A Memorial to Susan

I will remember. It’s jarring to realize that my friend who was a text away just one week ago has left the earth to be present with the Lord. Since I received the call on Wednesday that she had died, I have been without words. Only tears would come. But now, I make the shift to focus on the gift of her life. I will remember. It seems fitting to be writing this on Memorial Day weekend. Memorial is defined as “something to remind people of a person or an event”. So this is a memorial message. Yes – I will remember.

There are many nouns that could define Susan V. Carroll. Attorney, Mama (none are biological but there are hundreds who have called her Mama). Mighty warrior, Woman of God, Community Leader, Friend, Sister, Generous Soul, Intelligent Thinker -this is to name a few. She gave her best to whatever she put her hand to and in the process created a vast army of people who are mourning the personal loss of an irreplaceable soul.

I can think of far more than ten qualities to describe Susan, but since the number ten represents completion, I’ll give you ten. She has completed her race on earth. I am certain she was welcomed to heaven with the words “well done!”. She always told us her glorified body will look like Wonder Woman. I’ll be looking for a Wonder Woman named Susan when I get there. Here’s what I know about what she looked like in her time on planet earth:

Humility – Susan would feel uncomfortable with all the amazing things people are saying about her since her death. She was a bold leader but didn’t have a boastful bone in her body. C.S. Lewis said “humility is not thinking less of yourself – it’s thinking of yourself less”. Susan was always thinking about the welfare of others.

Justice – Susan‘s role as a lawyer was in her DNA. her father was an attorney and it was her destiny to be a moral force in the judicial system. She carried the banner well.

Authority – Susan’s identity was based on her relationship with Christ. She knew she was a mighty warrior and a fierce defender of what is good and right. Susan carried a strong kingdom anointing to break oppression off of people as well as worldly systems. She travelled globally on prophetic assignments and was able to navigate the deep things of God with understanding and great discernment.

Integrity – Susan was a woman of her word – a truth-teller. She lived out the saying, “If you have integrity, nothing else matters. If you don’t have integrity, nothing else matters.” She walked the talk.

Generosity –Susan didn’t wait for occasions to bestow gifts. Her heart to help and encourage others was as deep as the ocean. One example of Susan’s generosity is the way she celebrated her own birthday. She would throw a party and invite her friends – buying gifts for all in attendance. I was bumfuzzled by this the first time it happened. I had never seen anything like it! She laughed and said, “I’ve learned it’s not wise to wait and hope others will remember you and do what you want to do. You be the giver. This way, you’ll never be disappointed.”

Advocacy – she was a defender of the weak and the hurting. In the courtroom, she was a fierce defender. She was gifted at walking people through trauma – certainly having many opportunities to do so through her family law practice. Her gentle Labrador Retriever, Ziva, was certified as a Courthouse Canine to comfort children who are set to testify in a trial and before a forensic interview or medical exam to relieve stress.

She stood by my side during an especially difficult time when my husband was going through a fierce battle with cancer. She was my shoulder to cry on and an ever-present friend. I know of another time a client of Susan’s was scheduled for cancer surgery at Shands Hospital in Gainesville. This woman had just gone through a divorce and didn’t have friends or family in the area. When Susan realized this dear lady was going to be alone, she took off work and drove her to Gainesville. Susan stayed and was her health advocate during a very scary experience. How can you repay someone who loves like that?? Remarkable.

Authenticity -Susan was without guile. She spoke the truth in love. She was never manipulative and didn’t play games.

Playfulness & Fun – Susan loved parties and parades. Almost any occasion was call for a celebration. For many years, her office was on Harrison Avenue in downtown Panama City – the main route of the Christmas parade. She always threw a party and invited everyone she knew to come enjoy front row seats for the fun.

Intelligence & Lifelong Learning – Susan not only earned her Juris Doctor degree, but also held a Master’s degree in Theology. She had an ongoing interest in quantum physics. She was always learning, always reading – always fascinated with new hobbies and skills. I’m not sure whether to put her most recent hobby of raising backyard chickens under learning or fun. It was both for her.

Love. The greatest of these attributes is love. Susan was filled with a sacrificial love that knew no limits. It was a gift she showered on others. And we were forever changed.

What a legacy. Reflecting on the life of Susan Carroll makes me want to be a better person –  a better friend. It certainly seems her life was cut short – she was only 63. That is a reminder to make the most of every moment. That means I have to get up out of my sorrow and run with the baton she passed. Susan’s middle name is Victoria. And she is certainly seated in Victory.

We will remember. Fly high, Susan, the best is yet to come.


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