A True Story by Hannah Rose Murphy


I'm good at leaving when a place no longer serves me. When I packed, I felt pleased that everything I owned still fit in my little car. Keep only what you use. I was moving across the country for a second time; sometimes there is love in leaving. When I thought about my time in Nashville it felt like that - time passing. But during that time, I grew into myself. Time is an ingredient to growth I often wish I could forgo, but consistently am reminded is necessary. When I visited Los Angeles a few weeks prior to secure a job transfer, I wrote a few lines at a sunny coffee shop in anticipation of the move:

No longer do I feel the palm trees will cure me, but I cannot deny the healing power of the ocean. By moving where I didn't belong, I learned to belong to myself I learned the value of self discovery through the monotony of work. Through settling into something and someone I didn't want to be, I chipped away at what didn't align with myself

Now I find strength in loneliness, security in the unknown. The palm trees won't cure me. I'd rather heal myself.

Photography of Hannah Rose Murphy following the accident by Duston Todd.

Photography of Hannah Rose Murphy following the accident by Duston Todd.

Traveling with a friend and shoved between boxes of books and records, I turned the keys and started driving towards Los Angeles. After a long day in the car with midwest scenery on loop, Hays, Kansas was the stopping point for the night. I set an alarm for an early morning run before another long day of driving and woke up before the sun.

I remember running through quiet neighborhoods, an empty school playground, a cemetery. I paused at the cemetery, I always like to stop and read some of the names. Isn't that the point of a cemetery? To acknowledge, "This person existed. This person was alive."

I remember turning around to make my way back, ready to get back on the road.
I remember crossing the street at the intersection, seeing the bumper and the license plate of the van and how their speed wasn't changing
how it headed directly towards me and after a brief flash of blacknessĀ­
feeling the gravel on my palms
hearing the sounds of the ambulance
trying to use my phone which had shattered to pieces
the short ride to the hospital.
I remember the police officer collecting information about the accident, asking for emergency contacts. I remember giving him my mom's number, and then the immediately following up with, "Wait, don't call my mom!" I figure bad news is always better coming your daughter rather than the police. I remember calling my friends still smiling and telling my doctor's about the hikes I still planned to go on the next day.

I had a broken nose, two black eyes, spinal fractures, wounds and abrasions on my knees, chest, face, hands, arms. Sometimes life gets you down, and sometimes it hits you with a mini-van.


I spent the next three months in Utah with my family resting, healing, spending as much time in the mountains as I could. My friend Duston messaged me wanting to photograph me in my wounded state. My own body of work has a central theme running through: honesty. Duston's work mirrors this so I knew we could make something powerful together.
After seeing the photos, I knew we had captured a time, a feeling, something honest, something raw, something vulnerable, something strong.
It wasn't until a month later that I even considered the idea of death. I could remember the entire accident except the actual impact. I had the realization that I would have been alive one second, and not the next. Instead, I was standing.
I am standing.
Seeking and fighting to be alive.
Trying everyday to make something honest.
A year before the accident almost to the day, I had written a poem about healing. It took me so long to consider death because I was too busy considering all the poems I needed to write, paintings I needed to paint, and mountains I needed to climb.
I wrote this poem describing emotional healing. It's meaning has transformed with time, as all things do.
This is my fight for aliveness, and I fight for it everyday.

I see you 're filled with holes, child.
don 't be angry about this, we all are.
in this life, you will learn.
and learning isn 't always easy, child.
one of your teachers will be Pain.
do not be afraid, but Pain will come in like an angry storm and will leave you with these holes. but Pain is not a cruel teacher. because after you meet Pain, you will meet Healing.
do you know the meaning of Healing, child?
Healing is to make whole again.
and what a beautiful thing it is to be whole, child.
what a beautiful thing it is.

- Hannah Rose Murphy