I remember Hazel really well. Sometimes my memories are so clear that I can almost feel her sitting next to me, or walking by my side. Seven years have passed, and I miss her like she went away yesterday.
I met Hazel for the first time when I was twenty; I was an ambitious guy studying psychology who thought that he had already reached happiness, buying a nice car and hanging out with friends. Hazel opened my eyes and, thanks to her, I discovered how beautiful it is helping others and giving them second chances. Hazel helped me grow with her generous words, her patient work and her strawberry candies given to everyone.
She was the most helpful person I've ever known, because she liked to help everyone who needed comfort and never asked for something back; Hazel was happy to receive your smile, and felt satisfied hearing "Thank You", and for her that was enough.
Mostly for its nice sound, her unique name, Hazel Daziel, earned her many nicknames; for someone she was Hazie-Dazie, for someone else simply Haz, and I also heard some people calling her Dazzling Hazel . . . She used to smile hearing all that stuff.
I was the only one who called her Momo; it was one of our little secrets. I chose that name because Hazel reminded me a lot Michael Ende's character: she had, like Momo, the beautiful skill of listening to you truly and carefully.
But it seemed that no one recognized it, and no one could get in the way of what I felt and thought about Hazel; they spoke to her normally, didn't understand they were standing in front of an angel. But I couldn't be angry with my classmates, because at first I acted like them.
In fact, I firstly thought that Hazel had something strange. Not about clothes, or hair--in those things, she was like every twenty-year-old girl. But Hazel had something like a magnetic, shiny aura that brought everywhere she went: her smile, so soft and kind, and her gaze, from those beautiful deep eyes, carried a peaceful feeling I still can't understand. Her goodness was palpable.
I must admit Hazel didn't have a simple nature; she rarely spoke, and the way she looked at you, like she could dig into your hidden side, made people feel uncertain, and most of times they thought she lived in her own world. I was both scared and attracted, and when I looked at her, I didn't know what to do.
Initially, I barely spoke to her, even if I began to feel something more than curiosity inside me. It all happened when we studied together for a test: I was speaking to her, and Hazel nodded and smiled in that way I loved, making me feel comfortable like I've never felt before. And suddenly we were kissing, and that day became the sweetest of my whole life.
I'll never forget those mellow lips, those warm hands, and her beautiful coppery hair. I found my paradise, and it was called Hazel.
We stayed together for more than four years, and every day I discovered something new about my Momo. Stupid things, that weren't useful, like the fact that she loved Barbra Streisand and hated pepper, but made me thought I knew her a little more, and important things, that made me love her more, like the fact that her dream was to do voluntary work in those countries devastated by wars.
I thought we had all the time we wanted, until that Saturday.
We were at the Heathrow airport and Hazel was very happy: her dream was coming true, she was going to do volunteer work for nine months. I remember every single moment: Hazel waved at me, shouted sweet words to me and then walked away, to take her airplane. These things passed in my mind like a never-ending movie for months.
That was the last time I saw Hazel, because she never turned back. Someone killed her, war took her life. Her wonderful, meaningful life.
I don't know very much about how it happened--maybe because I don't want to. I simply know that Hazel is not here, no longer.
Every week I go to her grave, I leave some brooms, her favourite flowers, and I sit in front of it, looking to the little photo under the words "Hazel Martha Daziel 1978-2002 ". I think about those sweet times, and about what I'm doing now. I think about how life could be with her by my side. Sometimes I cry.
And sometimes I also speak, because I hope that , from somewhere, Hazel can still hear me . . .