When I think back to when I found out about Hannah’s diagnosis all I can remember is the feelings of doubt and confusion. There was no way a healthy, athletic, funny, sweet soul so young could have such a terrible disease. How was she handling it? She was going to beat cancer's ass- I felt it in my gut. My mom updated me often on how she was doing based on what was shared throughout our family. I remember hearing about her game winning goal in double over-time, just weeks after she had brain surgery. I laughed and joked with my mom that clearly that athleticism didn’t make it to our side of the family as I often would fake an asthma attack to get out of running the timed mile for my field hockey coach- Hannah would never!
As Hannah’s health took a turn, and things started to feel darker I remember feeling an overwhelming sense of guilt. I wanted to switch places so badly with her- it wasn’t fair that she was going to leave before any of us were ready for it. The day of her funeral I watched the beautiful tribute video her aunt had put together in honor of her and I remember barely being able to see the actual video through all of my tears, but I heard the song “See You Again” playing by Carrie Underwood. I cried even harder when the lyrics sang, “you are the light I follow” because I knew immediately that was going to be the case for me. Since Hannah’s passing, I don't think I’ve experienced a single day where I haven’t thought about her, been reminded of her, or talked about her. Everyone knew about her because she had that kind of impact on anyone she met, and if they didn’t, I made sure they did. The last time I saw her was at her homecoming party and she reminded me that winning the battle with cancer isn’t necessarily about being cancer free- but not allowing it to take away who you are as a person and Hannah most certainly did not.
About two months went by after Hannah passed and I was driving home from practice when the most beautiful sunset happened and “See You Again” played for the first time since her funeral, and it hit me. I wanted that reminder forever- that she would always be a part of the light that I followed. So, I did what any 17 year old would do- I went and got it tattooed on my foot! I have the lyrics “you are the light I follow” and added a butterfly (of course) and had it colored in purple. At the time it felt like the only way to keep my connection to Hannah alive and as a way to reassure her that she would never ever be forgotten. Hannah has shown up in my life in so many ways the last couple of years, it almost feels silly that 17-year old me thought a tattoo was the only way to stay connected (but I still love it!). Signs are everywhere I look, whether it's the number 3 popping up, a butterfly landing close by, or how recently I joined a 200-hour Yoga Training and her best friend Delaney is a part of it. Hannah taught me how to live my life with compassion, forgive easier and most importantly love harder. I will always be in awe at Hannah’s legacy that lives on forever. I want to wish her the happiest 22nd birthday ever, and remember- love always wins.