April 29, 2011
We know that many who would want to be present were prevented from doing so, because they couldn't travel, because they had to work, and even because they haven't heard about her passing yet. Hannah was know by so many across the country. However, we stood today in Austin as representatives from the street youth and traveling community in their stead. We were joined by SYM volunteers, friends, and representatives from the UT student body as well.
We began with a welcome and a prayer asking God to set aside this particular time and place to be safe for everyone to remember Hannah and to share their grief together for a time.
We listened to a happy song called "Wagon Wheel" by Old Crow Medicine Show about happy times of traveling the country. We ready Psalm 150 outside under the trees with the wind blowing. Then we shared good time had with Hannah:
- She could hold her liquor well!
- She was one of the few women I really enjoyed having a few beers with.
- She was a great listener. I talked about the loss of my grandmother with her and my boy fried. That's it!
- She had a mean right hook! And used it on me once!
- She had a great sense of humor and could make anyone laugh.
- She was so sweet. She used to quietly tell me, "It's OK. That guy is a jerk to me too sometimes" after a bad encounter with a street guy who was usually very angry.
- I'm just so happy that she make my road dog so happy. I never saw him so happy and I just am grateful for that.
After we talked about all the ways we celebrate Hannah's life, we began to share the incredible loss of her life. We listened to a song called "Free and Alone" by Pat the Bunny of the Wingnut Dishwashers Union. We read John 11:41 and Romans 12:15. Then we shared things we are missing about her and Zach:
- I will miss her smile.
- I will miss telling jokes and laughing with her.
- I'll miss drinking a beer with her.
- It is such a grief to me that she never set eyes on her son.
The group mourned the loss of Hannah and expressed great compassion to the family and to her fiance. The group talked about how troubling it is to be reminded that none of has a guarantee on tomorrow. The group also talked about how Hannah inspires them and gives them hope. Even though she lived a short life, she was able to do the right thing at the right time, turning her life around when she decided it was time. Many at the gathering expressed how that they can do the same.
After talking about the loss, we turned back to celebration. We listed to a song by Flogging Molly called "If I Ever Leave This World Alive." We read 1 Corinthians 13:12-13. And then we shared thoughts on what endures of Hannah and Zach:
- Both their souls are in a better place now. They are still with us.
- I will carry her memories with me all my life.
- Her fiancées life is forever changed by knowing Hannah and Zach. That will last forever.
- I am hopeful because of Hannah. I'm trying to change my life and it gives me hope to know she did it, too.
- There are hundreds of travelers around the country who knew Hannah. Their love and friendship will endure.
We closed in prayer, focusing especially on Hannah's fiancée and family. We asked God to give them strength and comfort, to keep them safe, and to give them encouragement in the days ahead as they continue to grieve for this tragic loss. Amen.