Life is too short: Holding on to what you’ve got

On Nov. 3, two simple words shattered my life: “Olivia died.” They were the only two words in the body of an e-mail with the subject line titled “crying” from Alicia, Olivia’s little sister.

For the last four and a half years, I have been blessed to have been a special part of the Nolley family as their nanny. At the end of my senior year of high school, my little girls lost their father unexpectedly. I spent almost three days a week with the girls that summer. I felt so honored to have them welcome me into their lives and consequently, I grew to love them dearly that summer.

In November of 2009, Olivia, at the age of 10, was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor that would paralyze her from the shoulders down. I spent my winter break in Dallas at the children’s hospital visiting her every chance I had, and sometimes even staying awake all night at the hospital in order for Olivia’s mother to get some much needed sleep.

Olivia was able to go home in February. Things were beginning to look very hopeful until August, when Olivia’s health declined and the tumor began growing again after not responding to chemotherapy.

I knew, as did Olivia, this meant that every day for my little angel was numbered. Then, on Nov. 3, Olivia joined the many angels, including her father, in the sky. I have learned from a little 11-year-old girl that small, petty things in life do not matter. Living each day to the fullest and not letting any opportunity pass by for you to show love for those you care about is the most fulfilling way to live life.

Olivia understood the reality of death. She understood every minute counted and she took full advantage of every opportunity to smile, be positive and encourage others. She showed bravery and gave an example of life to strive after.

The impact people can have on each other’s lives is not limited to wisdom, age or experience. Olivia was 11 years old, and she changed my life forever.

Those who knew Olivia, and even those who did not, are inspired by her story. She will never be forgotten. Neither will the lessons learned from her life. So hug your parents a little tighter, kiss your lover more passionately than normal, take time to listen to others every day, walk slower, breath deeper, complain less and smile more than you think necessary. Our days are numbered. Do not let time slip from your fingers. Olivia didn’t. I know I won’t anymore.

Jenny Hamilton is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism and sports administration. She may be contacted at