SALEM - More than 1,000 friends and family packed a Salem church today to remember a happy 17-year-old homecoming queen who died from bone cancer.
Lisa Harder died Sunday morning. Her pastor said the day she became homecoming queen for West Salem High School was one of the happiest of her life.
Lisa’s best friend Emily Henderson, the student body president made it happen. But Lisa and Emily and everyone else knew her time was short.
She developed a rare bone cancer in the 8th grade and now a senior in high school, was in hospice care.
“They’ve told us so many times she wasn’t going to make it. And like, we just expected it. And then we just expect her to bounce back every single time. And she didn’t,” said Emily.
She waited up with friends all night Friday talking about Lisa and thinking about her. She stayed up all night Saturday too. Sunday morning, she learned Lisa had died.
Four days later, it’s still hard for friends to believe.
“It hasn’t really sunk in. It’s been rough. A really rough week. I don’t know. Still wish she was here,” said Micah McCloud, a West Salem High student and friend of Lisa’s.
A lot of people feel that way. Students from Salem’s Sprague high school sent over this poster to honor Lisa. And the words she spoke to her classmates hang on the walls of her school.
“It was really hard the first time I read it, because she talks about how she went from a horseback riding, violin playing, volleyball playing girl to a girl with cancer. And that’s how you remember it because we were all there with her seeing her go through it,” said Erin McNab, also a friend from school. It’s a warning not to waste their lives.
At Lisa’s celebration of life service, many spoke of her love for God and her conviction she’d go to heaven.
Her family has no doubt.
“It’s tough for us and it’s good for her. You know? She’s in a place we all dream of. She’s getting to see it first,” said her brother Kyle Harder.
And remember Lisa’s friend Emily? For the love and compassion she showed her dying friend, Lisa’s family called Emily up to the front at the end of the sericve and placed the crown on Emily’s head, naming her the new homecoming queen.