Not Just any Cute Vera Bradley Bag

This is just not an ordinary Vera Bradley bag. No, no, it doesn’t have special powers that inhibit me to speak better Spanish, but it has a different kind of power. I am sharing my story of my good friend Amanda and how she changed my life for the good. The story starts off very sad, but I promise you it will get better.
January 18, 2010 will be one of the worst days of my life. The day started off well. I had just got back from a week-long Model UN trip in Ecuador. I had come back energized and ready to start the last semester at TCU. Then around 7:30 pm, my life changed completely. Some of my sorority sisters had come by to check on my roommate, Amanda, who I thought was out of town, but in fact stayed at TCU for MLK weekend. We tried knocking on her door, no answer. We figured out that it was blocked but one of my friends was able to slip through and she discovered the worst, Amanda had taken her own life.
Us four went into shock. Frantically, we ran out screaming. We used someone’s cell phone to call the police since I left mine in the house. The police and ambulance came and confirmed our worst nightmares. Soon after, I was put alone in a cop car for two hours. I was in shock, scared, and had no one to talk to. TCU is a very small community and people quickly surrounded where the police lights were and realized it was my house the police were at. Since I left my cell phone in the house and I was in the back of a cop car, people started getting concerned where I was and some thought the worst had happened to me. I was finally released from the car, called my mother to fill her in on the rest of the story, texted people saying that I was alive, and then tried to understand just what happened. My brain just couldn’t grasp what had just happened and how my life and the lives of Amanda’s family and friends were changed forever.
Throughout the rest of the semester I struggled with what happened. Of course I had my close friends and family there for hugs and love, but I struggled trying finding people who wanted to dissect about what actually happened. I kept these thoughts and emotions inside because I had no one to relate to who truly understood what I was going through. When I started Peace Corps in January 2011, I kept quiet of my past throughout my time here, because I didn’t want anyone to feel sorry for me or think differently of me (before the post, a vast majority of my friends here still don’t know). But one night hanging out with a close Peace Corps friend in November 2011, I cracked. I just couldn’t hold it in any longer. I told her about my anger, confusion, and pain that had come from that fateful day. She supported and encouraged me to go talk to someone at the medical office about it. And thank God I did. The great thing about PC is that they provide free medical service, and I was able to take advantage of it. I was able to sort out what has been bouncing around in my mind for so long. I still struggle often, but I am equip with the tools to work on it.
Okay, now you have heard all the sad stuff, here’s the point of this whole story. During finals time during Fall 2009, Amanda and I talked a lot (we were avoiding studying at all costs). We talked about our joys and problems at school, our future plans, and so much more. Amanda had done some mission trips in the past and she was thinking about doing Peace Corps after she graduated in 2011 with a nursing degree. Since she still had a year left at TCU, she was excited to hear about all my future adventures wherever the PC sent me. We both talked about how we want to improve the lives of so many who have trouble improving their own. Those weeks I am going to forever cherish in my memories of Amanda. Another way Amanda procrastinated studying was by cleaning out some of her old bags. She let me look through them before giving them away to charity. One of them is the Vera Bradley. I took it because I thought it looked cute, and I could use it to carry my school stuff.
I have used this simple Vera Bradley bag everywhere in Nicaragua throughout my two years here. I have taken it to meetings, trainings, and work. It is almost always with me. The straps are quite worn and are in need of a good fix. I just don’t do this because it’s a cute bag and can fit lots of things it. I carry this bag around because I want to always have a part of Amanda’s passion of wanting to help others in need with me. I feel that I am sharing part of my experience with her even though I can’t tell her about it.Every time I get complimented on the bag, or people ask me where I got it, I always say it was a gift. It’s gift from a friend who has changed my life for good. In IIKE


I shared this story also to open up the discussion about suicide. It is a taboo across cultures, but still is a huge issue. Suicide affects people all around the world, rich, poor, young, old, and in between. If you, or someone you know struggles with suicidal thoughts please visit: call 1-800-SUICIDE or visit


About hannauseem

I graduated from Texas Christian University in May 2010 with a B.A. in Political Science-International Relations and a minor in Spanish. I am beginning my Peace Corps adventure January 11, 2011 and returning April 2013. It's going to be a crazy, exciting, and life changing 27 months and I can't wait to see what life throws at me! This blog in no way represents the views of the Peace Corps or the United States government
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One Response to Not Just any Cute Vera Bradley Bag

  1. Hanna, that is beautiful! I am so glad you opened up and shared. There is no making sense of this, just our responce to it. Your story tells of healing and hope and that loved shared can never be taken away!! Love you!

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