A Tribute To My Friend Haneen

She begins to read me a poem she wrote about sadness. Her words float through my head as I stare up at the building towering above us. The windows of the apartments lined up the walls, all of them dark or closed by curtains – except for one on the fifth floor. It was lit and there was a family eating dinner. They sat around the table, laughed and told stories of old memories they experienced together. The kids, hearing it for the first time, were entranced in the life their family had before them. One boy, the closest to the window, turned around and looked out. He looked at the pool then moved his attention to me. I stopped breathing. I’m not sure why, but I did. He lifted his hand up as a greeting, I lifted mine back. He turned back around after a second and once again became entranced in the old memories he didn’t share, forgetting me in an instant.

Her voice brings me back out of the trance, speaking of sadness like a person she was in a toxic and abusive relationship with.

That’s how we communicate, through words of sadness. Perhaps that’s why we are such good friends. I mean, if two human beings are comfortable enough to share everything they think and feel in their crowded minds, then how can they not be close? The mind can be a dangerous place to explore.

Her name is Haneen, and she is the kindest person I have ever met. We are so alike and so close that we often call ourselves soul sisters. We think that if there was one predetermined act of fate in this world, it was that we were meant to become friends.

Haneen and I at Marion Square. (Alexandra Smith)

The impact she has made on my very short life of 18 years, is extraordinarily grand. Haneen is the bravest person I know. You can see it in her eyes — the pain she feels, the adversity she has faced, the strength she has gained. Everything can be seen through those windows, like the windows of the boy in the apartment. But unless you choose to wipe away the fog, you won’t be able to see inside everything she is trying so hard to hide.

I did – I chose to look, and she did the same.

She has struggled with anxiety and depression and I have helped her through writing. I introduced her to the power of journaling. Journaling is a way for you to let all your pain and emotions out onto paper, and so there it lays, symbolically in black blood — a physical manifestation of your mind.

Although I have been by her side, she too has helped me more than she could ever possibly know. There are no words to describe how extremely grateful I am to have her in my life. Through our jam sessions in Lamar (her car), to our late night talks, to our downtown adventures, to waking her up at 1 in the morning to cry about a nightmare, to her simply listening to anything I have to say about the world and the people in it, Haneen is there for me as I am there for her, and I am forever grateful.

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