There are moments in our lives (and people that we encounter) that shape who we are and the things that we do. For me, that person was Hannah Duffy, and the moments were those in the wonderful and powerful life that she lived. My dear friend Hannah was a beautiful soul and a role model for myself and everyone that hears her story.
I first met Hannah when we were in second grade. Mrs. Wiley had her hands full trying to tame the ball of energy in the form of that rambunctious seven-year-old blonde. I don’t think that I’ll ever be able to forget the blur that she was on the soccer field at recess (and later in middle school), playing the game that she loved with verve and spirit at such a young age. She loved to kick that ball and be the best soccer player that she could be. She loved skateboarding; she loved her baby brother… she loved life. And everyone whose life she touched loved her back, we still do.
Flash forward to middle school and not much had changed in that bright spark of a girl. She was kind, smart, and funny as all hell. She lit up the room whenever she walked in and had everyone in stitches with her quick witty remarks. I remember the day that she got sick. My world was rocked. Fear and anger filled my heart with the thought that this sweet girl, one of my best friends, could have such an adult condition at such a young age. She was supposed to be finishing eighth grade like the rest of us young, healthy, and hopeful kids about to start high school. But when she came back to school after numerous tests and procedures to diagnose her brain tumor, she was no different than the day she was rushed to the emergency room. She was still the same jubilant, spry, wonderful girl that we missed so much. How could I still be angry and scared when she was so hopeful and confident? I never showed those emotions to her again because she showed me how to be strong.
My friend Hannah passed away on September 26th, 2013. It will be eight years this coming year since she has been gone, and not one day has gone by that I don’t think of her. I was so distraught when Hannah first lost her life. I couldn’t comprehend how my friend, a girl so pure and sweet, could just be taken away so easily. When I look back now, I still feel a twinge of sadness. But, more than that, I feel thankful to have known her. I try to make her proud in everything I do. I am going to physical therapy school to try to help young athletes like her achieve their dreams. I remain strong and try to help those who are struggling in life as she did when she was so ill. Hannah is with me in all aspects of my life. All of her friends try to honor her by keeping up ‘that fighting spirit’ as she did. The lessons that her life taught echo in her death and will continue to for many years. I love you HD3.