On losing my friend

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“To be her friend was like being the luckiest person in the world.” NeedPix

A vibrant spirit with a smile that could light up a room

By Paige Hamann, Contributor

A special friend of mine taught me that if you hold someone’s hand and squeeze it three times, it means “I love you.” In fact, I am not afraid of squeezing hands or letting others know I love them thanks to her.

Tori had the most vibrant personality out of anyone I have ever met. Her ability to laugh at herself made others feel so comfortable, and her contagious laugh often resulted in sore cheeks and tear-filled eyes. To be her friend was like being the luckiest person in the world – yet her friendship was not rare. Tori made an effort to befriend as many people as she could, including each one of her teammates. This is how I was fortunate enough to be around her.

Being on the basketball court with Tori was incredible. Her constant encouragement made everyone feel like they belong and that they were good enough to be there. She did not make you feel less than her, even though she was ridiculously talented and had an incredibly strong work ethic. Any team would be lucky to have her.

Losing Tori to suicide was one of the most heartbreaking experiences I have ever had. Not only did I lose a bright light in my life, but as a young girl suffering from severe depression, losing this incredibly strong soul made the idea of taking my own life seem even more plausible. In fact, Tori was the first person I confided in regarding my mental health, and she did not make me feel alone or ashamed.

Tori took her own life when I was in the deepest part of my depression, and I could not fathom living if someone as strong as Tori could not bear life. Nearly two months after Tori’s passing, I was about to attempt suicide, but instead chose to reach out to a coach in that vulnerable moment.

Since that wakeup call in July, 2017, I have completely changed my life. With the help of my counsellor, medication, and my family, I was able to fall in love with life again. Of course, it was not an easy endeavour, but I knew that Tori wanted me to be happy.

Although I made a positive change in my own life, I knew that I had to do something to make sure that no one ever felt as alone as Tori and I did. I organized a fundraiser that raised over $5000, and have shared my story at three large events.

The support I have received is amazing, but I know I can do more. I know there are people that need people like Tori, and I want to be that for them.

Every day I miss Tori and am thankful to have known her. I just wish I could squeeze her hand three more times. She taught me to always squeeze a hand three times, because one day that hand might no longer be there to hold. So, I encourage you to find a hand and squeeze it tight.

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