Sunday, May 15, 2011

In Memory of a Dear Friend

As I'm not going to have internet access on Sunday, I'm scheduling this post ahead of time. So for me, today is Friday, May 13.

I woke up this morning not feeling like myself. Something felt off, or maybe something was missing. Anyway, I went along with my morning routine of getting kids ready for school and driving 6 4 year-olds (yes, 6!) to preschool. Then I emailed a dear friend of mine, Kristen Harmel, who I've known online and through her books since 2007. I finally got to meet her face-to-face (or maybe her-face-to-my-chin because she's adorably teensy) at RWA Nationals in Orlando (where she lives) last summer.

Kristin and I met in an unusual way. It was because an ambitious, quirky, bright, beautiful, gracious, book-loving (I could go on and on) fifteen year-old, Anna, thought we needed to know each other. She introduced the two of us via MySpace and sent us signed books of each other's. Anna wasn't your typical fifteen year-old. She couldn't speak (no voice), but she made up for it by writing beautiful, tragic, magical poetry. She loved to read and review books. And whenever one of Kristin's or my books came out, she made a huge deal out of it, sending party favors, buying and mailing it to all of her friends, and priding herself in being one of the very first to review it online. I'll never forget the day she volunteered to be my assistant. She had business cards made and everything! If you're a blogger, you might remember her contacting you to see if you wanted to review Lifted. I can't even imagine how long that must have taken her, because her hands were very shaky and she had a hard time typing.

You see, Anna was very sick. In fact, she was told she wouldn't live past the age of 15. Anna proved those doctors wrong. She lived twelve days past her 19th birthday. Which is miraculous, is it not? As her sister put it, Anna rejoiced every morning she was still here with us.

Two days before Anna died, she wrote this poem:

I dream that the world will know my name.
Don't tell me if I'm dying
'cause I don't want to know,
If I can't see the sun
maybe I should go.

As soon as we heard Anna had passed away, Kristin and I talked on the phone. Anna was such an important part of both of our lives (I know she touched Tina's and Marley's lives as well, to name a couple you might know) and what's more, my inbox and Facebook messages are filling up with stories about Anna and how she brought people together. Would Kristin Harmel and I have met had Anna not insisted? Possibly. But as Kristin put it, "What a lovely gift that was, from her to us. Now, she'll always be alive in our friendship."

In loving memory of Anna Haze, May 1, 1992-May 13, 2011. xoxo


TinaFerraro said...

Wendy, thank you so much for this tribute to Anna, who will be remembered forever, and so badly missed.

My own memories of her include her deep concern for my welfare and that of my family during the Station Fire. She had a deep capacity to care for others.

Thanks, too, for printing that touching poem.

Janie Emaus said...

What a beautiful tribute.

Anonymous said...

Im sorry to say that it seems the words to that poem are not original- they are the words to a song called Angels On The Moon by Thriving Ivory.

Wendy Toliver said...

Oops, my bad. I should have written "posted this poem" instead of "wrote this poem." I just assumed she'd actually written it but she never claimed to have written it. Sorry for the misunderstanding. But anyway, those lyrics obviously captured what she was feeling at that moment in her life and that is the point.

TinaFerraro said...

Thanks, Anonymous. Whether Anna wrote that poem or not, what touched me the most was "I dream that the world will know my name," for I feel that many do and through many of us, her name will live on...

Anonymous said...

Your right, the words are still amazing. I can certainly understand her feeling that way.

Caelan said...

So sorry for the loss of such a great soul, and I wish I had the honor to meet her. This was a beautiful tribute, and she is writing the most beautiful stories, and telling the most beautiful tales, to continue to touch all the lost lives up in Heaven.
God Bless,

Ricki Schultz said...

So sorry, Wendy.

Heather Davis said...

Wow, she really made such an impact on others' lives. I'm sorry for the loss, Wendy.