Editorial: Remembering Natalie HIll

Many of us remember our friend and classmate Natalie Hill from as early as kindergarten. Her funny but determined attitude impacted not only Marshfield High School, but the entire town of Coos Bay. As many of us grew up with Natalie, we shared common stories that filled our hearts with warm memories of the girl who brought our community together.
In fourth grade, multiple girls from the class of 2014 were on Natalie’s basketball team. The team had a tradition that before practice, the girls would line up on the half court line and compare “battle wounds.” Natalie would always point to her bruises with a huge smile on her face; she was so proud of the purple trophies covering her knees. Ten years later, she had bruises, but they were not from basketball. Osteosarcoma cancer was taking over her body. And despite the blackened splotches across her chest, she still wore that smile.

Natalie was diagnosed with cancer the summer before her freshman year. She battled for the next three and a half years, losing both a leg and a lung. Gradually, Natalie’s body grew weaker, but her heart grew stronger. A few weeks before Natalie died on Oct. 30, she posted on her Facebook page, Natalie Hill Updates, “I’ve been fighting for over three years now. And despite my current condition, I’m still going to fight. I’m not giving up.” You see, cancer did not defeat Natalie. It may have consumed her body, but it never came close to reaching her heart.

When Natalie left us, it felt as if she took all the happiness out of this world with her. But as we remember her life, many of us realize that joy was not from the world, but from her. Natalie radiated joy. It poured from every ounce of her body. She could make anyone smile and strived to do so. Whether it was cracking a lame joke, gossiping about the cute boy across the room, or laughing ridiculously at something, she experienced this world in ways many of us never have; with an optimistic outlook and a gentle, contagious attitude. While her last weeks on this Earth were a struggle, her positive demeanor influenced this community for the better.

This holiday season, as we celebrate with family and friends, we remember the lives of those who should be here with us. However, instead of dwelling upon their absence, we must be thankful for the life they gave us.  The seniors on the staff of The Marshfield Times created a list in remembrance of Natalie Hill. Below, is some of what we believe are the most important lessons Natalie taught us.

  1. Natalie never let anything or anyone bring her down.
  2. The struggles we face in life aren’t all that bad. If Natalie could have a positive outlook on life with all of the adversity she went through, the rest of us can too.
  3. Natalie had a determination to succeed. Her competitiveness inspired everyone around her.
  4. Her smile was contagious and always brought a smile to my face. She taught me that even though there are sometimes reasons to frown, there are so many more reasons to smile.
  5. Natalie lived her heart and soul and never took anything for granted; I can only hope that we can come close to doing the same.

Natalie lived her life with optimism that changed the lives of those who knew her. We will not remember the cancer, or for the fact that she had only one leg. We remember the strong, beautiful girl that made a difference; Natalie Hill, our hero.