, proclaiming she could never have done it without me.

How had she known, this was just what I needed? How was she able, in her time of need, to reach out to me, someone even more needy than herself. My days in Judy’s service were eight of the most fulfilling days of my life. As I filled her cup and helped nurse this previous stranger back to health, my cup was filled too. Spending those eight sacred days with Judy gave me the time and distance to remember who I was and what I was capable of.  I gained the courage to face my situation at home again. As I got off the airplane and headed back to my mountain home, I realized then and there that life was too short to be anywhere I wasn’t wanted. Al and I sold our home and moved to Coeur d’Alene Idaho. We bought a beautiful place on Hayden Lake and started over again. It was wonderful. Our kids blossomed and so did I.

Over the next several years Judy and I took a few girly trips together and had a lot of fun. We lavished ourselves in mud baths in Seattle, tried to experience death-by-chocolate in Victoria, BC and walked the beaches of the Oregon coast. Each time we left each other with our spirits renewed and our hearts uplifted. Through Judy, I came to love Jane.

Our lives eventually drifted off in different directions and we eventurally lost touch. Then a few years ago I tried to contact her and learned from her children that she had passed away. She had a very rapidly progressing form of ALS and died shortly after diagnoses. My heart is saddened when I think about her being gone.

But every once in a while I get an email from her youngest son, proudly showing off a picture of their little boy, Judy’s grandson. In the eyes of that feisty little redhead, I see the same fun, joy and compassion I remember in Judy. And it makes me smile.

Thanks Judy, for being the kind of friend that made Jane proud.

26 Comments

  1. Zlynnmarie on April 16, 2019 at 7:00 pm

    Thank you for sharing this story of life’s twists and turns.
    It gives me hope for a new chapter.

    • Suzy Toronto on April 17, 2019 at 4:48 pm

      Thank YOU! Life is indeed full of twists and turns. Lets vow to make those twists and turns into a beautiful story of lovely spiral, swirly designs, eh?

  2. Paula Johnston on April 16, 2019 at 9:16 pm

    I enjoyed reading your blog it is at the appropriate time in my life for sure. I am thinking of writing a blog so you inspired me to follow through and do so. Thanks so much and keep writing,

    Paula Johnston

    • Suzy Toronto on April 17, 2019 at 4:42 pm

      Thanks Paula. Do it. Writing this blog is the most fun writing I have had to date!!!

  3. Judy Jarrard on April 16, 2019 at 10:11 pm

    I loved reading your article Suzy! I am very much like you. Love God, Love people & can not stop talking. I know this drives people crazy sometimes but that is who I am.

    I am very head strong, determined & have it all. Been married 41 years, three intelligent, loving kids, 7 grandkids ages 1-11. Whew! But trying to hold everyone together sometimes is overwhelming & no one notices.

    Everyone has a story. There are always people less fortunate but your issues & yourself are important. I tell my family & friends – you need to take care of yourself first before you will be good for anyone else. Trust me I know too well.

    I had a stroke at 33 years old trying to be a super wife, work full-time for the State, had all 3 kids in sports & band with a workaholic husband. I know that was Gods way of telling me to slow down. I looked at life differently after that. It changed me.

    Keep writing & creating! My sisters, friends & I love all your quotes, sayings & artwork. Hugs.

    Judy Jarrard

    • Suzy Toronto on April 17, 2019 at 4:41 pm

      Thank you Judy. I appreciate your story too. and I will forever keep writing to my last breath!

  4. Paula on April 17, 2019 at 1:12 am

    What a beautiful, touching story.

    • Suzy Toronto on April 17, 2019 at 4:39 pm

      Thank you Paula, Im glad you enjoyed it. I worried that it wasn’t as uplifting a story as I usually write but it is real!!!!

  5. Lou Gipson on April 17, 2019 at 2:31 am

    Suzy..
    I too have been there..
    this is just so beautifully written..
    teary eyed, I thank God for finding you as a dear friend!
    luvz ya
    Lou

    • Suzy Toronto on April 17, 2019 at 4:38 pm

      Thanks Lou. You’re very sweet to say such kind things.

  6. Mary Slavinsky on April 17, 2019 at 4:50 am

    Suzy, I just love you and have since we lived in Orlando. You write as beautifully as your artwork. We live in Chandler, AZ now.
    We are planning to visit our Cracker Barrell soon.
    Your story is so well written.
    Love and miss you.
    Love, Mary
    Say hello to Cathy for me!

    • Suzy Toronto on April 17, 2019 at 4:38 pm

      Hey Mary, thanks for the kind words. I’ll pass your love onto my sis.

  7. EC on April 17, 2019 at 5:41 pm

    Reading your blog “When No one….” felt like opening an old wound. Next time we are together let’s talk.
    Love you, EC

  8. Betty Burkey on April 17, 2019 at 8:06 pm

    It doesn’t surprise me that you were one terrific person all those years ago too! Wonderful story!

  9. Ginny Wisley on April 19, 2019 at 2:24 am

    Suzy you have ALWAYS been an inspiration to me. When Stampa Rosa first licensed your stamps, I, as a business owner, jumped straight in with both feet. I can always find “me” in your stories. This post is my life — I have few close friends (maybe 2; one lives out of my state) I have acquaintances.. I get called to do things for church, clubs, etc., but they aren’t FRIENDS. Thank you for the light at the end of the tunnel (although I’m sure that my 63-1/2 years are more than you & the light isn’t as bright as 30 years ago 🙂

    • Suzy Toronto on April 19, 2019 at 1:46 pm

      Thanks Ginny for your kind words. And surprise…we are about the same age. I will be 62 in October. That light hair you see in my photo…it’s not platinum blonde…its silver white! (And sunglasses hide my wrinkles!!! But I am forever young at heart!

      • Ginny Wisley on April 20, 2019 at 4:18 am

        Suzy keep me on the road with you as we don’t grow up!

      • Christine on April 22, 2019 at 1:50 am

        Love your comment. So glad white hair is actually ‘in’. Young people these days even dye their hair grey!!!

  10. Robert Meyers on April 19, 2019 at 9:38 pm

    “Fresh courage take” From the wells of a life dedicated to serve others for her God with all of her heart, mind, and soul. This piece shows a shy, timid side of Suzy I have never seen or met until now. Being REAL, being AUTHENTIC, being GENIUINE, being YOU. Simply stated THANK YOU SUZY Robb

    • Suzy Toronto on April 22, 2019 at 3:25 pm

      Thank you Rob. That’s exactly what I wanted this blog to be. Me! All my faults, insecurities as well as my strengths and humor.

  11. Marilyn on April 20, 2019 at 2:49 am

    What a beautiful blog post! Found it through your posting on the Sh** artists group and the calendar is real art! So there!

    • Suzy Toronto on April 22, 2019 at 3:26 pm

      Thanks Marilyn. I appreciate your opinion of my art as a fellow artist!

  12. Christine on April 22, 2019 at 1:47 am

    Thanks Suzy. Just found your blog and read this blog for 16th April. Actually had tears rolling down my face. I’m in a time of my life when change needs to happen but not knowing where to head to. I need a friends community. My friends are too spread out. A season of change.
    I stumbled across your calender in a bookstore in NZ where I live, and I’ve bought copies every year fro my friends. Last year I couldn’t find ant, so had to order some on line.
    Thankyou do much for your wild n wacky inspirational words of wisdom. 🙂

    • Suzy Toronto on April 22, 2019 at 3:27 pm

      Thanks Christine. I post this blog every Tuesday Morning.

  13. Wendy C Toronto on April 23, 2019 at 2:01 pm

    That’s so touching. The best way to lift one’s spirits is to serve others.

    • Suzy Toronto on April 23, 2019 at 4:28 pm

      Thanks Wendy. I wish you could have known Judy. She was a hoot.

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