I heard of Miriam Frankl’s accident in passing. I was sitting on the common room couch in my dorm at Johns Hopkins University on Oct. 16.
Another New Trier alum asked if I had heard that Miriam, a Wilmette girl who had graduated the year before us at New Trier, had been involved in a car accident, and explained that she was in the hospital
As this was the extent of the information I received for the next couple hours, I assumed for the rest of the day that she would pull through, obviously worried, but without changing my daily routine.
That evening, as information started trickling in, I pieced together that this wasn’t the no-big-deal scenario I had originally brushed it off as. She was in critical condition, her parents had already arrived in town, she was on life support, she probably won’t wake up.
Suddenly it hit me.
I searched the Internet for more information. Miriam, 20, was involved in a hit and run while crossing the street on her way to a philanthropy event for her sorority.
It wasn’t as if Miriam and I were best friends, but we sure did have a lot in common, more than enough for the “why her, not me” questions to completely overtake me at first.
Miriam and I had attended the same middle school, high school, and college. We’d both been involved in cross-country, peer helping and Make It Better, where we both worked as interns. We chatted whenever we saw each other and never ran out of things to talk about.
I truly believe that I wouldn’t be the person I am today had I never known Miriam. As a high school senior, I visited her at Hopkins, and through my time with her, decided to apply early decision.
Miriam was full of potential. She was a dedicated student, studying both Cellular and Molecular Biology and Spanish. She was participating in ALS research for the Department of Neurology.
I opted to fly home, hoping that the coping would be easier with my family surrounding me. This proved the best option, as I had the much needed, continuous support of my family and also was able to attend Miriam’s funeral service.
The service took place at Beth Emet the Free Synagogue, and it was full.
Once inside, I realized my life wasn’t the only one Miriam’s had touched. As I looked around, I recognized many different people; members of Greek life on campus, teachers I had in high school, parents and their children who I have known since elementary school.
The service was heartbreaking. It was truly a celebration of Miriam’s life, featuring vignettes from many of Miriam’s high school friends, college sorority sisters and a family friend.
Back on campus a couple weeks later, the school held another service. It featured some of the same speeches honoring Miriam’s life, including a new one from Miriam’s aunt.
While both services focused on celebrating Miriam’s life, it was impossible not to mourn the loss of her bright future.