Dearest Chana,

My tears are unstoppable, as I try to think of you in past tense. To imagine your warm, embracing smile, or your upbeat, giggling personality as a thing of the past. I can't.

Chana, when I say your name, I hear your cheerful chatter as I bump into you on Kingston Avenue. I hear your never-ending stream of compliments and your excited conversation, as if there were not a single dark star in your sky. There were no dark stars in your sky – but now, there is one in mine. There is a void, an emptiness that cannot be replaced. A spot that was once warmed by the light of your smile.

Chana, I think back to our year in seminary. I remember traveling around Yerushalayim and taking endless trips to the Kosel. It was always more fun with you around. I remember late night conversations and the warmth and care we always felt in your presence. You were everyone's good friend. No one ever had a bad word to say about you; there was not a single bad bone in your body. You were just pure goodness- full of life, warmth, and personality.

I remember the Shabbos we went away together. It was one of the most rich, meaningful Shabbosim I ever had. I realize now that it was your personality that colored it so.

Chana, they talk about your special touch. When I say the words, I simply shiver. It was all about your touch. You were always complimenting, you always invited, you always shared. You made everyone feel like your most special friend.

When you were first diagnosed, so many of us had no words. How would we ever comfort you? How could we show you that we cared, that we were thinking about you? But you hadn't changed. One of the first times I saw you after I heard the news, was when you suddenly walked into a friend's bridal shower. I must admit that all conversation stopped. What could we say to our most joyful friend, when she was being challenged by a diagnosis that made us shudder? But you didn't let us down. You asked us to let you share a thought, as you slowly began to read "A Conversation with G-d." You spoke about faith in the face of adversity; you spoke of strength in the face of challenge. You comforted us by letting us know that this was all G-d's plan and that we mustn't let ourselves be down. You comforted us instead of us comforting you. You were the pillar of strength you'd always been – just stronger.

Chana, I didn't think the sun would shine on Sunday morning. How could it, in a world without Chana? Our world has lost a pillar of light; we've lost a ray of warmth, a beam of strength. The world has lost a friend.

Chana, to think that you're up there in Heaven feels crazy. To think that you're down here in spirit is the least we can do to comfort ourselves. I feel like I can talk to you as I've always done. I know you hear my words and feel our pain. You always did.

Chana, saying that I miss you is an injustice. The world feels empty without you in it. We'll never forget you. Never.

An Aching Classmate