Usually, April Fools day is a day full of pranks and silliness; however, this was not the case one year. April 1st, 2009. I woke up that morning and went over to my friend Amanda’s dorm to put some final touches on our bible study plan for the night. Amanda and I led a group of 5 girls every Wednesday night, and this Wednesday was to be no different. When we finished planning, I walked over to the downstairs Colonnades to have lunch with my friend Wendy. During lunch my phone rang and it was Amanda. I remember thinking that she probably just had a question about bible study planning and that would call her back later. But then she called again. And again. And so by the 4th call, I finally answered the phone, somewhat annoyed that she wouldn’t stop calling. I could immediately tell by the tone of her voice that something was wrong, but my first thought was that it was going to be an April Fools Day prank. I very clearly remember the words that I heard next. “Brooke. I need to tell you something. Milena died. Her mom just called. She’s gone.” I couldn’t believe it. This had to have been the worst April Fools joke to ever exist. Only it wasn’t a joke. Milena Alvarez died on April 1st, 2009 after a long battle with cancer. Milena was one of the freshman girls in the Bible study that I led. The next few hours were a blur. I know I walked back to the dorm, only to find the other girls in the Bible study all gathered around crying. I know I cried in the arms of my friends. I know I walked around campus alone, letting the shock wear off. I know me and Amanda tried to hold it together for the other girls in the Bible study. And I know I went to the vigil that night to listen to stories of how Milena impacted others lives. The world lost an amazing, sweet, hilarious, super sassy, brave fighter that day. So to honor her memory, here are some things that I learned in the short time I knew Milena:
1. Find a reason to smile, no matter what the situation.
2. No one’s life is perfect, and there’s nothing you can do about it.
3. Accept life’s challenges as they come.
4. Don’t spend too much time worrying about the future. We aren’t guaranteed a tomorrow.
5. "If we all threw our problems into a pile and saw everyone else's, we'd quickly grab ours back"
6. If you have to go pee, go pee. It’s better than peeing your pants.
7. Sympathy only gets you so far. Strength gets you farther.
8. You don’t need hair to be beautiful. A bright smile is much more gorgeous.
9. Sarcasm is an art form
10. It’s okay to not be okay. Sometime we need our friends and family.
11. People are kind and willing to step up in times of need.
I will never forget Milena’s laugh, the way she would throw her head back and laugh loudly. I will never forget her sarcasm and great sense of humor. I will never forget our bowling trips and Bible studies and how she handled herself with such strength and class, even in the face of a challenge. So Milena, Hey girl, heyyyy! You are missed. Gone, but never forgotten.