I had a best friend. Her name was Hannah.

Hannah and I met on the playground at the River City Public park. As the years went on, I got to know the quirks and tics that made up the whole mosaic of Hannah Wallace. She favored apple juice over orange juice, knew every word to Wannabe by the Spice Girls, and if her bedtime was 8 o’clock, she wouldn’t actually be in bed until 8:05. She was rebellious like that.

She was ambitious, loyal, a listener, a caretaker, and she wasn’t held down by words like can’t or shouldn’t. She wanted to be a veterinarian after her cat Timothy died and she fought for thirty minutes to bring his limp body back to life like she was Jesus and he was Lazarus. She was a cheerleader but she didn’t like the big bows that cheerleaders were required to wear. She peed her pants one time after watching a video of a cat dancing to Single Ladies by Beyonce. We were fifteen.

Hannah was crushing on a guy named Jake. I remember watching him walk her to her locker and the surge of sparks in my veins when he kissed her cheek could have made the lightbulbs in the hallway shatter and the electricity hum to a halt. Her wins were my wins.

Hannah moved in the eleventh grade because her dad got a new job. I cried for three solid days, but that never stopped our nightly phone calls and discussions about the Bachelor or the latest episode of Grey’s Anatomy.

Hannah went to her new school one day and didn’t come out of it.

You’re lucky to be alive. Sitting in these seats, in the not so cheap cap and gowns that you wear. A lot of kids your age don’t even make it to those seats. Be grateful. Unfortunately, until we do something, more kids won’t make it to these seats.