My name is Allison LaManna. This past week, a poem, entitled “The Dash” by Linda Ellis was introduced to me by our 2008 student council. To me, the poem explains and proves the individual fact that, in the words of Abraham Lincoln,
"It's not the years in your life that count. It's the life in your years."
The definition of friendship can be found in a dictionary or in a book, but I think that you can back me up when I say that those definitions do not do justice to the experience of having a true friend. I experienced this adventure with McKayla Geisinger, and believe me when I tell you that all of the lessons and experiences that I got from it were enough for a lifetime!
McKayla’s dash was short; too short. 13 years isn’t a lot of time. But the experiences, laughs, hugs, and pure happiness truly jam-packed into that little line pushed to its capacity.
In the poem that I just read, the last line is as follows.
‘…would you be proud of the things you say about how you spent your dash?’
I am positive that if McKayla heard the various reflections people have made about her life and what an amazing person she was, she would be immensely proud.
McKayla loved life in general. The side of her that I saw at school every day, smiling and laughing, seemed to give the impression that no matter what she was doing, she was simply loving life, no matter what.
McKayla enjoyed to care for her goats. She loved them so much! I remember her showing me pictures of her goats, and she would laugh and snicker the entire time.
Television and movies were what we mainly revolved around at her many sleepovers and parties. We would watch classic movies, like ‘The Lost Boys’ and ‘Stand by Me’. Horror movies like the ‘Halloween’ series and ‘Hide and Seek’ were quite enjoyable, but only because McKayla would make sure to tell me when to put the pillow in front of my face, to keep myself from screaming, and ruining the experience. Television shows like ‘CSI: Crime Scene Investigation’ and ‘The Fresh Prince of Bell Air’ were the time-to-go-to-bed-because-its-five-in-the-morning shows, which I enjoyed every sleepless night I spent in the welcoming Geisinger household.
Her birthday parties always took place in the warm month of June, since it would be very difficult to throw a pool party in her birth month of December.
Sadly, McKayla and I weren’t close friends until the middle of our third grade year at MontVernonVillageSchool, or MVVS. But, I still remember the first day we met.
A new first grader to MVVS came up to me on the playground. He said very politely, “Do you want to play with me?”
One thing led to another, and soon, we were playing in the sand. Our very, complex game consisted of me digging a hole and burying a rock inside. My new friends job? To find the rock. Simple right? Well, I had gotten so into our intense game play, that it took me a while to notice the small blonde girl standing next to the tree planted a few feet away.
Her question for me was short and sweet.
“Can I play?”
Now, I’ll have to admit that McKayla and I didn’t exactly become instant friends and click, like in the movies. We were acquaintances throughout the beginning of our third grade year, and after a few weeks of being gym partners and eating lunch together, we were inseparable. I hope some day to see that little boy again, because he has no idea how much he’s helped me.
McKayla liked to travel. She would tell me of various placed she’d been, some being WashingtonDC and Texas. I remember sending her emails before she would leave for a trip.
‘Good luck! Have fun!’ I’d say.
McKayla was very athletic. She loved playing sports, and proving herself. I played various sports with her, not on teams, but for fun, like soccer, basketball, softball, and swimming, and she was good. She was competitive, and took every game seriously. She would always try to improve her form, her playing habits. I feel that this made her more disciplined; made her be a better person.
I don’t think that I can stress enough what a good person McKayla was. Many of you knew her the way I knew her. She was a genuine person. Her heart was made of pure gold. She would care for others, not herself, and only asked what you wanted to do, refusing to make a choice.
The reason I’m here, other than to tell you about McKayla, is to present to you a bench. A bench in memory of McKayla Geisinger is being donated to the school from the student council, to make sure that McKayla’s life is not forgotten for AmherstMiddle School’s many years to come.
I’d like to end my speech with a quote that to me, expresses how we should all feel about the death of McKayla. This is my favorite quote, and it’s from no other than Doctor Seuss.
“Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.”
And that’s what I’ll do. I’ll smile when I think of McKayla, because the dash between those two numbers represents happiness. It shows that even though your existence on earth is short, the years are filled with laughter, smiles, kindness, and are truly beautiful.