“Good afternoon, my name is Justine Stewart.
I would like to share with you the Lisa I know. We met when our oldest children were in second grade and that summer our children were in a book group together. Our children would be engaged in their book group and we would be entertaining our younger ones together and talking, the way moms, who don’t get out of the house much, are eager to talk to one another! She then became so much more. She became one of the few women that you really raise your children with.
For those of you that have children, you know the ones, the ones that are on the same parenting page with you, the ones you can bounce ideas off of, laugh at your children with, laugh at yourself with and share the beautiful journey of motherhood. She was one of my dear mommy friends. We then got the husbands together, you know, the next step, and I was so happy that we now had great new “couple friends.”
Clarke and Lisa together were a great night out! Full of laughter, endless conversation, those evenings that you are so glad you made the plan and eagerly awaited the time that the stars aligned and all schedules coincided so that we could go again.
The summer our children were in their book group, Lisa had a newborn-sweet Tristan. The book group ended around 5:30, so between us we had 8 children to feed. We had been on the beach and really now had the task of getting a job done after lazing away the afternoon. On one of these days, new in our relationship, I suggested that Lisa come over with the kids and we would order pizza. She was reluctant, but I am convincing. I ordered, the kids played, the pizza arrived, the kids ate and they were all happily fed and ready to go home and to bed. I had used paper plates because I got a sense Lisa really felt she was imposing, I didn’t want her to feel I had to do dishes on her behalf. What I didn’t know then, was that the impromptu gathering was not the norm for her. She was a person with a plan and she must have been uncomfortable coming to my home without a hostess gift.
I bring this up because as I look around my house, I have so many gifts from Lisa. From the perfect salt and pepper shakers in the shapes of summer picnic items after we invited them to a Fourth of July celebration, to a beautiful vase picked out for my kitchen, she always had the perfect item. She spent time shopping! She always had great clothes, collars for every occasion for her dog and a passion for small businesses. I think of the small business that she was passionate for and she would buy their products I believe in quantity and make the point to spread their name and products to her friends. I am carrying a clutch today that she gave me. It is a Sara Oliver bag. Lisa had a lot of them, she loved them. They are made by senior citizens in San Francisco and Lisa loved the bags and the back story, to quote Sara Oliver, “With every Sarah Oliver handbag, we are empowering seniors, giving them a newfound sense of purpose and community,” Not only are the bags beautiful, but the ideal behind them is something Lisa really believed in.
She has given me peanut butter from The Peanut Butter Company, I had no idea you could buy peanut butter that had chocolate in it. She was a huge supporter of Browne and Co. in town. She would bring me honey that was from the farm of Clarke’s brother and sister-in-law. I had macaroons from Gesine Bullock-Prado and have a bowl from her beloved fabulous Beekman Boys. I have books signed by the authors, not only signed but she had probably met them at some great writers gathering. She wanted to share the things she loved. It was also one of the ways she told me that she loved me. I always appreciated them, I now treasure them as they are a physical piece of her that I can touch.
Lisa was really funny. We laughed a lot, often at one another and ourselves. We laughed about random things in the tabloids, fashion, our families, our parenting mishaps and we laughed about cancer when we could. When you put her and Clarke together, the funny could swing to hilarious between the two of them and those are memories I will cherish. I look back to many moons ago, Lisa had created a Facebook page titled something like “Lisa is funny.” I think Clarke laughed and told her that she wouldn’t get 100 followers on it as a challenge and a funny husband/wife thing. She told me and we laughed and I went home and solicited some of my Facebook friends to join her page so that Lisa could have bragging rights about the followers of her humor, to Clarke. We thought we were so funny! She also had a twitter account, “Tristan said it.” They were full of the adorable, and often funny, quotes of her young son that made her laugh. She was joyful and funny.
Lisa was a car person, I am not, so this is something that I don’t fully understand but was the source of humor for us. She once had a particular car. I thought I had seen her near my house and said, “oh I think I saw you in your Olympic car”. She looked at me puzzled, I repeated, naively, that it had the Olympic like circles on the front. She looked at me in her blunt but loving way and informed me that the Olympic car is an Audi. An Audi. We laughed. Recently she spoke about the beautiful new car she had purchased, she loved it and she had only been able to drive it twice and she was angry about that! It was one of her goals, to be able to drive it again. I believe she did a few times but she wanted the freedom and luxury that it gave her.
Lisa was straightforward, no beating around the bush. I appreciated this 99 percent of the time. It is how I tend to be as well. She was the kind of person that if you asked her for her opinion or advice, she would give it to you and you would have a real answer, not just someone posing the question back to you. It really is a valuable friend to have, not one that tells you what you want to hear, but the truth. The 1 percent of the time I didn’t appreciate it, was probably because I either really didn’t want to hear it or it really was true and I wasn’t ready to admit whatever that truth was, to myself.
The Lisa I know was most concerned with being a Mom and a wife. We have spent the last nine years talking about those issues. That is what our friendship was based on. I love her family and she loved mine. She always checked on my children. Even two or three weeks ago, she had found out that my son had scratched his cornea and she wanted to know how he was. She loved them, the mom friends that you have that truly love your children are few and among the most treasured. We discussed our families and relationships a lot, with candor, love and laughter.
I want to reflect on a few of these memories and discussions and relay them to the people Lisa loved most. I want to first address Lisa’s parents and Clarke’s parents. My memories of you stem from Lisa’s stage 2 cancer. Every round of chemo she had, one set of you were there. Not coming from as strong a family, I was in awe, jealous and so happy for Lisa, Clarke, and the children that they had you. I would drop Paige off each Monday and she would be so excited to see all of you. They all felt the love and the care. Lisa knew the support that she and her family had, did not take it for granted and felt pain for you as you are having to grieve her. She loved you and appreciated you.
Clarke, you and Lisa were simply the perfect balance. When Lisa called 2 1/2 years ago to tell me that the cancer had returned, the only comfort I could give her is that she had married well. We discussed how she would not be able to take the parenting journey as far as she or anyone else would like, but you are so nurturing and you may not do the job exactly like Lisa but you will be great at it. She was lucky to have you and your children are as well.
Paige, you have been exactly who you are today since I met you in 2cnd grade. A lot of qualities like your Mom, and your Dad, smart, driven, passionate and fun loving, you have fun in ways that your Mom approved of. She would love to hear that you had been singing loudly in my car or laughing hard with the boys, or at the boys!
Colin, you reminded Lisa a lot of your Dad, Clarke. You are kind, sweet, smart and she loved being with you or watching you in your baseball games.
Tristan, you made her laugh when she most needed it. Your honesty, youth and humor were much needed over the years.
Lucy the dog. You were a constant daily comfort for Lisa and the family. I am sure you have a collar for every occasion, and probably a matching picture from the groomers to mark each one as well.
The Lisa I know was foremost a Mom and wife. One who made me laugh, cry and appreciate each day a little more. She was an example in manners, she took them seriously, instilled them in her children and was the ideal dinner guest! I will remember her through her children. My children will remember her and tell their children about her as well. I will think of her as I carry my purse, watch the flowers begin to bloom in the garden and the sun shine on me.
You will be missed my friend. Loved and missed. Never forgotten.”