I Fulfilled My Best Friend’s Promise Posthumously

Yesterday would have been my best friend Sascha’s 23rd birthday; sadly, she passed away just shy of her 21st. In those two years, she’s changed me more than I ever expected. Below is my tribute to her. I love you, Sascha Bu.


 “Maddie Marie, you know I love you, but if you don’t double major, I will kill you!”

That’s the last conversation I had with my best friend, Sascha Julia Franzel, before she passed away three years ago. It was two weeks shy of her 21st birthday. 

To say it was devastating was an understatement. How could my best friend, whom I told everything and had spoken with just hours earlier, suddenly be gone forever?

I grappled with this for a few months; I connected with mutual friends who felt similarly. But Winston Churchill once said, “If you’re going through hell, keep going.” So I did. And what got me through was my last conversation with Sascha.

I had always wanted to double major, but had yet to declare it. When Sascha died just hours after reminding me to pursue this new passion (in her true feisty way), I didn’t take that lightly. I believe in signs and this was mine. So for my remaining time at NYU, I pursued my double major — journalism and acting — with full, Sascha-fueled force. Whenever it seemed like too much, I thought of Sasha and kept going. The idea to double-major was mine, but its purpose was all her. Now, as a recent graduate, I can say it’s the best decision I ever made in college. And it’s all because of her.

We all know that life is short, clichéd as that sounds, but I think we forget how meaningful our lives can be. Sascha wanted to be a plastic surgeon so she could operate on kids with facial deformities. She also was a superstar actor, singer, and dancer, and loved dolphins more than Kanye loves Kim. Had I not met Sascha, I wouldn’t have found my love for journalism or created The HBIC Project. Not only did Sascha change my life, her legacy has helped build a new hospital wing, create scholarships and beautify a community. If Sascha could do all this posthumously, what can we do in our lifetime?

Sascha's Rock Garden in Steamboat Springs, CO

Your life means more than you know, and I encourage you to always remember your power to make a difference. The funny thing about life is that it’s seemingly infinite until it’s over. And with infinite time comes infinite possibilities. Let’s take advantage of them. 

This summer, I spent a few days visiting Sascha’s parents in Colorado. They gave me this piece of art she created with an accompanying poem.
photo (1)
Thank you, Sascha, for giving so many people the stars and the moon.

Maddie Marie


I’ll give you stars and the moon and a soul to guide you 
And a promise to never go. 
I’ll give you hope to bring out all the life inside you
And the strength to help you grow
I’ll give you truth and a future that’s 20 times better than any Hollywood plot 
I’ll give you the stars and the moon. 

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