Thursday, May 23, 2013

A Toast to Hannah

Communicating the loss of a loved one is never easy. It is best done in person but words alone can also provide light in a difficult time. With deep sadness I have to send on news about the death of our beloved family member Hannah Johnson. Hannah passed away Sunday night in a traffic accident, and her husband Matt is fighting for his life in a hospital in Madison, Wisconsin. (Update on Hannah's Husband Matt: Matt is coherent, awake, conversant and stood up today!!)

Hannah believed deeply that all are created equal and that we all deserve an equal share of human rights. Hannah worked tirelessly for marriage equality in California and New Jersey. 

Pictured in this New York Times photo from 2009 is my courageous family member Hannah Johnson tearing up as she applauds a New Jersey Senate committee vote on a bill to legalize gay marriage. 
The struggle continues in New Jersey and in California
photo by Richard Perry / New York Times

Troy Stevenson, the director of Garden State Equality, wrote about Hannah's passing:

"This is a horrible loss for our organization, our movement, and many of us personally. The last time I spoke to Hannah was just over a year ago, on the day we passed marriage equality. She was my first call. I thanked her for all the work she and her team put in and we cried together about finally getting the votes we had fought so hard for. She told me then how much all of you meant to her, and how the work she did in New Jersey was the most important work she had ever done... That is the effect you had on her, she wanted nothing more than to bring equality to each of you, and to all of New Jersey. In the coming days, we will organize a memorial to celebrate Hannah’s life, and we will share those details when we have them. For now, I think it is important that we lean on each other for support. Some of you may not have known Hannah, but your fellow Garden State Equality members did, and trust me, she was one of the most amazing souls I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. Those who didn’t know her would have loved her if you had, and those that did will love her forever...
As for me, I will never forget her; I will fight even harder in her memory, and I know that each of you will do the same. So, remember, when we win the freedom to marry, and we will win very soon, the first toast goes to Hannah."

For me, I am reminded by Hannah's passing to remember that we are called to take care of each other. Life is precious. Enjoy every second. 
And I know, with Hannah in mind, that I will fight for LGBTQ equality and human rights for all until the end of my days.
As an enlightened sage recently said to me, " Don't waste a single fucking moment of your life."


A celebration of Hannah's life will be held Saturday, May 25, 2013 at the First Unitarian Society of Madison, 900 University Bay Drive, Madison, WI, 53705. 
Hannah's family will be there at 4:00 to welcome friends and family. The service will begin at 5:00. Fellowship and light refreshments will follow the service.

The family is asking that in lieu of flowers, memorials be directed to "Hannah's Fund for Matt" 
at Greenwood's State Bank, 117 No. Main St, Lake Mills, WI, 53551.

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