This morning I got up to news of having one less friend in my life. It’s not that I had seen Susan recently, in fact, it has been a very long time. In reality you would not go for years, or even months, without talking to your partner or even a neighbour, but sometimes, unintentionally, we end up not speaking to a friend who mattered in our lives because friendships tend to change as people age or move.
Susan Nutbrown McKinnon was one of those friends in my life. I might not have seen or spoken to her in years but she had been an important part of my life when I lived in Sherbrooke, Quebec. She would always be that friend no matter what. I only have one photo to remember our friendship as I lost a great deal of photos in a house fire. But, I never forgot her – ever. She was THE girl — the beautiful girl that everyone wanted to be. Blonde, tall, stunning and a personality that appreciated life and made you love life too.
It was through Susan that I met her family, and the Nutbrown family forever became part of my life. I guess that is another reason why I am so upset— yet another loss for this family who had the biggest heart in Sherbrooke, Quebec. I always feel things happen for a reason, and our friendship was fate as far as I am concerned. We chose each other for a reason.
I met Susan when I worked at Au Bon Marche on King Street in Sherbrooke. She loved clothes like I did and was what we called a ‘frequent flyer’ customer. In the matter of weeks we became fast and furious friends and she made me feel part of the Nutbrown family. Her brothers and sisters were just like her and sitting at the dinner table with them made me feel whole and happy– and then there was Bill.
Bill Nutbrown was the elder brother, and handsome as all get out, and made my heart flutter. Susan and I laughed about my crush, and she even egged me on. I thought there would be nothing better in this world to be part of the Nutbrown family and to have Susan as a legal sister-in- law. It would even be spectacular to have her as an official ‘sister’.
One Saturday night she arranged to have Bill hang around with me and my late sister Robin at a Bishop’s University event. Sitting in the Lennoxville pub it took exactly 5 minutes before Bill was gazing with stars in his eyes at Robin and I ended up leaving them alone joining Susan in the gym. That night sealed their fate and Robin and Bill got married and she was one that became a Nutbrown with Susan as her official sister-in- law.
As I sit here this morning looking at the one silly picture I have left to remind me of Susan I have regrets. I regret after this photo was taken in Dearborn Heights in Michigan we never really kept up our friendship. She married the man of her dreams, Ray McKinnon, and moved to the United States. It seems we just aren’t obligated to keep up friendships as life changes for us– and in this case I have a lot of regrets.
How do we decide we suddenly don’t have time for people that were once in your life and loved you– like Susan? Sometimes I think you feel they will always be there– but here is my reality: today Susan is no longer here, her sister Pam is no longer here– their mother who gave me hugs and loved me is no longer here, and my sister Robin is no longer here. It’s the age-old problem of having really good intentions and a horrible follow through.
Now we have more friendly acquaintances than real deep friendships and when you lose one it protects us from the hurt that I am feeling today. I had not spoken to Susan in years, but today I mourn the loss of the kind, compassionate and inspirational friend I once knew. I feel the loss her family, and her four beautiful sons are feeling today. I am angry that I did not keep the friendship breathing, or keep it in existence.
The most painful goodbyes are the ones never said and never explained, they say, and today I mourn the loss of Susan Nutbrown McKinnon, a friend forever– always in my heart. We may not have spoken or seen each other in years– but every day you still walked and will to continue to walk beside me in memory.
Life is so precious, hug or call your friend today and my love to the Nutbrown family. Even though Susan’s song has ended, her melody lingers on in my heart today and forever.