Sunset on a Master of the Fresh Perspective: Susan Sexton 1939-2009

It's been far too long since my last post here but this one demands to be set upon the page and so it is.....

Four Peaks, Tonto National Forest, Arizona
Since hearing the news that my dear friend has passed from our world on November 11th, 2009, I've been dumbstruck. Feeling like I am walking in water over my head, shedding tears and yet also trying very hard to follow the old poem's dictate: "don't weep for me". She would want it that way, no weeping, just recognizing that she is still here in the hearts of loved ones, that she lives on in the beauty of her work. I guess I'm not up to her standards just yet though because the tears just don't seem to abate so easily.

Susan was a special friend to me and, although I know she is gone, I also am very sure her spirit will live on in my heart and in the hearts of so many friends and, of course, in the hearts of her beloved family. She was the kind of person who touched deeply, who made a difference in so many ways. She was bold, assertive, smart, insightful and commanding while also kind, generous, loving and fair. Truly, her artistic sense and photographic excellence and achievement was a pinnacle which remain the goal so many of us mere mortals aspire to. And yet, she was so down to earth, a real person, without the swelled head that sometimes comes with such great talent and success.

We were not to be lifelong friends, having only a handful of years together. Mostly we lived far apart, not seeing each other, yet we remained connected. When she would visit her family in Arizona, she always made sure to reconnect and it was like we'd just left off yesterday, so comfortable, so caring, so much fun. We shared birthdays two days apart and would joke about our Libran ways. I felt enveloped by the love of a good friend whenever I was with her and that feeling, along with her warm and genuine hug, is how I will always remember her.

Beyond her great and undeniable artistic gifts, Susan was such a great lady and a wonderful friend. So sweet and gentle, strong, wise and warm, her friendship was one of those gifts in life, adding such a unique richness. I'm so thankful and honored Susan chose me as a friend. Her influence through her work, through her creative and adventurous personality and through what she shared of her beautiful loving spirit enriched me and continues to be an inspiration.

Susan and I spent many hours together this summer. She was so very alive, so happy to be healthy again after beating that first round of this illness in 2008, so ready to reinvent herself through her work once more. If you know about her life's path, you know this was nothing new to Susan and she relished the challenge and the change. She had plans for great things for her planned "real" retirement phase of life that was just beginning this year and I'm sorry we won't be privileged to see them now. She was so energized and ready to jump into new horizons before the last episode of this terrible disease. We talked of past, present and future, plans, dreams, art and vision, words and connections, actions, perspectives and deeper meanings and, of course, of family and friends. Her sweet smile was almost ever present, her wonderful laugh a welcome punctuation in the conversation and that soft hushed but powerful voice laying out loving and wise words in so many directions - to the world, to the horses, to all her people....like a tonic, having that voice wash over you with all it carried.

Susan so loved her people. I cannot think of a time we met when she did not speak lovingly and proudly of each of her children, their accomplishments, their strengths, her love for them shining brightly through. She spoke lovingly too of her grand babies and their mother, her brother and sister, nieces and nephews, her sweet cousin Beth too and her friends, oh, so many of them, far and near, from all walks of life. I cannot recall her gossiping or talking about someone in a bad light - this was just not her way, she instead would acknowledge, accept and understand that others might have burdens we just did not know about, things that might push them to make poor choices and so she would move on to the positive, always the positive.

I'm going to miss her terribly. Honestly, I do already. But I am all the richer for having known her, for having been embraced by her wonderful friendship. My prayers and thoughts go to her family and friends now - she loved them all so deeply and fully.

Susan, my darling friend, fly free and far, bask in the glow of the beautiful heavens, feast your eyes upon the beautiful horses, ride them into the sunset and across all the rainbows, delight in the glories of heaven and know that as you so deeply loved, you were loved by many.


Julie Blair said...

Rebecca, This is absolutely beautiful. I was just getting to know Susan on Facebook of all places, and I am so sad she is gone. The tears flowed as I planted some paperwhites in her honor. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with all of us. Susan was a lovely person and she will be missed by many.

Kathleen said...

Thanks, Julie. Susan really was one of a kind, a first class act in every way. I miss her so much, she was really like a light in my life. Captive Spirit is my biz name, actually fb wouldn't post this blog post as my status when I tried to share it there so Rebecca reposted it for me. I can't seem to get it to post on the news feed... fb can be so annoying at times.... Kathleen

Charles said...

Hi Kathleen, Through EPN and a visit to Chicago and Susan doing a shoot in Texas, I was able to visit with her and became an admirer. You have written a wonderful tribute that puts in words what many of us feel and think. I have many fond memories of discussions we had during those times but had lost contact with her when I left EPN so thank you for sharing both your heart and information. Susan will be missed greatly.

Charles Hilton