Today, we honor her. Tiffany Marie Hamby. As I think back, I am reminded of her contagious laugh and desire to make people smile. Her hazel eyes pressed with compassion and adventure was in her blood. Growing up, Tiffany would imagine the backyard to be a scene from Indiana Jones. She was fearless, a go-getter and speaking as her sister, looked to have a beautifully rich life. In her eighteenth year, following high school graduation, she left Texas for the East Coast, to start at Hollins University. Her four years under the pines of Virginia were full; she played soccer and represented the student body as class president. On her graduation day, nearly fifteen years ago, Tiffany was honored as she walked the stage to receive the Annie Terrill Bushnell Award. It was stated:
“She was the finest spirit of leadership, and had an unfailing ear to hear people out, quietly, patiently and thoughtfully. She impressed us with integrity, persistence and good work.”
What words, what truth! Her life was full of good work. She taught English in Ghana, Africa. She was a peaceful activist, and stood for what she believed in. She worked for Teach for America, and enjoyed it. The girl brought students from a 3rd grade reading level, to a 6th grade level in under a year! Tiffany taught the kids by introducing them to a character that was misunderstood, mistreated, and orphaned. Can you guess who? Non-other than Harry Potter. Our mother shared, Tiffany worked to get each student their own copy of the coveted narration. Scouring used book stores, and asking others to do the same.
She rode the waves of the ocean and traveled the world: Greece, Hawaii, Fiji, Italy, Bali. She ended her life in Costa Rica. From the outside she seemed bright, but on the inside, she was engulfed in darkness. She is wildly missed. A friend recently noted, “Tiffany taught me to turn compassion into action.” And that is a note we’ll end on. Let it stir in you, let it rise. Go forth and please, love well.