Sunday, April 24, 2011

Letter to Susan, 16th April 2011

Easter Sunday
24th April 2011

My Susie.

It will soon be two whole years since you left us. I talk to you daily, my darling, looking out on the Acer Tree planted in your memory in our back garden, under which our share of your ashes lie, and both Daddy and I shall be joining Donald and the boys, and Chris and Sarah at the Chelmsford Crematorium on the 28th April to spend some time with you as a family. It is a beautiful, peaceful garden and the commemorative bench we ordered for you last year should be in place. We shall have lunch together at a local restaurant afterwards and drink a toast to you, our beloved Susie.

You have left behind many delightful memories, my sweetheart, one of which I shall recall now for the enjoyment of all who visit your website:

Susie and Christopher ready for bed
You were six. You had been in bed some hours, and your bedroom was in darkness. I was on my knees, tidying up your dolls’ house when, out of the blue, I heard a little voice ask very sweetly,

Is that my house or yours, Mummy?”
Yours, of course, darling,” I replied, somewhat taken aback.
Well, Mummy,” you went on, politely but very positively. “I don’t tell you how to arrange the furniture in your house, so could you please allow me to arrange the furniture in my house as I choose”.
Yes, of course,” I mumbled.
Your admonition hurt, my Susie, but I was pleased to know my little girl could stand up for herself.

A few days later, I noticed the television set in your dolls’ house had been moved from living room to bathroom. I was on the point of transferring it to a more healthy location, dining room possibly, when I remembered your admonition and stopped in my tracks.

Many, many years later, when I was recalling this episode, you confessed, you little monster, to having deliberately placed your TV set in front of the lavatory seat in you dolls’ house just to test me! Do you remember? I hope you gave me due credit for the self restraint I displayed.

I have made a photographic record of your life for ourselves, one for Christopher and Sarah, and a third for Donald and the boys and I am now in the process of filling two scrapbooks with the numerous cards and letters of condolence, emails and Mass cards we received at your death. In due course I shall pass them on to Donald for your boys. It would make you very happy to read the compliments your cousins have paid you. So many of them were present at your funeral and so many have made contributions to the website Sarah designed in your memory and initiated shortly after your death.
I shall never stop missing you, my angel. Watch over us all, please, and pray for us. I am trying, my darling, to get closer to God so that I may also be closer to you.

Till we see you again, my precious daughter, rest in His Perfect Love.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

For Susie With Love

Darling Sue – we are coming up to the anniversary of your loss, and while we feel your absence from our lives, your presence is all around.  I will forever associate you with those happy, carefree times we shared at No: 60, while growing up.  You were another sister as well as cousin and friend.  You were also my confidante.  Do you remember the long, long chats we had about the problems we read on the Jackie mag Agony Aunt column, and how seriously we took it?!  Looking back, the stories were almost all made up, but how we loved them, and how we tried to solve all those problems that teenage girls like us were going through!  And the scramble to be the first to read the magazine!  As always, you were the one who gave way.  And that was your way – you never resisted.  I recently heard the theme song from “Beaches” and there is a bit in it which could have been written for you.  It makes me sad.:

“You were content to let me shine, that's your way.
You always walked a step behind.
So I was the one with all the glory,
while you were the one with all the strength.
A beautiful face without a name for so long.
A beautiful smile to hide the pain”

Sometimes I feel guilty that we took advantage of your sweet nature – you always shared the lovely clothes you had and never minded if I chose the outfit you wanted to wear.  But that was you, Susie – sweet, gentle and not a mean streak in you.  We were so close back then and then life got in the way as we grew up and followed the paths in life we chose.  Somehow the closeness faded through geographical distance, but you were there for me when I was diagnosed with BC – the first cousin to ring me, to write to me and talk me through it.  And all the while you were going through an even tougher time yourself.

I miss you.  They say God takes his own early.  How true.  I told your Mum that the mould was broken after you were made.  You were unique and a one-off special.  And will always be special.

My love, always, and till we are reunited once again. 


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Letter from Debbie Hilton. 21March 2009

This is what Debbie Hilton in Australia said to Ninette in a letter written five weeks before Susan died.

Debbie was Susan's Chief Bridesmaid.

Bridal Group
"Forgive me for not writing before. I should have and I know how remiss it was of me not to have the courage to put fingers to keyboard. I can't help it - I just don't want this to happen. Of all my cousins, Suzie is the one I hold dearest to my heart. There is something deeply good about Suzie and she is and always has been the sweetest, kindest soul. My heart breaks knowing how ill she is and I wish I could say the right thing, write the brave and encouraging sentence that will comfort you and her family but I know that is not possible. I am at a loss to understand why it is so many of the people I love so dearly (even though I rarely see them) have been stricken with cancer and I ask : 'Why Lord, Why?' I try to convince myself that only the best are taken so early but that just won't do any longer. In short, I am confused, I am angry and I don't accept what is going to happen.

Susan and Donald.
2nd August 1986
In the distance, across continents and over the ether, my hand reaches out to touch yours and to let Suzie know she will always be in my heart and in my thoughts.
I pray God spares her pain and helps her through this time,
helps Don and her boys, too . . . . . ."

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Frances Hill writes:

Susie with her Godmother
"I shall always remember you with love, Susie: my beloved niece and godchild.  Being domiciled in Ceylon, currently on leave in England, you were the only child of the family at whose birth I was present and able to hold in my arms as an infant.  I was also there to help your mother decorate your nursery and prepare for your arrival in other small ways.  It was a privilege.  Thereafter I saw you every two or three years, monitoring your progress in short spells, but the bond of familial love and interest never waned.  You were always a blessed child, teenager and young lady, Sue, and I miss your presence among us now, but also find comfort in knowing you are an angel in heaven.  Like my son, be your old aunt's guardian and pray for us all."

Friday, March 5, 2010

An Appreciation of Susan Cruickshank's Life:

Looking back over the years I remember going to Susan’s 21st Birthday party in the 1970s.  Then, in the summer of 1986 I came to Susan and Don’s wedding.  The service took place in Ealing Abbey, and the reception was held at a hotel on Richmond Hill.  It was a very happy occasion.
I remember when Susan achieved a BSc in the mid 70s.  She said she would not normally be using the letters after her name, except for one occasion she had cause to write a letter to her bank manager about an issue with her account.
It was with concern I learned of Susan’s illness at the start of the new millennium.   I prayed for her, and I got my church to pray for her.   After receiving treatment the illness seemed to have been dealt with.
I always enjoyed meeting up with Susan and Don and their two boys, Jonathan and David.  I would often see them around Christmas time at Ninette and John’s home. 
In the autumn of 2008 I went to visit Susan and Don and Jonathan at their home in Chelmsford, Essex.  I had Sunday lunch with them.  Afterwards we went for a walk in the park with their dog called John Boy (as in ‘good night John Boy’!).   Later on I was given a lift to Chelmsford Station so that I could catch the train home.
Looking back on that Sunday afternoon in the autumn of 2008 I am so glad I went to see them when I did.  Shortly afterwards I learned to my and everyone else’s dismay that Susan’s cancer had returned.  Again I got my church to pray for her.
I received e-mails from Ninette updating me on Susan’s condition.  It was distressing to learn that the treatment for cancer had affected her optic nerve, and she was temporarily unable to see – with the possibility that she might go permanently blind...
Susan was moved to University College Hospital in London.  At the time I was working in the Pimlico area.  In my lunchtime I got the Victoria Line to Warren Street to visit Susan in hospital.  I was not sure as to how I would find Susan, in the light of her illness.  However, I was pleasantly surprised to find Susan in quite good spirits considering her circumstances.  I would have liked to have spent the whole afternoon chatting to her, but I had to think about getting back to work.  In spite of the problems with her optic nerve she was just about able to make me out.  I would leave the hospital after seeing Susan feeling positively uplifted.
I recall last visiting Susan in March 2009.  Just over a month later I received an e-mail saying Susan had passed away.   I went along to her funeral in Chelmsford to say good bye.
What I particularly remember about Susan is that we could discuss controversial matters of politics without getting into a heated argument.  As we all know politics and that sort of thing can arouse strong and passionate feelings.  Yet, with Susan it was possible to calmly discuss all the different viewpoints about a controversial issue.  On one occasion the discussion involved the pros and cons of capital punishment – and we all know how that can arouse strong feelings either way!!!  Susan and myself and the others discussed the pros and cons of this matter in a very calm manner.
I am going to miss these discussions and conversations with Susan.
Looking back to the autumn of 2008 I am so glad I went to see Susan and Don in Chelmsford before that illness returned.


Monday, February 22, 2010

In Memoriam

Christine Higgs writes:

Susan, ever since she was a little girl was known to me as a very special and beautiful human being. Being cloistered in a Convent I had not met her, but being so closely knit as a family, letters and photos were in constant supply. When Frances, Alan and their children returned from regular visits abroad, they brought back films and slides as well. I became acquainted with Susie long before I first shared her home in the late '60's. Our lives became interlinked during subsequent visits in the '70s and '80's. Susan the gentle, kind, brave, compassionate, thoughtful, selfless and devoted girl, blossomed into a young lady, wife and mother, daughter and grand daughter, niece and cousin, never losing any of those qualities, but deepening them. I sorely missed her friendly newsletter with photos of her family, at Christmas. Her faith was great, her love true and constant, her trust implicit. Last year her Lord called her to himself.
“And He raised her up on Eagles wings Took her to the break of dawn, Made her shine like the Sun, And holds her in the palm of his hand.”
For Nin
In Memoriam

Monday, February 1, 2010

Extract from letter to Ninette from a neighbour and friend, CLAIRE EGLEME BURKE

I would like to thank you for giving me the opportunity to meet your daughter and spend two afternoons with her at the hospital.
She was wonderful, very courageous, and full of confidence in God.
She fought so hard to stay alive longer for her husband and her wonderful twin sons . . . . . . . .
I shall never forget Suzan and I shall remember her always as someone very joyful, full of dynamism until the end.
Keep smiling, thinking of her . . . . . . . . .