In lieu of flowers
The Amazing Anna Burns was a joyful light in our lives for sixteen years, bringing kindness, curiosity, and spirit to all that they do. Anna's wide interests made them a part of many communities and many hearts. We know that Anna means much to you, and the love we all feel for them is important to express, capture, and hold onto.
We lost Anna on Tuesday, September 13th, 2022 when Anna had a cardiac arrest near the end of their cross-country race in Ludlow, and we don't know why. A team of bystanders and EMTs tried hard to revive Anna and they got a heartbeat back but their brain was without oxygen for too long and they never regained consciousness.
When we think about where Anna most liked to be, many wonderful people and places come to mind. They have amazing friends who were a very important part of their life. Their love of the outdoors, exercise and moving their body connected them to amazing people and experiences and helped them to learn about their passions, interests, and who they are. Morse Hill is a place that allowed Anna to blend their love of outdoor activities (Climb! Bike! Canoe!) with leadership opportunities in a place that celebrates difference and fosters belonging, being seen, heard, and valued. Their athletic teams have been incredibly supportive communities and outlets for competition and friendship. Nordic and Ultimate are longtime loves and ARXC a new one. These were spaces where Anna could dream big, or not, and thrive with the support and encouragement of coaches and teammates. Anna also loved learning. They challenged themselves with a hefty dose of math and science classes (Chemistry! Calculus! AP Bio!) and loved poetry and literature as well. As an illustration, these are the books at their bedside (reachable only after fighting through the ‘clothes bomb’): On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous (Ocean Vuong), The Song of Achilles (M. Miller), A Visit from the Goon Squad (J. Egan), Caste (I. Wilkerson) and Principles of Biostatistics. As you can see, they appreciated the logic and symmetry of math and science and the beauty of written and spoken words.
They loved to travel and were fortunate enough to have gotten to see some of the wider world. Mexico, Montreal for the Women’s World Cup, France and Switzerland for the next World Cup, including the US wins in the semis and finals! And perhaps best, a six month sailing trip to the eastern Caribbean and the US east coast. We took many trips to Colorado for hiking in RMNP and were just in Yellowstone this past summer.
Anna also wanted to make a difference in this world. They cared deeply about the environment and were part of the Sunrise Movement in Amherst that seeks to address climate change and hoped to combine their love of science to use chemistry, environmental science and engineering to be part of the climate solution. They were also a proud member of and strong advocate for the LGBTQ+ community. Mostly Anna cared. They cared deeply about their family, their friends, their teammates, their classmates, their world, and Max and Leo, the babycats. As Anna wished, and this wish is perfectly in their character, Anna’s organs are being donated so that others may be helped by their loss.
Anna’s absence leaves an unimaginable hole in our collective lives but Anna will be part of the Goff-Burns family and all of the other wonderful families and communities they were part of forever.
We love you, AB xoxo