Here's Hannah's speech in its entirety:
It takes a long time to lose someone. They're not ripped from your hands as much as they slowly deteriorate between your fingers. Kind of like sand. And there is this stunningly awful moment when you look down at the palm of your hands and it hits you. They're gone. Almost imperceptibly they've turned to fragments and have been swept away by the wind. You don't as much come to accept that they're gone as you learn how to live with the void.
And sometimes it feels surreal to me. How something can be so perfectly imperfect. How something can simultaneously give you so much and take so much away from you.
But the truth is that loving, really loving, comes with a cost. And that is loss. And grief. And sadness. And heartbreak. It's a cost that we never think we are going to have to pay. But when we do feel that gut-wrenching ache, like I'll never be the same again, we also become aware of how much it matters that we have loved, that its worth is priceless. And it's a price worth paying.
I read something by Helen Keller which said, “The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen nor even touched but just felt in the heart.” So maybe bereavement is the wrong word. You can only lose the things you never had to begin with. If you have loved, then you have love, it's yours forever. Love can't be stolen or taken from you. It is the thing that lives on. I think the hardest part is the missing. And by missing, I mean what we missed out on. That we can no longer share our lives with the peoeple we care about most. Our missing speaks less about what we lost than it does speak of what we loved. And that nothing was stolen, really, because the love is still there.
A wound hurts, and a scar can be ugly. But it draws attention to a body part that would have otherwise gone unnoticed. The memory of someone can be as physically engrained in us as any burn or wound.
Losing Richard broke me. An awful horrible irreparable crack split me in two. At 22, I realized that I had experienced the best and worst moment of my life. I was given a world when I stood next to my mom and Richard at the alter of Brick Church, and that same world was ripped away from me when I stood at that same altar feet away from his coffin. And people say time heals all wounds, but it doesn't. It just doesn't. I'll always feel like something is missing. Everything good and every success I achieve is colored by his absence. And that sounds very sad and feels very sad to say, but isn't it also kind of beautiful?That you can love someone so much that they change you forever? That I can stand here today and say that I am who I am because of who he was? Death is painful, death is difficult, but death gives boundaries to life. It gives love a shape and a form. It gives meaning to our experiences. I always say, if a song didnt have an ending, it would just be noise. And ending gives a moment meaning. So today, in the words of Dr. Seuss (and it's sois not Seuss for the record) we can take this moment not to cry because it's over, but smile because it happened.