It was just a regular Saturday morning. My biggest concern was how to be at Blake’s soccer game and pick up Brooke from dance rehearsal at the same time. We were coming out of a busy week and didn’t have time to buy the birthday present she needed for a party later that evening. The dog had to go to the vet. Work was going to be crazy up till Thanksgiving.
And then everything changed.
The last time I saw Brooke alive she was smiling and eating strawberry yogurt at the kitchen counter. She was already dressed and ready for a long day of dance rehearsals. I told her I was going to take a shower, then we would leave for the studio. She said she was going to go put her hair up.
“Is Brooke okay?” my husband called out. “I heard a noise from her room.”
Brooke was not okay. I found her, unconscious, on the floor in front of her mirror. The chain of events that followed were like something out of the worst movie ever: CPR, 911, two hospitals, life support, and a diagnosis without any hope at all.
My perfectly healthy baby girl had the tiniest of flaws that could never have been seen on any imaging. Something that we never would have known until it was too late. A blood vessel, very close to her brain stem, was weak. It was never strong enough to withstand her growth and, at age eleven, she had already sprung up to a gorgeous 5 foot 2, eyes of blue, adolescent. It was just too much. That tiny blood vessel burst. Her brain stopped functioning and life, as we knew it, stopped functioning, too. Brooke died on Sunday, November 8. Two days later, she saved three lives by donating her organs. Surreal is the only way to describe what has happened to her and to our family.
That was just over three weeks ago and we’re still in shock. Sleep comes in fits and starts. So I write. I write in the middle of the night when my husband and sweet 9-year-old boy don’t need me. I write to make sense out of something that makes no sense. I write to share the anguish and pain and to document the journey that lies ahead of life without my daughter, my best friend, my soulmate.
There is no road map, and I know that grief is a journey that has no end. My hope is that as we find peace, we may find a way to share what we learn with others who have to walk in our shoes – as well as those who never will – but may learn to appreciate all they have. Because in an instant, everything can change.