29 April 2011

Hoffman Week, Day 5: Creative Writing


I would have loved to give a eulogy at Barbara Hoffman’s funeral, though I would have been ridiculously nervous and probably would have started crying. I was not asked to honor her on this occasion (nor do I think any of her former students were) so in lieu of that, I have compiled what I would have said on that day (tears or no tears).

I cannot construct enough words to represent how much it meant to me to have you as a professor. The fact that you waited until my final semester at Marywood to pass on to your next form is significant to me in innumerable ways. You were a tremendous asset to my Marywood career, without which I do not know if my love of writing and literature would have grown so deep.

I may have been persuaded to take your class by my mother, but the reason I kept coming back was the relaxed atmosphere you created and your genuine nature. You brought extra dimensions to the class every time you showed us personal photos, artifacts or other trinkets that you collected over the years from all over the world. You may have not had any biological children, but you had the freedom and the means to educate yourself through visitation and you brought those experiences to your extended family of students. To me, that was invaluable.

You cracked me up. You inspired me. You made me feel as though I could write anything at all and it would be the most amazing piece of work you had ever seen. I rejoiced in the freedom I felt in your classes; the freedom that starts with a prompt and ends in a fully constructed piece of writing from the creative heart. This same freedom allowed me to feel less like you were a professor and more like a mentor or guru, one I should learn from and follow. You laughed at yourself and the mistakes you made over the course of your life, painting a picture that placed all of us on the same level. Nevertheless, I placed you on a pedestal.

I know that our time on Earth is finite, but still I did not think you would leave your body so soon. I had hoped you would be there to attend my graduation and the party afterwards. I had really hoped that you would attend my wedding. Further, I hoped I would be able to introduce my children to you and that they would be able to learn something from you in that and future meetings.

Was I disappointed when you left your human form? Yes, of course. So much so that I still feel intense sadness to this very moment. To be at peace with a person’s passing does not mean that one cannot still feel sad. I know it would disappoint you to have anyone still grieving for you for years after your death, but that is not what I am doing. My period of grief is long gone, but I still miss being in your presence.

Iborrowed this image. 
Today, I honor you. I will continue to honor your life with mine as long as I write. Though I may miss physically visiting your office to seek your advice, I am consoled in the idea that as long as I write from my soul, you would be proud. To your spirit, wherever you are, Namaste.


  1. I kept thinking about her at work today, in lieu of just plain zoning, thinking about the conversations I would have had with her about life after college. I'm sure we both would have chilled with her til our degrees turned yellow with old age! I can only hope to be half as awesome as her someday :)