I can’t believe its been three years since we said “good bye.”
Imagine teardrops left uncried
From pain trapped inside
Waiting to escape
Through the windows of your eyes
‘Why won’t you let us out?’
The tears question the conscience
‘Relinquish your fears and doubtsand heal yourself in the process.’
The conscience told the tears
‘I know you really want me to cry
But if I release you from bondage,
In gaining your freedom you die.’
The tears gave it some thought
Before giving the conscience an answer
‘If crying brings you to triumph Then dying’s not such a disaster.’
-Ian E. Manuel
Relational capacity is a characteristic that is conventionally earned with maturity. However, on occasion, that rare person appears whose ability to love others exceeds their years on this earth. Indeed, if at times wisdom is bestowed beyond years, it is equally evident that love may exceed life. Courtney Marie Hamilton is an extraordinary example of love that exceeded labels. Love that extended beyond arbitrary boundaries. Love that leaves a legacy. Courtney loved her family, her friends, and through her quiet faith, she demonstrated her love for God in the way she lived and the deep reflection with which she practiced a unique piety. A piety that showed up in her ability to make everyone she met feel that they were loved. With Courtney, it was a gift of an inexhaustible variety.
With rare combination, Courtney both exuded love and commanded respect. Her love wasn’t trite, it was serious. It took care of business. Hers was a love that served others with excellence. A love that showed up on her face. It was difficult to catch Courtney without her signature smile. What a smile! A smile that would illuminate a room. Her metal acumen was equally as illuminating. For a season, as her college professor and debate coach, I was granted a front row seat to both her brains and her beauty. I remember that at one particular debate tournament, Courtney had earned her way into the final round. As she was preparing for that round, we disagreed on her planned strategy for that debate. After some discussion, she relented and went with my advice. She lost. I learned a lesson that day, never doubt Courtney’s instincts. I apologized for giving her bad coaching, but never once did she blame me or anyone else. She won with class, and lost with grace, and competed in every round. Her first year with us on the debate team, I was honored to present to her the “Rising Star” award. An award well deserved. Indeed, she is a bright shining star!
On the heels of her successful career as competitive collegiate debater, Courtney and I discussed the possibility of her attending graduate school. Once again, we disagreed. I was persuaded that conventional studies were the right path for Courtney, but Courtney knew better. I remember the respectful yet firm way she had about her, even when we disagreed, she had the winsome quality of never making it personal. She was always so respectful and so persuasive, and more often than not she was right. Much to the chagrin of those of us who found ourselves on the submissive end of her impeccable logic, Courtney was someone who would forge her own path. She would continue her education by serving her country.
I remember the last time we were privileged to be together, on a family vacation to Norfolk, Courtney chose to spend some time with us. Moments I will forever treasure. Courtney and I laughed together as we reminisced about our debate days, and I was so impressed by the woman she had become. I peppered her with questions about the exact nature of her military service, and she would slyly reply “that’s classified.” Through the years, Courtney and I shared messages, exchanged pictures, and stayed in touch. We discussed small things like LSU vs. Arkansas football rivalries and big things like God, Scripture, and the purpose of life. I continue to learn from Courtney and will forever be grateful for her investment in my life.
Courtney served all of us with excellence, and as was the case with most of what she accomplished, she never felt the need to flaunt herself. Her smile, her work, her life, were testimony enough of a life well lived. Hers was a life well invested. Her capacity to love others was without limit. She taught all of us that it is not the length of a life that counts, but rather, it is a life of love that ultimately matters. May we all learn and apply this lesson and by doing so continue the legacy of love that Courtney so powerfully exemplified.
Courtney was always willing to speak, so shall we honor her by speaking. Courtney was always willing to smile, so shall we honor her by smiling. Courtney served her country, and humanity. We will honor her by serving. Courtney loved her pets, we will honor her by loving and protecting our animal friends. Courtney loved to learn, she was always reading, listening, thinking, watching. We will continue to read, to think, to write, to learn. Courtney never withheld her love, we will honor her by continuing to love. This is the legacy of a life well lived. May we honor that legacy by weeping with one another, by holding one another tightly, and by loving and living brightly. Just as Courtney Marie continues to shine through us!
With love, Scot Loyd