Monday, December 15, 2008

Suzi Blee Granger

Suzi's memorial was incredible. Suzi wanted her death to be a powerful contribution to her community, and so it was. During her declining health, she asked to be surrounded by her friends and family. A team of Angels stepped up to organize a public calendar, and daily the house was filled with rotating loved ones. She asked for soothing things, like being read to, just holding her hand, rubbing her feet or her swelling belly (full of tumors). She was the most surrendered person I've ever seen, a woman available to receive love. It was touching and sweet, and somewhat unlike how she was in her life.

There was a reason for this. The day after she was born, the Japanese invaded Hong Kong and took she and her mother by force to a prison camp. There Suzi spent the first five years of her life, with a gun pointed in her face, nearly starving, all while witnessing the violent deaths of others who had attempted escape. There's no surprise that Suzi never felt safe in her life, she had a steel wall up (masked by her fiesty, playful, happy personality) that protected her from being close with people.And yet, Suzi charged forward in her life, determined to live powerfully. She raised two children on her own, struggling to make ends meet. She lived in Australia for most of her adult life, until her soon-to-be husband Terry found her online, all the way from Niwot Colorado. Determined to give marriage and love a real go, she lept across the ocean and married Terry in 2003.

Over the next five years Suzi did the Wisdom course, with the primary homework of creating an Autobiography. Through this painful, yet liberating, homework, Suzi dealt with putting the years in the camp on paper, shedding, healing, grieving. She opened up herself to others and as a result had an enormous community who loved her.And so, on her deathbed, to witness her receiving, surrendering, trusting, it was the ultimate miracle to watch. She wanted her death to be "real" for others, for us to deal with the reality that it is. She didn't want to put on a brave face for others, she wanted to just accept "what is".

In her final months, she found great comfort in the teachings of Buddhism. She planned her death and her memorial, down to the flowers and the program... she let go of denial and wanted her death to be a celebration! And so it was. Her memorial was at the Shambala Center, up on the top floor in the temple. At least 100 people gathered for a traditional ceremony, beautiful and touching readings, "Ave Maria" and "I'll be seeing you" sandwiched the evening. Since we had saged her room, I had been light and free, joyful even. I felt such peace that she was no longer suffering and did not have the kind of death that would be inevitable if she was alive much longer. And yet, at the very end of the ceremony, a picture of her is burned, as a symbol of freeing her to leave her life here. I wept and sobbed as I realized she is gone, as did everyone near me. I've felt more and more exhausted as each day passes, and last night we had a final dinner party to honor her son before he leaves.

Probably the most interesting thing for me in all of this is that when she got very sick and disturbingly thing and weak, I literally could not call the "old" Suzi to my mind. I couldn't see her vibrantly alive, all I could see was the Suzi who was sick in front of me. After we saged, suddenly I saw her as she had been, I once again could hear her big bold laugh and her huge personality. Oy she was funny. So last night, as we feasted and toasted, we all noted that although we couldn't "feel" her (spirit) in the room, we all could imagine her there and feel her in our hearts.So here's to you Suzi, you inspired so many to live their passions and fully, and to "just get over it" in the face of being afraid or pissy, whatever. Thank you for being part of my life.

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