Palms Up. In Surrender and Praise of a Life Well Lived :: Susan Carol Hauser 1942-2015

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For Susan Carol Hauser, my mentor, my teacher, my friend.
In Memory :: a funeral eulogy, read July 25th, 2015 :: by Jessie Marianiello

I first met Susan in 1999 as an English student here at BSU. She was my teacher in so many writing classes that I lost count! She was my undergraduate academic advisor as well as my graduate thesis advisor. She was my creative cohort in many independent academic studies. She supported me through the recent death of my beloved and husband-to-be. She was a kindred braveheart, my greatest writing mentor and also a dear friend. Susan played a very special and important role in my life, but what I know for sure is that this room is filled to the brim with people who have a story of similar depth to tell. These stories weave a brilliant, richly colored tapestry of a life lived well. Our dear Susan, each of us a thread.

Here, today, we take our deepest sorrow and continue that weaving into our own living landscapes. Forever altered by this great and gregarious mountain of a woman who lived boldly, beautifully. A woman who rode the waves of her own personal tragedies with immense grace. A woman who filled her life with an expansive sort of passion that spilled over into everything she touched. Susan, a full-hearted woman, whom we love beyond measure, we grieve her leave-taking from this world and yet we celebrate the brilliant ways she still remains. Dear Susan, even here, with our feet planted firmly to this earth, we feel your smile, your heart now a little bit of all of us.

In 2003 Susan spoke at my wedding. As a gift, she wrote a poem and, although the marriage did not survive, her words most certainly continue to live. Yesterday I dug her poem out from where it was stored. I had not read it in years. What takes my breath away is that Susan’s words touch upon something that is transcendent and pure. It is filled with love and, as though written just for this moment, is made of something circular, that place where life and death hold hands. I’ve taken the liberty of making a few small edits and, this morning, co-wrote this poem with Susan, for Susan.

What is Joined

Atoms join, one to the other,
married into molecules,
still themselves,
but something else.

Molecules join molecules,
one to the other,
keeping faith with themselves,
yet coupled into something else.

Water to water, drop
to drop, each holding
unto its own, yet wedded into
the body water, something else.

Water joins with earth,
river current kissing show,
ocean tide consuming beach,
continents spooning the seas.

Here, today, we say goodbye to Susan
Mother, Grandmother, teacher, friend,
wise, laughing, loving woman.
Palms up
in surrender
our lifelines, small rivers
running together.

This is where the heart
escapes from its ribbed cradle, loosed
into molecules, delicate.
Released in a way
too perfect for this world.

Each of us still ourselves, but something else:
current that kisses the shore;
tide that consumes the beach;
continent that spoons the sea.

Our lifelines, small rivers
running together.
A watershed
a deep ocean.
all of us, in your parting, molecules transformed.

One of my very first memories of Susan is the day she gave our Creative Writing class a photocopied handout of “Living Like Weasels” by Annie Dillard. Many of her students might remember this essary well. Turns out, that day was a catalyst moment in my life as a writer. The essay, in essence, is about learning, or remembering, how to live. Susan not only knew how to live, she did it well. She “stalk[ed] her calling in a certain skilled and supple way.” She located “the most tender and live spot and plugg[ed] into that pulse.”

In the words of Annie Dillard, “I think it would be well, and proper, and obedient, and pure, to grasp your one necessity and not let it go, to dangle from it limp wherever it takes you. Then even death, where you’re going no matter how you live, cannot you part. Seize it and let it seize you up aloft even, till your eyes burn out and drop; let your musky flesh fall off in shreds, and let your very bones unhinge and scatter, loosened over fields, over fields and woods, lightly, thoughtless, from any height at all, from as high as eagles.”

Dear Susan, may you be blessed by God as you have blessed us. Our wild, limitless, loving friend, fly high, as high as eagles, in perfect freedom. We love you, Susan. Beyond measure. You are loved.

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