It was early 2010 when I walked down the stairs to the kitchen. My dad whispered to my mom but I was able to catch his words. My step-aunt Hannah, passed away.
I traveled back up the stairs and turned on the water to coat my cold skin in a shower. The tears didn’t fall right away… I gave my 10 year old mind time to adjust to what I had just heard.
I turned off the water and continued to get ready for school. This didn’t make any sense, I had just seen her when visiting my grandma.
My dad wasn’t wrong, Hannah had died from a drug overdose in her sleep. My mind traveled to questions that a young person couldn’t begin to answer by themselves. Why would she take the drug if it was going to kill her? Did she feel her heart come to a halt?
I went to school and I broke down by myself in the bathroom. I didn’t want to understand any of this… I didn’t understand what happened.
What I didn’t know is this is where I would begin to understand depression and where I would begin to develop it.
Hannah didn’t have an easy life. She was born to a mother who was an addict and would later be sentenced to 8 years in prison for attempted murder. My step- grandpa (Hannah’s father, which we will name Mike) at the time and my grandma would try to help Hannah and her mother by buying her furniture for an apartment but no longer then a month later, Hannah would be out on the street due to the fact that her mother sold everything for drugs.
Within these incidents, Hannah learned not to trust. She ran away countless times and would stay away for months. She was unable to keep a job and was unstable. My grandma and Mike would try to help when her mother couldn’t be relied on.
I wasn’t aware of what Hannah hid behind closed doors.
I look back and I see Hannah in countless memories. She offered me laughter as a child and didn’t let the bad times phase her. I looked up to her… she had black hair and wore these cool belts. She rode around on a skateboard with a cigarette hanging out her mouth which I knew was bad but she didn’t care about that.
I watched her look at her reflection in the bathroom mirror as she did her hair and sang along to the radio that was blasting Hilary Duff. I remember smiling at the fact that she was listening to my favorite artist, I mentioned this to Hannah and she spoke, “yeah I listen to her but if you tell anyone I’ll kill you.” She laughed and hugged me “I’m just kidding Lex, come on.” and I followed her up the stairs.
This is the most vivid memory I have of Hannah. Her voice is clear and I can still smell the smoke radiating off her clothes. This is the memory I turn to when others remind me of all the bad that was in Hannah. I look at this memory and I see a girl who was struggling with her self-image but still made room to laugh. There are other memories but they aren’t as important to me because I have trouble seeing who she was in those moments.
For months after Hannah’s death, I had nightmares about dying. I was upset that I didn’t know what was going on in Hannah’s mind. I’m upset that Hannah didn’t get to grow up. She was 23 years old and deserved to know better then what had been given to her.
I look at suffering in many different ways. I look at the way Hannah suffered and how she dealt with it. I never looked at her as someone who was addicted to getting high and I never will. She was this person that experienced the most of life in the short amount of time that she was given.
I think of her and I see her smiling as she pushes herself down the road on her skateboard.
Rest in Peace Hannah
Sept.15th 1986 – Feb.17th 2018