To say Hannah lived a vivid life would be an understatement. "Impactful" is what comes to mind for me. She had an impact on the lives of everyone she came in contact with... Even in death, she has touched the lives of so many. I owe her mine. Because of her, I made some decisions in my life to make myself a better person, husband and, most importantly, a better father. She gave me the strength and courage to pull myself out of a dark and lonely hole. On November 10, 2007, I made a promise to her... one that I still keep today... and will keep the rest of my life.
I look back on the time we had together and blessedly, have little regret. She was my "Mini Me." She was my buddy, but also my precious daughter. Our days started and ended the same every day. I am always up early, and she would soon follow and sit with me while I drank coffee and we watched cartoons. And then the question was always asked, " Is it a school day or a stay home day?" Each day that I picked her up from school she would see me and yell, "Daddy" and come running to me. This was my favorite part of the day, when I would pick Hannah and her little sister, Harper, up from daycare. No matter how bad my day had been, she and her sister always raised my spirits. She forced me to listen to the "Annie" soundtrack EVERY morning on the way to school so she could sing out the words, "The sun will come out, Tomorrow..."
Hannah had a sense of humor that was uncanny for a four-year-old as evidenced by an incident that took place during Christmas 2010. I gave her a piece of fudge and left the room. Ten minutes later, I heard some rattling around in the kitchen. I went to investigate and caught her with the bag of fudge in her hands. I could tell she had snarfed down a piece or two. I asked her what the heck she was doing... her response (without missing a beat) was, "Oh, I thought these were bananas!" I had to turn away to contain my laughter and smiles. When asked what she wanted most for Christmas by her teachers, her response was, "A talking dragon" or during Thanksgiving she was asked what she was most thankful for... Most children responded with answers like, "My family," or "My mommy." Hannah said she was thankful for CHICKEN! She didn't even like chicken.
Hannah was fearless. She always wanted to wrestle and would jump on me or run full speed to slam into me. She wanted to battle her buddy Cameron (who she referred to as Camera) for his hockey jersey one night when a friend and I were on "dad duty." Needless to say, I would not allow her to try her karate moves on him, but deep down, I was loving her competitive nature and feistiness.
She loved and protected her little sister, Harper. They played and argued on a daily basis, but Hannah would also take Harper by the hand when she was scared of the dark at night and tell her it was "okay" and that she was right there with her. That is what was the most endearing about Hannah - her compassion for others. She would always want to scratch my back or rub my beard when I "yay" down with her at bedtime. That compassion is really what her Foundation is built upon. Yes, we have a focus on window safety and education, but the core of the Foundation is compassion and helping children in need and generally giving back to the community.
Hannah touched more lives in four and a half years than most adults I know, including myself. I owe it to her to continue on with her gift. Whether it is donating money for a scholarship or charity, advocating for childhood safety or helping a family in need... Hannah's memory will live on through these gestures.
To my sweet girl Hannah, "I love you and miss you so... and I will see you again someday."