I'm writing today from Hannah's bedroom. We haven't spent much time here since she left for Heaven. When we came home from the hospice center on February 26th, this was the first place we went. We spent some time, the three of us, just sitting on her bed and talking about her. The next day, Bethany and her cousins chose some clothes from her closet for her to wear in the casket. Since then, we've been in here very little. I put all the baskets of cards, letters, etc., we received during and after her illness in here, along with some of her personal items we've been given from her teachers (projects, papers, etc.). Bethany and I did come in here one day and we went through the clothes hanging in her closet. She picked out several shirts that she liked and tried them on. They all fit her perfectly, and she's been wearing some of them to school. We both decided we would rather see her wear them than for them to just hang in here, unused. Although it's sometimes a little strange to see her wearing some of Hannah's favorite clothes, it's kind of nice, too.
I'm sitting here on her bed, and I thought I would give you a description of some of the things in her room...just to give you a little window into Hannah's personality. When you walk into her room, the first thing you see (and the most gut-wrenching for me) is her letter jacket with "Hannah Joy" on the back of it hanging over the bedpost. In one of the most ironic events of her illness, she received that jacket the day we found out that her cancer had returned with a vengeance. That was also the day she ordered her class ring. What a strange thing that was...to receive those symbolic items of high school completion on the day we first began to understand that she may never finish high school. She had looked forward to receiving her letter jacket for a long time...and she actually only wore it a few times. Her purse is hanging from the other bedpost, with her driver's license and Hunter's Education card in the wallet inside.
Her bedroom walls are painted a dark red color...the room was this color when we bought the house, and she immediately chose this room as her own. Her bedspread is white and black, as you can see in the picture, and there is a black shag rug on her floor. The rug was necessary to cover up the Nike Swoosh that the former owners had painted on the floor...who paints a Nike Swoosh on a wood floor? We didn't know it was there until we moved into the house...they, of course, had it covered up with a rug.
To my left, hanging on Hannah's wall, is a framed poster of downtown El Dorado..."Arkansas' Original Boomtown". Of all the places we've lived, El Dorado was Hannah's favorite. She had such good friends there, and she absolutely loved that place!
Hannah's room has the best view in the house. We live in the country, on a hillside, and from here, when I look out the window, all I see is trees blowing in the breeze. Some of those trees we planted the year we moved into this house, and they have really grown over the past summer. For some reason, it makes me sad that I can't show Hannah how much taller they are now than they were in February.
On the floor beside her dresser, in a stand, is a porcelain doll which once belonged to Hannah's great grandmother, Frankie Stahl Owens. Hannah adored her "Grandma Frankie", who went to Heaven in July 2008, and during the last days of her illness, she was comforted by the fact that Grandma Frankie would be waiting to greet her when she got there.
Her dresser has a bunch of stuff on top of it...a funny little trombone player that her Aunt Sarah gave her back when she played the trombone in 7th grade; a picture of her and former American Idol contestant Ace Young; the wide headband she wore every day to cover up the bald patches from radiation; a stuffed animal she received from Arkansas Children's Hospital when she had to get platelets on Christmas Eve; a picture of the high school choir wearing their Alice in Wonderland T-shirts--a performance that she did not get to participate in due to low blood counts; an All-Region Choir patch; her sunglasses; some silk flowers sent by her good friend Paige after she died; and a picture of her and her friend Brittany.
To my right is what we jokingly called her "Wall of Fame". Hannah was a highly motivated student and was extremely proud of her academic achievements. On this wall is a group of plaques (shown below) which include the following: "Outstanding Student in Social Studies, Algebra I, and Career Orientation--2006"; "Outstanding Student in Health & Physical Science--2007"; and "Outstanding Student in Spanish I, World History, and Pre-AP Biology--2008". She also has a plaque for "Miss Congeniality" in the Miss Magnet Cove pagent in 2007; and the ones she was most proud of because they were voted on by the teachers..."Outstanding Freshman Student MCHS 2007" and "Outstanding Sophomore Student MCHS 2008". Her nightstand is right beside her bed, and the drawers are full of letters from her friend Brittany (yes, Brittany, she kept them all!). I always thought it was neat that they sent letters to each other, even in this day of email, Facebook, and texting. She also has a bunch of notes in there from her youth group meetings. She has a hand-woven container from Indonesia (given to her by her aunt and uncle) in there that is full of money. On top of her nightstand is her Bible and a copy of "My Utmost for His Highest" by Oswald Chambers. There's also a picture of her and her Sullivan cousins, and a picture of her and her Magnet Cove friends. Her bulletin board is right above that, and it is full of pictures...church camp, Odyssey of the Mind, her 4th grade class, her cousin Julia, and two strips of pictures of her and her friends and one strip of pictures of her and Bethany from those photo machines at the mall. There's also a Valentine's Day note from Brittany, a couple of American Idol concert ticket stubs, her number from the Miss MCHS pageant, and a sticker that says, "He Died For You".
One of these days, we're going to have to do something with all of these things. How do you do that, though? We've discussed making something special out of this room...a quiet, peaceful, inviting kind of room, a place where you can study your Bible, or spend some time with the Lord. I'm ready to open the shades, let the sun shine in, and keep the door of this room open again. But I'm not sure how to do it yet...we're still waiting for God's timing.