I am lucky enough to say that I knew Hannah her whole life. We were destined to be friends. My parents brought me, a 2-month old baby, to the hospital to visit Hannah right after she was born. I love that I can say I knew her from the time she was born until she passed. And I’m lucky enough to say that my best friend is watching over me from wherever she may be.
As a kid, I was cautious and a worrier, Hannah was fearless and courageous. I was gentle and calm, she was wild and fierce. That’s why we made the perfect pair. As Hannah grew sick, her energy faded but her spirit kept shining. The thing I admired most about her was her adventurous side. Hannah was up for anything, even things that most people would say were too dangerous. Her fearless heart led her bravely through her battle with cancer. She inspires me to bring adventure into my life. When Hannah got sick, I realized how special each moment we spent together was. To say I miss her is an understatement, but she always lives in my heart.
Though no young person should have to go through what Hannah did, the people around her created an unstoppable community. I have given speeches about Hannah that touched people who never knew her. I’m not from Tinton Falls, where Hannah lived with her mom, stepdad John, and Robbie, and people still came up to me after she passed expressing their condolences because her story touched their lives too. When I started college at Seton Hall in 2017, I had classmates come up to me and say, “I knew your friend Hannah, I’m so sorry, she was amazing.” I am currently doing a yoga teacher training with one of her cousins. Everywhere I turn, Hannah is there. As most people know, Hannah was afraid to be forgotten. I can say with 100% certainty that she will not be forgotten and her spirit lives inside each of us. Happy birthday Hannah, I love you, best friends forever and always.
Sue’s added memories:
Hannah & Delaney were truly lifelong friends and have what I can only say is a soul connection. The girls met on the day Hannah was born, and Delaney was also able to spend a few hours with Hannah on her last day. As Delaney said, they were destined to be best friends and spent much of their time together when they were toddlers and up until we moved to Tinton Falls the summer before Hannah started 2nd grade. Though they didn’t see each other nearly as often once we moved, they always remained dear friends.
I have so many memories of the two of them together, but one in particular sums up each of their own unique personalities. It was July 4th and we were having a backyard party...it had rained like crazy the night before and early morning, which left half of our yard flooded and full of muddy water. The girls were a little more than 2 years old at the time and both had cute little outfits on for the party. When Delaney came over, Hannah immediately brought her out to the patio and couldn’t wait to run and jump through the mud puddle. She had a blast and was full of mud while Delaney stood there on the patio with a horrified look on her face, and all I remember her saying was, “Hannah dirty, yuk, dirt”.... I wish I had pictures of that day because it was so classic of Hannah to be a wild mess and Delaney to be the neat and proper of the two girls.
Fast forward to the weeks Hannah was home on hospice, our time was spent with family and friends. She had no interest in material items, including her phone, so when we arrived home from the hospital, I had put it in a drawer in the living room and basically forgot it was there until the night before she passed away. I’m not sure what possessed me to take it out of the drawer and charge it up that night, but I’m so grateful I did. By that point, Hannah had lost her ability to speak and had been sleeping most of the time but after the phone charged, a text message from Delaney popped up. It was a beautiful message full of love for a best friend, written I’m sure, not knowing if Hannah would ever be able to receive it. Well, I read it to Hannah very late that night and asked her if she wanted me to see if Delaney could come to be with her in the morning. She couldn’t verbally respond but a single tear dropped from her eye and I felt her squeeze my hand. I immediately texted my friend Dianne asking if she and Delaney could come that morning to see Hannah. She dropped everything and the two of them came to our house so that Delaney could be with her best friend one last time...the picture I took of the two of them laying together was taken that morning. So, there’s the soul connection – together on the day Hannah was born and on the day she left this Earth. There’s no other explanation as to why I picked up her phone that night other than it was meant to be.
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Hannah Duffy Foundation
"Love Always Wins"