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I have such a distinct image of Hannah. She’s sitting on a bench, wearing salmon colored hiking shorts and a blue Cottonwood Gulch T-shirt, waiting with a young girl who had yet to be picked up from her two-week stay at the Gulch. It was the last day of her group and the girl’s parents were dreadfully late, leaving her to wander around with staff members and a few lone campers for the morning.

When I passed by, the two of them were playing a round of mancala. Hannah’s laughter and ease with this fifth grader was so rawly genuine. And, you could tell that nobody was more thrilled than the eleven-year-old, having clearly won the jackpot of time and attention from a beloved staff member. I watched the scene from afar and was moved, in a way that years later I still can’t describe. To be with a child so authentically does not come as commonly as we’d like to think. Hannah did it naturally, in a way that shone so bright.

Ever since, when asked what made me want to work with children and go into education I often describe this scene. I’m not sure people grasp what I’m getting at, but it makes clear sense to me. I’ll always think of Hannah that morning in the desert – her candor, her gentleness, and her light.

2 Replies to “– Marina Henke –”

  1. Marina, We have read hundreds of tributes and memories of our daughter Hannah since her death. Because of the sheer volume we have responded to very few as of yet. However, your description of Hannah’s interaction with the young camper touched us in a special way. This is a powerful affirmation of Hannah’s personal qualities that we knew so keenly. Reading this brought tears but deeply warmed our hearts. We are grateful that you have shared this with others and us. Blessing and love to you, Kathy and Brad

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