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I Would Live For You - Hanna Wilt A Young Poet’s Walk Through Grief And Acceptance Of Her Terminal Cancer Diagnosis
February of 2022, Hanna Wilt ‘18 went home to be with the Lord after battling Mesothelioma for years prior. Even before her battle with cancer, she was writing, and Hanna loved to write for as long as people can remember. During her diagnosis, she would write and share her work with her sister, Kate Kiesel, something the two of them had been doing since they first started creating art. Working in tandem, they decided to piece together these different works and make a book. A year after her death, I Would Live For You: A Young Poet’s Walk Through Grief And Acceptance Of Her Terminal Cancer Diagnosis released on February 14, 2023, making Hanna’s dream of publishing come true.
Despite the challenges with her health that kept resurfacing, Hanna graduated from Covenant College in 2018 with a degree in Interdisciplinary Studies focusing on Art, Psychology, and Biology, and she was able to work as a studio assistant and crossfit coach in Tennessee. Dr. Kelly Kapic became a close supporter of her journey and said, “God was not a theory or a nice answer, but he was her comfort—that was not because there was never any conflict or hard questions between them, but because she discovered just how faithful he was even in the midst of deep heartache, pain, and uncertainty. But she never made her faith cheap or cliche—she was appropriately allergic to that stuff.”
Unfortunately, as her health declined even more, she moved back to her hometown to be with her family where she would tell people her story through poetry. Her poetry is fitting to any and all of us who live in this fallen world where life is fragile and breaks our heart in many ways as we walk towards Heaven. Kate and Hanna’s goal for the book was, according to Kate, “to have it readily available for those in palliative care, for death workers and people in the business of grief; but also, this collection is for everyone—as we all experience suffering. My hope is that people who are not sick will also be open and curious to enter into my sister's story—because her words carry an anointing only made possible by the fire she went through with Jesus by her side.” This book serves as an encouragement for both the mourning and the one that is being mourned over, past or present. Hanna had visions, and Kate was able to make those visions come to life.
The art of the book is painted by Michael Johnson, a close friend of Kate. He was able to make Hanna’s love for cherry blossoms and Japanese culture come to life for the perfect cover. For Kate, cherry blossoms are symbolic of Hanna, as they “have a very short blooming season but are some of the most beautiful flowering trees alive.” Many people close to Hanna have said that she had a heart of gold that loved the Lord. She opened up her life so that people going through similar situations may feel comforted in knowing that they are not alone. “A work of art is not complete until it is shared with someone, inviting the viewer to connect with and have a response to the piece,” says Kate in the foreword to the book. If anyone is struggling with grief or health uncertainties or just wants to connect further with Hanna and her family, you can purchase the book here.