Even in death Lisa Ratcliffe had the capacity to make me laugh out loud. I spoke with her over the phone for the last time a few days ago. We gossiped. Talked about how she was going to ride her horse again, how she was going to prove the doctors wrong and get off that couch. Lisa was going skiing. Lisa would be there for her child’s birthday party later in the year. We spoke about death. We spoke about the possibility of death but neither of us believed in it. We were being honest with each other. I was behind her one hundred percent whatever she chose to do.
I believed in Lisa and still believe in her now, an hour after learning that she has died.
As we spoke on the phone, I could hear the morphine in her voice, but still she joked about farting and belching (it was a good feeling that cut her off the phone at one point), we laughed. I joked that we could attach the couch to skis or even get her a horse and carriage sans couch. The couch became a running joke during our last conversation. It makes me smile now to think of what she said, it is a conversation I will carry with me always, it is our last private words and they were filled with such joy, hope and love.
Lisa was The Hesitant Scribe, and throughout her illness she brought us a world that few of us will ever know. Beyond the illness, the pain, the cancer that could not eat her whole, she was a writer.
I will share one thing with you all from that last telephone conversation, in the hope you will learn something. We talked of procrastination, how we all do it but that in the end life is for living. Life is not for procrastination. This is something that bound Lisa and I as friends, the desire to live a full life, a positive life, a life worth living.
I taught at a University with Lisa for several years, had more lunches with her than I can remember. Over many bad meals, we moaned, laughed, bitched, swore, argued, fell out, made up and told honest, wicked tales about people we had known.
She was honest, caring, devoted to the people she loved, her partner, her children, she was proud of them. She would tell me the troubles they had got in, how they had all stood up and faced them down. All the time she would have that gleam in her eye, that smile.
From our first meeting to our last conversation, she told me the truth.
I have never been able to convey emotion very well in person but Lisa hammered down that reserve in me. She said to me once, that she was happy to tell me the truth because I had the kind of face that listened. That still makes me laugh.
Lisa Ratcliffe was a writer but more importantly she was my friend, and I will never stop missing her.
Andrew Oldham 05.02.2009