How Much Longer?

1399674_10153355654144619_1025590539219127888_oEvery August, our family would make the 12-hour journey to Park City, Utah. And every hour or so, Brooke would ask the same question… “How Much Longer?”

Along the way, we’d play games, sing songs, and watch movies to pass the time, but the drive always seemed to take longer than Brooke, or any of us for that matter, wanted it to take.

This year, our family is on a journey without Brooke, and this journey really has no end. But it seems like everyone (including us) is wondering… How Much Longer?

How much longer until the unbearable pain wears off? How much longer until we can make it through a day without crying? How much longer until we can focus on a simple task without forgetting something important? How much longer until we feel somewhat like ourselves again? The answer is simply this: We have no idea.

So we play games, we sing songs, and watch movies to pass the time. We hug each other – a lot. We find moments each day where we get some relief from the pain … dinner with friends, watching Blake play sports, a walk near the water, jumping high in the trampoline, Dudley’s antics… a freshly baked cookie.

But the truth is, our journey has just begun. Losing Brooke was so sudden, so unexpected… we haven’t even pulled out of the driveway yet.

We have no idea where we’re going, and we have a long, tough road ahead. But there’s one thing we do know. We won’t ask “How Much Longer?” Because Brooke isn’t here to ask. She knows it’s forever – and she’s along for the ride.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Quintessence

I finally have the courage to post a photo of us together. It’s taken me this long to do so for many reasons. The most obvious is because we look so much alike, and it’s painful to be without my other half. We also look so incredibly happy because we were. We took this selfie during Blake’s birthday party last June at Angels Stadium. I want to warn those two smiling faces about what will happen in November. I want to tell them to hold on tight for the next several months because that’s all they will have together.

But the other reason it’s hard to look at photographs, or even videos for that matter, is Because Brooke is so much more than an image or a file.

The word for this is Quintessence:  the essence of something in its purest and most concentrated form.

Brooke’s essence transcends photos and videos. For those of us who knew her well,  it’s the way she made us feel when she walked into a room.

It’s the way her smile was like a light going on in our hearts.

It’s the way her overall silliness made us roll our eyes and giggle at the same time.

It’s how we can hear a song on the radio and fondly remember her wacky rendition.

It’s how we eat a cupcake and still look over our shoulder, waiting for her to mischievously stick her finger in the frosting.

Brooke’s Quintessence is alive and well in our hearts and our minds. And that’s where she  lives  – Forever.

 

 

 

Our Unconventional Grief

When death occurs, a chain of events usually follows: memorial services, meal trains, charitable contributions. These events allow us to “do something” to honor the one we loved and support the ones who must go on without them. But most of the time, death is expected… as the result of illness, injury or old age. Brooke’s death was anything but. It was sudden. It was unanticipated. It was unconventional. And so is our grief.

Throughout the past nine weeks, I’ve often pondered how we’ve handled this tremendous and unforeseen loss so far. We were literally blindsided and in shock for the first week. Immediate family was in town so we had a small, yet beautifully intimate service at our beloved church. We sat in a circle, told stories, held hands and prayed.

After everyone went home, we went about the task of getting back into our routine. Brenn to work, Blake to school and sports. Then, before we could even catch our breath, came Thanksgiving. Christmas. New Years. We are exhausted both physically and emotionally.

My focus remains on nurturing my boys (and myself)  as we navigate our way through profound grief and come to terms with this new reality. I call it the three C’s: Cooking, Cuddling and Cocooning.

I’m cooking favorite meals because it gives me great joy to nourish my family… hence no meal train for us. The cuddling and cocooning keep us focused on each others’ immediate needs…hence we are currently unable to plan a large memorial service or life celebration. We also lack the focus  needed to decide on charitable contributions or a scholarship fund in Brooke’s honor.

The bottom line is that there’s not much for anyone to “do” at this moment – other than continue to love us, spend time with us, and let us know you care. We are so appreciative of the outpouring  of support. It gives us the strength we so desperately need.

Our grief may be unconventional,  but so is our loss. Sometimes I feel like we’re letting everyone down, but most of the time I think we’re doing it exactly right and people will be patient.  People will understand.

Because Brooke always took her time. And, when the time is right, we will celebrate her life… her legacy… and it will be as beautiful as she is.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How Do You Talk To An Angel?

Ask anyone who has lost a loved one and they’ll tell you about signs: butterflies, pennies, feathers, songs on the radio.. the list goes on. I truly believe that love and energy continue and our connection remains forever with those we so dearly  love.

Last week in Tahoe, I quickly snapped this photo from our hotel window with my iPhone. I see an angel kneeling and praying in this wispy cloud – the only one in the sky. But Blake sees ballet shoes. It’s kind of like the cloud game we used to play on long car rides. We all see something different, yet meaningful to us.

Whenever I’m driving and missing Brooke the most, I always see two birds flying overhead. I watch them playfully follow one another and remember how Brooke and I would swing hands as we walked together through a parking lot. I always told her that while I no longer needed to hold her hand… I wanted to.

Signs. They connect us back to the memories, the moments. Are they sent from those we love? I have no idea. All I know is that they open up my heart and keep me connected to my precious Brooke. They bring a smile to my face and comfort my aching soul.

I like to think of them as angel emogies. Which are absolutely perfect coming from my tween whose texts were usually more pictures than words, anyway. On Earth she sent me purple hearts and cookies. From Heaven she sends me clouds and birds. I wonder what’s next from her?

I remain open to signs and feelings along with amazingly vivid dreams. That’s how you talk to an angel. Because Brooke will always talk to me, and I will always be watching, listening, and connected to my amazingly creative girl.