your stories

Susanne Sanchez’s story

Susanne Sanchez (then Macdonald) was Liz’s freshman roommate at Georgetown. Amazingly, she is still Liz’s best friend today — even though she was the girl who gave Liz a rabbit for her 19th birthday. And not just any rabbit: It was Harold the Demon Bunny! This is Susanne’s story:

“Could I have really said, ‘Happy Birthday, Liz! To the girl who has everything!’ when I handed her the rabbit cage?

Reading the book, with all the pain, suffering and loss, my comment seems so incredibly insensitive and downright clueless.  Of course, my first reaction to this quote was to get defensive: Liz must have remembered wrong.  But, then I allowed myself to go back to my freshman year of college, sharing a 10’ x 15’ dorm room with Liz, and my comment almost seems to make sense.”

“Except for that first night when she told me her story — and even then, she didn’t cry — Liz never brought up the fact that she had no parents.  She never talked about missing them or lamented over the simple inconvenience of not having an unconditional crash pad during summer vacation.  The only day I remember her being quietly reflective was on the anniversary of her mother’s death in December.

To say that Liz was popular is a wild understatement. She was and is that rare mix of beautiful, smart, kind, funny, and dangerously generous.  Other people’s problems always became her own, as she would seek them out to help, console, or lend her favorite pair of jeans. The one thing that would always drive me crazy about Liz was when we went grocery shopping.  She knew everyone and would chat with each one at length in every aisle, taking us over an hour to get out of the store.  Always upbeat, Liz would listen to everyone’s problems and showed real compassion for whatever the issue, big or small.  Very few people knew that she had no parents, as she rarely shared even a sad thought.

And yes, we did get Liz a rabbit for her birthday. I remember discussing it beforehand with our roommates Birgithe and Ariane, whose birthday was several months earlier than Liz’s.  We had given Ariane a lame gift of a battery-powered back massager that looked like a very large dildo. We wanted to liven things up! (Literally.) If nothing else, we thought the rabbit would be good for laughs. To us, it was a fun, spontaneous gesture that reflected how we wanted to live our college years.  But we had parents who could take in a rabbit every summer (and pick up any other loose ends that we might have carelessly tossed aside).  This was a support system that we took for granted every day and never did Liz preach us to do otherwise.  With her sunny, let-me-help-you disposition, Liz distracted us from the fact that she had no such support. Still, never in a million years did we imagine that Harold would poop everywhere, pee strategically on our bed pillows, and bite everyone who tried to pet him.

Looking back now, and reading this book, I see what a pillar Amanda was even then… sure, she’s a toughie on the outside, but she never hesitated taking in Liz’s ornery rabbit who went on to live for seven long years!”

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