Happy Birthday Elyse

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By: Connor Lenahan

Today is the birthday of one of my closest friends, Elyse Notarianni. She has, in a relatively short amount of time, changed my life forever. She’s made my life a significantly better place. In fact, it’s in large part her doing that I have done so well in college thus far. She helped me get to a better place in life. So I wanted to share that story.

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I had always known of Elyse in my high school. We never shared a class directly, as she is one year my junior, however I would always see her around. It wasn’t until the tail end of my senior year that I finally “met” her however. I formally introduced myself to Elyse by saying, “I’m Connor, and your Twitter is one of my favorite things ever.” She was taken aback, and seeming saw past this semi-creepy introduction and began to have regular conversations with me at the end of her English class that I would regularly poke my head into.

We became fast friends because we share a similar sense of humor. Almost nothing is off limits and bonus points are given if you can be creatively snarky. Elyse is a hall of famer when it comes to these jokes. I learned this because she was capable of making me laugh during one of the most frustrating parts of my life without fail.

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Last June, with nine days to go until gradation, I broke my left tibia and fibula whilst walking to my math class. This fall happened to quite literally shut down my high school; a lockdown was called to allow for me to be safely taken out on a stretcher to the ambulance waiting just outside. I met my brother outside and we headed to the hospital to once again fix me up.

Chase handled my phone and the onslaught of texts I was receiving as word spread quickly through the walls of Abington Heights that I was broken. Elyse had frantically texted me to see what had happened. Chase told her the sad news, however made a minor error. He informed Elyse, who then informed others, that I had fractured my ankle. She didn’t think it was all that significant. When I told her my shin was in half, in true Elyse fashion, she bypassed the fracture and instead focused on anger at Chase over getting her hopes up. This did in the moment and does today make me laugh.

While I spent that night and a few nights later that week in the hospital, Elyse was right by my side. She texted me at ungodly hours of the night, both checking on my health and trying (and succeeding) to make me laugh. I’ve said this to many, and it’s a fact, that Elyse cheered me up more than morphine did. When you realize I was fresh off a surgery that placed a six-inch metal plate in my shin, I’m not sure there’s a higher compliment to be given.

Elyse continuously made me smile through the break and the ensuing recovery. I owe her for that. I always will. She took something that so very easily could have been a chance for me to become angry at the world and made it enjoyable. I cannot thank her enough for making me smile during my darkest point. Then again, that’s her specialty.

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She did more for me after that. In early January, I wrote about the night I made a breakthrough on my sense of self; a night where I was able to crystalize exactly how I live with Osteogenesis Imperfecta. I met Elyse right around the same time. While I was at home, resting on painkillers from the surgery, I would bare my soul to her about my biggest insecurities like my long-standing body image issues tied to my wheelchair and my leg braces. Elyse has this otherworldly way of changing my mind on things. She has sent me some of the sweetest texts I’ve ever received that all tell me the same thing: the wheelchair doesn’t define who you are, you define who you are. There was one night in particular that I remember Elyse telling me that no one she had ever talked to had ever viewed me as “Connor with the wheelchair.” They just saw me as a person. This remains one of the most transformative moments of my life. It was a validation of everything I was hoping to be true. Yet again, Elyse made me happy.

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My greatest joy in this world is to make other people happy. I’ve been blessed with incredible people and opportunities, and I love nothing more than to share the wealth. When I met Elyse, I saw that she had an infectious joy that would take over the room, no matter the circumstance. Every day I try to cultivate that. Whatever makes her happy makes me happy. Even though I now live hundreds of miles away, I still check in on her daily. If she’s happy, it makes me happy. If she’s not happy, I try to cheer her up. I always want to make her smile, because she was able to make me smile through the broken leg. I truly cannot thank her enough for that.

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Elyse is one of my best friends. She has made me into a better person and a happier person simply by being alive. I’m a believer that if you’re a good person, the world will look out for you. This fall Elyse will be heading away to begin her own college journey at her top choice American and I know it will be perfect. She made my life perfect; the world is going to do the same for her.

I cannot thank Elyse enough for the joy she has brought to my life in the past year. Hopefully this serves as a worthy birthday gift, especially seeing as you informed me I could not purchase you anything. You’re one of the best people I’ve ever met and always will be. Thank you for being so amazing.

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I asked Elyse what she’d most like for her birthday and appropriately enough she requested Twitter followers. Make sure you follow her. You won’t be disappointed. Elyse has one of the best Twitters in the world today and continuously makes me laugh. No she didn’t explicitly write this paragraph, why do you ask?

Follow Elyse’s Twitter, please and thank you: @ElyseNotarianni

Connor Lenahan (@ConnorLenahan) is a freshman at Boston University, majoring in journalism. He can be contacted at lenahan@bu.edu