“Clarke, Paige, Colin, Tristan, Larry, Rita, Mark, family and friends,
When Clarke asked if I could speak today, I was honored and I will admit, a touch afraid and more than a little nervous. So please bear with me. Lisa was such a beautiful and eloquent writer and speaker and others have memorialized her so beautifully in major magazines and newspapers and media sites that I fear I will not be able to do her justice. But today, I want to share the Lisa that I knew…an amazing wife, mother, daughter, sister and last, but not least, friend.
When I first met Lisa in Darien through Clarke and my husband, David, I was at a fragile point in my life. Just before our scheduled move to Darien from NYC, I had unexpectedly given birth to very premature twins. The twins remained in the hospital in New York City as we moved to Darien with our 3 year old son. We were dealing with ongoing medical issues with the twins that consumed my days and haunted my nights. I was a newcomer in a fairly close-knit town in which I had few close friends and frankly, didn’t have the time or inclination to make them. But then I met Lisa.
Our friendship evolved in a very organic way…it was not based on our kids being friends or at the same schools, volunteering together at the same organizations, or similar leisure interests. It evolved because of Lisa being Lisa. Quietly checking on me with a phone call or email…invitations to coffee or lunch at Rory’s.
When I finally came out of my shell, Lisa was there. She had a genuine interest in me and my well-being…a quality that unbelievably never wavered even in the midst of the turmoil that would seep into her own life. I quickly realized that she was a keeper. Someone who could keep a secret, offer advice without judgment, and really listen. She didn’t run from messy situations or turn away when things weren’t “perfect” or try to convince me that things were ever going to be normal again. She was simply there to help, guide and encourage me as I struggled with accepting my “new normal” of being a mom to a beautiful son who would never see or speak. She didn’t suffer fools gladly, which I loved about her. She had no problem speaking her mind if she disagreed with me on something…which I also loved. I could always trust her to give me her honest opinion…Lisa, as most of us know, was not one to sugar coat anything.
Over the last 2 years, we had many serious conversations about her health, what her plan was, what was in store for her…her family. How things would play out. How important her work was to her and that she would not stop writing and educating and would not allow anyone else to stop her either. But we also shared many light moments…both before and after her diagnosis…moments of fun…moments that bond. And these are the moments that stick in my head.
We found out that Paige and my son Drew shared a pediatrician when we both lived in New York City but did not know each other and that we both had a minor crush on said pediatrician, which was funny because he was not exactly George Clooney’s Dr. Ross, but what he was was a reassuring presence to 2 first-time moms. Driving to Westchester Mall and the Container Store, Starbucks in hand, singing along like teenagers to Maroon 5 on the playlist she had made specifically for the car ride, as if we were going on a long road-trip instead of a mere 20 miles.
Once when I was in Starbucks with my then 3 year-old daughter, Lane, and we ran into Lisa there (as we did quite often) sitting quietly in the corner working on her writing, waiting for one of her many friends for a quick “catch up”, Lane asked me if Starbucks was “Mrs. Adams’s house.” Lisa and I both got a big laugh out of that, as little did Lane know that I was there just as much as Lisa was. My “I Spy” texts to her when I would catch her out and about if I hadn’t seen her in awhile, her car loaded down with boxes almost as big as she was that needed to be mailed back to various stores…because she was a serious on-line shopper.
I don’t think I ever visited her at home when there wasn’t some sort of clothing or shoe package delivery on the front door step. I remember on her last day of chemo in 2007, I showed up at her house to drive her to Greenwich for her treatment and she walked out in a black top and white jeans…exactly what I was wearing…our only accessories a pair of diamond studs for her and gold hoops for me and big, chunky watches for both of us. Clarke’s mom took a picture of us that day we were laughing so hard…and I treasure it.
We both had additional children…my 4th … her 3rd and we scoffed at the fact that they were considered “geriatric pregnancies” . By then being pregnant was old hat, but we still swapped stories anyway. We traded information on physical and occupational therapists, eye doctors and eyeglasses stores, carpet cleaners, guitar teachers, decorators, painters…you name it…all the things that helped us to run our homes and raise our families. And boy was she a pro at those two things. One only has to spend a short time with her children to understand how exceptional she was at the latter. Paige, Colin and Tristan…your mom truly was one-of-a-kind. A wonderful, witty, smart, courageous, empathetic woman.
To Lisa…I will miss hearing your voice and seeing you, impeccably dressed as always, and your cap of shiny black hair, your big brown eyes always perfectly framed by your well-groomed eyebrows, your Tom Ford sunglasses, and of course your ready smile. gBut mostly I will miss sharing our conversations. And as you wrote in a letter to me and a few others in September 2007 after your first chemotherapy regimen concluded, “…one thing that’s going to get you through this type of experience are your girlfriends.” How I wish you were here to help me get through this one, Lisa.”