What a difference a year makes. That’s how the saying goes. Sometimes we revel in all that has changed in the course of 12 months. Other times, we look toward the past with longing.

This week, many staff members at The Press looked back with longing. Tuesday marked the one-year anniversary of the loss of a dear friend and co-worker, Katie Malin French. We looked back with longing because none of us felt like we had enough time with Katie, a person so special she could change the entire tone of a room just by walking into it.

In the year since her passing, many have honored Katie’s memory. The Press and Katie’s family collaborated to honor local student athletes with the Katie Malin French Be Fierce Award for Perseverance. As we read about various nominees for the award, we often asked, “What is perseverance?” Each time, we relied on Katie’s spirit through all of her trials for guidance to provide the answer.

We all face hurdles, climb mountains and sometimes struggle to round the bases, but all of those things help us live as stronger individuals. “Steadfastness in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success,” according to the literal definition of perseverance. That was Katie.

In addition to the award, an effort was started by The Union at the Montgomery to honor Katie. Various items — T-shirts and other items — have been designed with Katie and her life in mind. The tags on the items read, “… her impact lives on. She knew no strangers and remains a light in countless lives. Here’s to the irreplaceable people… Who is your Katie Friendship?”

Katie was one of the most kind people I know. The shirts include sayings like “We were all strangers once” and “but first, kindness.” If you get a chance, stop by The Union and pick up a shirt or one of the other items inspired by all of us touched by “Katie Friendship.”

Grief has a way of sneaking up on us, and marking that one-year mark without Katie wasn’t easy. Tears were shed. But, we also had a chance in the midst of the day-to-day to fondly remember her. We shared stories and discussed how much has changed since her passing.

I know several of us here at The Press frequently rely on Katie’s example for how we continue to live our lives. No matter how many years pass, that will not change.