With her permission, I'd like to share the memoir Bethany wrote this week for her tenth grade Pre-AP English class:
My whole life was completely turned upside down February 26, 2009. This was the day that my best friend and sister went to an amazing place with the name of Heaven. This memoir is a story of hope, strength, and life-changing heartache. Through this difficult journey I have had to grow up immensely. Even though there will always be a hole inside of my heart, I wouldn’t change the journey I had with my sister Hannah for the world.
Before my sister got sick, my whole family was happy all the time. I have two outstanding parents named Jill and Brad who care for me very much. My sister Hannah and I were not only sisters, we were best friends. I told her everything about me and she did the same. She was the oldest, being 3 years old when I was born; welcoming me with a stuffed animal bear. We were meant to be sisters. When we got older we were still very close. Every time we were able to hang out together, we always did. Hannah and I used to get into trouble at the dinner table, usually it was laughing during a prayer or something and, we would be sent to our rooms every single time. What our parents didn’t know (but later found out) was that there was an air vent in each of our rooms so we could talk to each other and laugh about how dumb it was that we got in trouble! I remember when I was probably 6 or 7 Hannah always would pay me to crawl in bed with her at night and we would talk about how each other’s day went. She used to yell at me through those little air vents to get in her room. As I grew up a little I realized that I actually wanted to sleep with her and talk nonstop all night, so she gladly quit paying me. When I was finally about to be in high school with my big sister she got sick with an incredibly deadly cancer in her brain. No one saw it coming.
While she was sick we were still always there for each other. I was 13 through the whole illness so it impacted me remarkably with school, sports, and my friend life. Even through this devastating year, Hannah and I still had some awesome times sharing good old memories in bed together. I struggled seeing my sister deal with pain and slowly getting worse over time. Hannah was a very strong girl and I strive to be like her every day. Even when Hannah was really sick and hurting she never complained or asked “why me.” Hannah was a very strong Christian; she was saved when she was eight years old, she presented strong faith each day of her illness. The great God we love and so dearly need was there with my family and me along this unwanted path. I went through many difficult experiences that I believe no one should have to encounter, but the hardest thing for me was to lie there with my sister in my arms as she died without being able to do anything about it.
We were in the hospital for practically a year. When Hannah let go to spend eternity with her Father in Heaven is when she handed me the torch to be strong and courageous just as she was. I will never forget the last thing she said to me, or to anyone. I was sitting beside her hospice bed crying, when she opened her beautiful eyes and looked up to me and with her weak voice she whispered “I love you.” It is a constant struggle for me to walk through life without seeing her bright smile throughout the day, but with God by my side and with the memories we shared I get through life’s toughest situations. When she took her last breath, I took my first, starting a new life without my big sister by my side.