Tuesday, December 14, 2010


Susannah Lippman exemplified what it meant to be a true friend, and helped inspire a book I once wrote on the subject. She died suddenly, but painlessly, this past weekend, on the way to see a play with two friends, one of her very favorite things to do. Her life was long and productive, and she went the way all of us would probably like to go, easily in the blink of an eye. Sadly though, still filled with dreams and creative projects and things left undone.

The most painful part of her passing was visited on those of us who loved her and survive: we have to deal with an enormous gap in our lives. I still expect the phone to ring and hear her unmistakable Midwestern accent, or find an email sharing some new information or insight or silly video or political petition. Susannah could be exasperatingly determined in her high standards, but always tempered this with fairness and unconditional love.

I first met her when she attended the very first workshop I ever gave, on a chilly Valentine's night in New York City. She was a producer at WNET public television. We both got involved in the Association for Humanistic Psychology, and she was the coordinator for the Eastern region AHP conferences--amazing events featuring workshops with all the stars of the blossoming human potential movement.

We celebrated triumphs and the beginnings of love relationships together, and cried on each other's shoulders when things didn't work out. Susannah often joked that some of her best friends were my former girlfriends. We had many adventures, on the beaches of South Florida, Southampton, The Bahamas, and Jamaica. With her Master's in English, she was one of the best editors I ever encountered, and I often would show her my writing before doing a final draft. And I acted as a consultant when she founded Alphasonics International with Gordon Pierce, and started producing and marketing the world's most powerful subliminal audio programs.

This was by far my longest lasting deep friendship, nearly forty years, and perhaps the most significant thing I can say about it is that in those moments when I might have doubts about my being a worthwhile person, these were resolved by the simple knowledge that Susannah Lippman was my friend.

It was everything a friendship should and could be, and the only thing that keeps it from being perfect is that she's not here anymore. On the other hand, because of all those memories we shared, Susannah cannot ever really die. She has made too much of an impact on the very core of my being to ever disappear. Her passing does leave me with one unanswered question:
"Whose shoulder do I cry on about this?"

1 comment:

barryd said...

Dear Jerry - what a dreadful shock my friend. I never knew Susannah in person but from our many conversations I know just how remarkable a human being Susannah was.

You summed it up perfectly when you said: 'because of all those memories we shared, Susannah cannot ever really die' It is not a lot of comfort in the 'real' world but I know that it is a comfort going forward.

My thoughts are with you and all who knew Susannah.