When I hit my mid-20’s, after a long, confusing litany of medical tests, I was diagnosed with lupus. Aside from an anti-malarial medication, I was, for several months, on a high dosage of prednisone, the steroid. The doctor warned me that the medication could cause “moon face”, a puffiness of the face. For a single woman in her 20’s, that’s a cause for concern.

So daily, I checked the mirror to see if the moon face was coming. And I saw no change.

In the midst of my recovery, I flew a thousand miles away to the wedding of my best friend from college. At the reception, I sat next to a young man from school that had pursued me my senior year…and he didn’t recognize me. I had only been away for a year — I simply couldn’t imagine what was wrong with him. Until a sorority sister, who was a nursing student, told me my moon face would only be temporary.

Because I had been looking every day, I was oblivious to the slow change. But everyone at the wedding noticed more about me than I knew about myself.

Something similar happened to me last week. I was asked to attend a luncheon celebrating Women’s Equality Day and told that I would be an honoree as a female “political powerhouse”. The email was from a woman I’d never met, followed by a delightful phone call from another woman I had never met. I reminded both that I was no longer a mayor and that I was no more important than any other woman who tried to make a difference. “We hope you’ll be able to make it,” Hannah told me, and asked me to fill out a four-question survey online, which I did with some delay.

The day of the event, I hugged that Hannah in meeting her for the first time, wearing her bright red dress and knew immediately she was my friend. When the event began, I was announced as the first honoree and a young woman stood up to reach a poem Hannah had written…for me.

Poem for Jill Swain

the work doesn’t stop

service doesn’t just end

when it is tied to your identity

something that you would do again and again


you don’t do it for a title

you don’t do it for the glory

you do it for your legacy

your history, your story


when you choose to serve

when giving is playing your part

therein you find your reward

therein is the expansion of your heart.


People don’t stop needing help

the growth of your city is vital

So you graciously do the work

With or without a title


And I walk into a room

Back straight, head held high

Wearing confidence like it’s my crown

As I see to work change and make an impression on lives


I am striving to make an impact

I am running at my own comfortable pace

To be remembered as someone who cared

As someone who never quit her race


I hope the message that I send

Is very loud and clear

I am standing in my purpose

Without anything to fear


Sending those around me Gratitude

humility is what I am made of

Ready to serve and change that surrounds me

With a heart wide open that is full of love.”

Hannah Hasan is a poet, a kindred spirit, a woman who saw me in a light that overwhelms me. She wrote unique poems for each of the honorees, coloring their pictures perfectly.

I have struggled to write this, because there is simply so much emotion and amazement to this. We can look in the mirror every day. We can see what we want to see. Or not see what is in front of us.

Sometimes, the best thing may simply be to exist as we are meant to be, to open our hearts and experience new friendships and love. Because those people, the ones who touch us in unexpected ways, may be the ones that teach us who truly is looking back when we’re looking in the mirror.


I am still just overwhelmed. What a gift, Hannah. Thank you.


Author: jillswain

Former Mayor Chamber of Commerce Exec. Director Advertising consultant Mom and spouse (30 years and counting!) Rec league girls' volleyball coach Champion of all things Huntersville, North Carolina

2 thoughts on “Hannah”

  1. What people don’t see is what’s in your heart and that’s the true essence of you….and many like you who are in public service for the right reasons. Hannah is undoubtedly one of those people, too.

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