To Brooke On Your 12th Birthday

Dear Brooke,

Twelve years ago tonight, I couldn’t wait to meet you. I remember the night before you were born like it was yesterday. Curled up on the sofa under mountains of blankets, I listened intently to the Ohio wind howling outside. I wanted to remember everything about this last night with you still in my belly. The night before I would meet my baby girl, my dream come true.

But there was so much I already knew about you. How you seemed to gently tap whenever you were hungry, how you kicked hard when I was upset at a work meeting , or when things got too loud. I remember having to leave a hockey playoff game at the most exciting moment ever because I knew you couldn’t stand all that noise.You were a sensitive soul and I talked to you all the time. I told you that you were my dream come true.

You came into this world on March 9, 2004 at 11:37 p.m. When you arrived, you did not cry. You simply looked around.  You had a full head of dark hair, more than a newborn should,  and you were wide eyed and alert, with a curious look as if to say, “What just happened and where am I?”

You made up for not crying in the delivery room by crying constantly after that. Nothing seemed to soothe you except when Daddy and I held you. And so we did. Constantly.

We didn’t know what colic was, but we knew what you needed. So we gave you everything we had. All night. For hours on end. For three long months.

One night, after hours of non-stop crying, I just looked you, exhausted. You were calm and those blue eyes of yours were looking at me intently.

Everything made sense at that moment and I told you this:

“God gives us children to make us more loving, more caring, more like Him. The more you need me, the more you cry, the more I will love you.”

It was so simple, so pure. God simply wanted me to love you, and I found that my love for you had no limits… no boundaries.

As you grew into a shy, sweet little girl,  I marveled at the sheer miracle of you. The way you loved animals, the way you intently studied a blade of grass, a flower. You and I could spend hours just exploring the world together. You loved your little swing in the backyard and I’d sing to you as I pushed you higher and higher until you giggled with delight. You were my everything. And I told you everyday that you were my dream come true.

When Blake was born I was afraid I couldn’t love him as much as you and of course that was the silliest thing ever because my heart literally just doubled the moment he was born – probably even a little bit before. You loved him, too and together with the best Dad ever, and finally after the arrival of Dudley, our little family was complete.

As we watched you grow, we became more and more proud of the sweet, smart young lady you were becoming. Every night you told me I was the best mom ever. And every night I told you that you were my dream come true.

And you know what, darling? You still are.You are my dream come true. You left us way too soon and I’ll spend the rest of my life trying to understand something I never will. But if I was given the choice to have you for only 11 years and 8 months or not at all, I’d still choose you. I’d choose all the joy and love and happiness you brought every day, to every life you touched.  I’d choose you, because having you, just for a little while, was better than never knowing you at all. I was blessed with the most beautiful daughter a mother could ever imagine. I’d choose the honor of being your mom.

It was so simple, so pure. God simply wanted me to love you, and I found that my love for you had no limits… no boundaries. And my love still reaches you.  I just know it.

So Happy Birthday, baby girl. We miss you so very much, but we’re celebrating your life on Earth and and sending all our love to our beautiful angel in Heaven.

Love,

Mom, Dad, Blake and Dudley

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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.

 

 

 

Ribbons and Lights

The purple ribbons still adorn nearly every tree, post and sign in our neighborhood. They remind us how much our friends and community care. But they also remind us that we lost Brooke.

“When should they come down?” our friends ask. “Just let us know.” That’s a tricky question and the only answer I can give is this… when our entire family is ready.

Today we decided it was time to start decorating for Christmas. While we’re not quite ready for the tree just yet, we decorated outside. We put up purple lights and planted lavender flowers in the beds in front of our little porch. It seems right to us, to decorate in a way that says we know things are different, yet we still celebrate the Season.

The purple makes quite an impact outside, but even more so inside. As we sat in our living room watching The Minion Movie, we all noticed the same thing at once… Purple was shining in from the glass panes of the front door.  It’s as if Brooke is shining bright into our home. Better than any candle. Because to us purple signifies her whimsy, her youth and her spirit.