Tribute to a Woman I Never Met: Lisa Taylor Huff

Père Lachaise Cemetery, Paris

Père Lachaise Cemetery, Paris

The City of Light has lost a shining star. My letter from Felixstowe is early this week because I wanted to pay respects to Lisa Taylor Huff. I learned last night that Lisa died from cancer on 6 July 2015.

I never met Lisa, but for the past seven years I’ve been a devoted reader of her blog, The Bold Soul.

The blogosphere can be a wonderful community of shared passions, interests and worldviews. I daresay anyone who loves Paris and reads on the Internet would have come across Lisa’s blog at one time or another.

For me, this happened in 2008, when I was living in Sydney. I discovered one of Lisa’s posts just before she and her beloved Georges were married. Immediately hooked by Lisa’s writing voice, her intelligent, insightful and humorous style and our shared lifelong passion for Paris, I spent a few evenings reading through her archives. Later, from time to time, we exchanged comments on the blog.

If I may share some of Lisa’s story as I understand and remember reading about it, she began blogging in 2005. As a 40-something professional, she moved back home in New Jersey, where I’m also from, in order to save for her dream of living and writing in Paris. She wrote about her work, her plans and her family – how close she was to her sister and how she adored her niece and nephew. With great focus and determination, she made it to Paris in late 2006.

There, Lisa wrote about daily life, her ups and downs familiarising herself with the city, and eventually her forays into dating. A year or so after she arrived in Paris, she met Georges, a Frenchman who from the moment they met was the love of her life, and she of his. They married at her sister’s home in New Jersey. I recall beautiful photos of Lisa in a pale green dress and Georges wearing a tie in the matching colour.

Lisa became a stepmother to three children, including a six year-old boy whom she referred to as ‘le garçon’ in her posts, to protect the family’s privacy which she did with great care. Among other topics, she wrote about life with Georges, her writing and other projects in Paris, trips to and from her family in New Jersey, turning 50, moving house several times, occasional health challenges, successfully completing a tough French course at the Sorbonne, finishing the first draft of her memoir (I know I join her fans in hoping this is published one day), becoming a French citizen, voting in her first French election, founding with a friend the brilliant ‘No Love Locks’ initiative to clean up Paris’s historic bridges, and celebrating with Georges the anniversary dates of their meeting, his marriage proposal on the Mediterranean beach they nicknamed ‘Melon Beach’, and their wedding.

Then, one day last December, Lisa wrote that she had kidney cancer. She kept writing and posting, though not as often — about Paris, and Georges, and sometimes about cancer. I remember one post about a surprise gift she’d given Georges that gave her so much pleasure, and that he had given her special writing journals and pens, including one pen chosen because it was the same beautiful green colour as her wedding dress. Lisa’s final post, on 08 June 2015, was titled, ‘There’s how you think it’s going to be. And then there’s the curve-ball reality.’

I read this post with continuing admiration for Lisa and the openness, honesty and courage she demonstrated in facing great adversity. I checked her blog every few days, as I do, but there were no further updates.

Last night, Clive and I stayed overnight in a hotel in Cambridge UK. We had an early appointment there today and wanted to avoid peak hour traffic from Felixstowe. After dinner, I caught up on emails and checked Lisa’s blog: no new posts. I read a few other favourite blog updates, then switched to Facebook.

There it was – a comment from Karin, which showed me a post by Katia, an eloquent remembrance of ‘Lisa’ and ‘her passing is a shock, a life taken far too soon.’ With a wave of sorrow I clicked on Katia’s link to Aimée’s post (and later her blog post which includes a heartbreakingly beautiful photo of Lisa), a moving memorial by a close friend of Lisa’s. Both women talked of Lisa’s example of living boldly, of her kindness and caring, the support and encouragement she gave friends far and wide, what a genuinely nice, wonderful person she was and how many lives she touched.

This morning I read a wonderful post about Lisa by her good friend Linda, on Linda’s blog, Frenchless in France. Later today I exchanged emails and messages with more of Lisa’s friends and admirers, every one saddened beyond measure over the death of this beautiful bold soul.

Through the years, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting a number of Paris bloggers in person. I always thought that one day Lisa’s and my paths might naturally cross.

Perhaps Lisa’s death hits especially hard because so many of us have experienced the loss of friends and loved ones to cancer. My first husband, Gary, died from cancer and several people very close to me are currently fighting for life in their own cancer battles. Lisa’s untimely death and her shining example of living life boldly remind us how precious life is.

I will miss Lisa’s writing about Paris, miss checking her blog to see what she and Georges are doing and the joy they always found in each other, miss her unique voice and the depth of character and feeling that always shone through on her blog.

And I know these things I will miss about Lisa are nothing but a microscopic speck compared to what Georges and her family and loved ones will miss.

Still, I wanted to add my voice to those paying tribute to this remarkable woman. Lisa stands as inspiration to all of us with her words, her character and her life-affirming boldness in living, loving and seeking her dreams.

Montparnasse Cemetery, Paris

Montparnasse Cemetery, Paris

Thank you, Lisa, for being you and for sharing yourself with the world. I will always remember you. Rest in peace.

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26 Responses

  1. Hello Carolyn , such a beautiful tribute to such a wonderful lady , who I know brought great joy to many people. I have never met Lisa either , but for quite a few years I read her blog , I remember the joy she had of meeting George and his children and them getting married. And moving to Paris. I remember the house/apartment move too. I have been following. sharing and supporting NO LOVE LOCKS and how they (Lisa and her friend) worked tirelessly to get things changed. And then Pont des Arts had the locks removed. That was a great joy to them both. Lisa will be truly missed by many , not just in the Blogsphere. Prayers for all friends and family. Take care xo Anne

  2. very moving and nice, from another NJ in France ,cheers and may LIsa RIP.

  3. A fine tribute Carolyn. ‘The Bold Soul’ has often been quoted with fondness in this house too. Sad news.

  4. Beautiful tribute. very moving. Lisa will be missed by many. We must all go on living boldy as she would have wanted us to.

  5. A lovely tribute, thank you. I just saw Aimee’s blog post and was so shocked. I, too, have been reading Lisa’s blog since almost the very beginning. I feel so sad for Georges especially – they certainly had something special together.

  6. A very beautiful tribute to a very beautiful and very bold soul. I was very fortunate and blessed to have known Lisa through the blogosphere and here in Paris as a very over the years. Lisa has been an inspiration to me ever since my early years in Paris, her bright light will never dim… She will be remembered with love by all of those whose lives she touched…

    She is truly a bold soul and lived every moment to it’s fullest.

  7. What a beautifully written piece – I have followed her since she started the blog and feel I lost a friend who’s voice resonated deeply with me. I will miss her deeply – they say that someone doesn’t truly die tip the last person who knows them has passed on – Lisa still has a long life to live but I will miss her voice deeply.

  8. I feel the exact same way as all of you. I’ve been reading her blog for years and was quite devastated to hear that she had passed. She was such an inspirational writer and had such a great sense of humor. I enjoyed reading her blog so much and feel as though I’ve lost a dear friend. Saying prayers for Georges and her friends and family.

  9. Thank you all for the wonderful comments in recognition of Lisa. Her death has felt devastating to so many around the world.

    Annieparis, it’s amazing how much we all remember about LIsa’s story including her joyful romance with Georges.

    pedmar10, thanks for your comment and cheers to another NJ in France 🙂 and yes for Lisa may she forever RIP.

    John, thank you and I know Elizabeth feels the same way. I’ll add a link in a comment below to her lovely blog post about Lisa.

    Aimée, your blog post is so moving and I’ve added a link to it in the text above. The photo of Lisa is hearbreaking – she was so, so lovely and you can see her beauty goes deep.

    Patricia, thanks for visiting and I love reading comments by others who have also been ‘forever’ readers of ‘The Bold Soul’ — and share your thoughts about Georges especially – they truly did have something special together.

    Leesa, you too have written a wonderful post which I will link to below. The blogging community is amazing and I remember one great gathering you organised when we had to go a few doors down from Aimée’s because there were so many of us – beautiful and thank you!

    Patricia M, welcome and thank you, too – you have really gone to the heart of what I feel about losing a friend whose voice resonated deeply. We will indeed remember her and I too will miss her voice so very much 😦

    Jen, thanks for your comment – I too was devastated and feel I’ve lost a dear friend — I hope somewhere in heaven/the Universe that Lisa feels all the love and light shining upon her. ANd on earth that Georges and her family know how much he and they are all our thoughts and prayers.

  10. Additional remembrance posts about Lisa, the incomparable Bold Soul:

    on Elizabeth’s Gifts of the Journey: http://giftsofthejourney.com/2015/07/09/lisa-taylor-huff-a-bold-soul/

    on Leesa’s News from France: http://islandgirl4ever2.blogspot.co.uk/2015/07/lisa-bold-soul-my-friend-adieu.html

    • Thank you for sharing these tributes. It certainly is a shining star that touches so many of our lives across the world. If there are any Bold Soul followers in Los Angeles who want to come together to celebrate this amazing woman-I would be happy to plan. It is what Lisa would have enjoyed.

  11. Patricia M, what a brilliant idea! Maybe I could plan a London/UK remembrance at the same time. According to Lisa’s blog archives, her first post was 25 Feb. 2005. Not sure we want to wait until next Feb. but maybe that’s one possibility?

    We will be in Paris next week and I’m planning/hoping to visit Pére Lachaise and lay flowers for Lisa somewhere there. It may be too early for her to have a memorial site in place but I feel drawn to going there (it’s a beautiful place I’ve walked in a number of times) and doing something in remembrance.

    In the meantime, love the idea of planning some sort of coming together for Lisa’s fans and admirers. Maybe we could send off balloons or something colourful like that all at the same time? [Or adding a second thought — Lisa campaigned so hard against the clutter of lovelocks — balloons seem like clutter in the sky so perhaps we should all simply find a way to live more boldly as the best way to honour Lisa.]

    Suggest we keep it in mind for the short term and see what if anything Lisa’s family does by way of remembrance, memorials, etc. and perhaps plan something in line with their activities?

    Cheers and thank you so much for your comments.

    • When you make it to Paris you should stop in at her special tea shop – I am sure her friends would appreciate kind words from someone located so far away. I looked back over when I commented on Lisa’s blog – the first time being 2008 – she so generously opened her soul, all of it’s faults and gifts, to everyone which made her so human and real to anyone who took the time to read her words.

  12. Patricia M, L’Oisive Thé is on the list 🙂 We’ve been there a few times before, all thanks to Lisa’s writing about it years ago which is how I discovered it. It’s a brilliant tea/lunch spot in a charming quartier.

    I think you’ve expressed perfectly how LIsa was so human and real and generous with opening her soul to her readers. I feel the same way — what a gift to all of us.

  13. For those who may not have seen it, Linda Mathieu has written a beautiful post about Lisa’s memorial service: http://lindamathieu.com/2015/07/12/the-heart-will-go-on/

  14. thank you for this beautiful tribute …I was a faithful reader as well and when I’m in Paris in September I’ll be thinking of Lisa , especially when I see the bridges with “no love locks” again….

  15. Debbie, hello and thank you so much for your comment. Your name is familiar to me from our respective comments on Lisa’s blog and I know you were indeed a faithful reader.

    I love what you and Linda M. say about thinking of LIsa especially when seeing the bridges of Paris with ‘no love locks’. I too will always remember her by the bridges and particularly when passing and crossing the Pont des Arts.

    Hope you have a wonderful visit in Paris in September.

  16. This is a lovely lovely tribute to Lisa Carolyn. However I think Lisa’s boldest challenge in her Life was the cancer, and she handled it with grace right to the very end. The rest was easy in comparison. It would seem that Georges was her destiny (and I believe in Destiny), waiting for her, at her side when she passed. They were given seven happy years together, and may she now Rest In Peace.

  17. Barbara, thank you for your kind words. Lisa truly did handle her cancer with grace to the very end, bless her. It does seem this was her boldest challenge and what a shining example she was and is to all of us.

    I appreciate your comment (and am happy to have discovered your blog and beautiful photos of Paris).

    • Oh Carolyn thank you for this, and for your kind words about my photo blog, Feel free to post comments if you like (I had them turned off for awhile until I got my “blog legs” lol). Lisa…. Until we all meet again. Ps happy to discover your wonderful blog as well!

  18. Carolyn – Very nice piece on Lisa. You did a good job of summing up her time in Paris and her blog.
    The funny thing is that Lisa wouldn’t have wanted all this fuss on her. She had a humble and a quiet side to her. She was a lot of fun to be with. Yes… I knew Lisa very well. She was an incredible person, a hard worker for her goals, and a very loving person.

    She was loved by many who knew her personally and many that knew her through her blog. Even though I dated her and stayed friends with her off and on over the years, my mother still loved her dearly and was saddened by the loss of Lisa’s life.

    This shows the impact she had on the people she met in her life.

    As with everyone else, we all hope that she rests in peace.

  19. Doug, hello and thank you so much for your kind comment and taking the time to share your thoughts about Lisa.

    I’m not surprised that your mother still loved her dearly. It’s lovely to hear from another friend of Lisa’s and I can understand your point about not wanting all this fuss … just for each of us to live life boldly and in the way you describe Lisa with a combination of fun, humility, hard work and being a loving person. She really did have an impact on many people.

    With sympathy and thanks again for your comment.

  20. I just found out today and am so very sad. I never met Lisa in person either, but she inspired me so much and helped me through her blog as I planned my move to Paris. In fact, shortly after I moved here, I needed a gynecologist & emailed her saying that I had been reading her blog forever & that she & I lived in the same area & asked if she had a gynecologist she could recommend! How crazy is that? But…she wrote back with a name & number & info on what to expect. So sweet. I said we should get together over coffee some time, but we never did, and I regret that now. Anyway, I just wanted to add my thoughts here with so many others who “knew” Lisa and were inspired by her whether they ever met her or not. My heart is so heavy for her and for Georges and the rest of their family.

  21. Gina, hello and thanks so much for your comment and sharing your lovely memories of Lisa. What a wonderful story about her blog helping you with your move and her further assistance re a gynaecologist. Very sweet, indeed.

    I think of Lisa so often, also with a heavy heart, though I have a feeling she might say we can all honour her memory by living our own lives boldly. She inspired so many, many people.

    Cheers and thanks again – and all best wishes to ‘your’ and Lisa’s Paris 🙂

  22. For anyone who may not have seen this, here’s a link to a beautiful post by Lisa Anselmo, co-founder with LIsa Taylor Huff of the ‘No Love Locks’ initiative, ‘Losing my Bold Soul Sister: Grief and Gratitude in Paris’
    http://myparttimeparislife.com/2015/10/20/losing-my-bold-soul-sister-grief-gratitude-in-paris/

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