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I first met Hannah in 2013 at Cottonwood Gulch. She was fresh out of college and so beyond her years in what she offered to that summer community. Hannah was also at my wedding in 2016. She had just moved to New Mexico from Alaska. I remember her looking stunning in her wedding attire while simultaneously wrangling her sweet pup, Gus.

For the last few weeks I have been revisiting a memory of Hannah from the summer of 2018 that will always live with me. A group of us were camping at Wild Rivers near Questa, NM. We were right on the rim of the Rio Grande Gorge, overlooking the vast mesa stretching out across northern New Mexico. Hannah and Sophie arrived after dark, and we all knew it was them by the sounds of the loud muffler and three sets of footsteps on the gravel (Hannah, Sophie, and Gus). We spent three days camped out above the gorge, watching bighorn sheep, hiking down to swim in the Rio, and eating dinner by lantern. 

Hannah and Gus were such a joyful presence. We drank beer, talked late into the night, sang together, and slept under the stars. The day we left, I drove back to Albuquerque with Hannah and Gus. The ride was a task in itself. We strung up a towel over a busted window in Hannah’s car to keep the wind out as we roared our way down Highway 68 through Taos, Embudo, Velarde, Española, and Pojoaque. We listened to music, and we talked a lot. We stopped in Pilar to swim in the Rio Grande again. One more dip to take the edge off the hot July afternoon. 

I was pregnant at the time, though I hadn’t told anyone, and I was starving as we made our way through Tesuque. I asked Hannah if she minded stopping at the Burger King in Santa Fe so we could get gas and so I could get a giant chocolate milkshake. She was down, no questions asked. We made our way down I-25 into Albuquerque sipping our ice cream treats. I made it home from Hannah’s 8th Street house, the site of many Gulch reunions and celebrations. I remember feeling grateful for the drive and the time spent with Hannah. And for the ease and laughter she brought. For Gus’s constant snuffling in the ear of whoever was driving. For the milkshake. For the time on the Gorge and in the river. I can only imagine the number of moments like this Hannah effortlessly created with the people around her. We love you, Hannah. May you be at peace. 

photos courtesy of Ellen Madden


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