Today marks 1,000 days since a reckless driver stole Brooke from us. Some of those days have been the darkest of my entire life. Some of those days have surprised me when moments of joy streaked across the horizon beckoning me forward. Mostly, 1,000 days have marched on despite the incomprehensible reality that Brooke isn’t here.
Though Brooke is not physically present, the love we shared didn’t die. We cheat death in a thousand ways when recall memories of our loved ones. Love dances beyond the fingertips of death. There are a thousand memories that death can’t touch:
- That puppy pout you’d make when you wanted something
- The way you called me “Mommy” instead of “Mother” when you really wanted something
- That stomp on the few occasions when you didn’t get what you wanted
- That smile – the real one that bubbled up from deep inside before self-consciousness whisked it away
- How you traveled “for the cookies”
- Your love for horses, puppies, baby pigs, and pygmy goats
- Your passion for barn life, beach life, mountain life, and life in general
- Your fierce loyalty for those whom you love
- The way as a toddler you’d sneak into my room each night even though you were tucked into your own at bedtime
- Watching you transform from a nervous teen into a confident young woman in the matter of a few short months
- How I’ll never be able to smell
horse sha barn and not think of you
- How I’ll never find just the right scent of sweet olive unless it comes from a live tree
- How finicky you could be about things like lemonade and chicken ‘n dumplings and gum and . . .
- How you ate cake primarily for the icing
- How you turned that one time we had ice cream cake for Megan’s birthday breakfast into a tradition (One that we still carry on)
- The way you would drive 30 miles to save 3 cents per gallon for gas
- Your staunch belief that a day wasn’t complete without a nap
- Your overreaction to minor things – like food touching on a plate
- Your justified reaction to injustice
- The way your face lit up when Carlos of Big Time Rush kissed your cheek or when you held your baby nieces
- The way you shook with excitement as you told me that you were being moved to the front row of the Paul McCartney concert
- Your little notes and letters to smooth things over when we’d had a disagreement or just to let me know that you appreciated our One Direction road trips
- Your tender heart for children and animals
- The way you thought “Pretty Little Liars” was a scary show
- Your obsession with Gossip Girl, Shark Tank, and SpongeBob
- The fact that you loved “Elf” as much as me
- The fact that “growing up” hadn’t robbed you of your child-like enthusiasm for “Lilo & Stitch”
- Your PowerPoint presentations carefully crafted to convince me to buy you things that you really didn’t need
obnoxiousimpressive athletic shoe collection
- Your dogged determination to turn things your way – like the way you pursued (and snagged) the perfect dorm room
- Your uncanny ability to the “investigate” a situation until you got the scoop
- The way you scheduled your future down to the last detail of how many children and grandchildren you’d have. Still not sure how you arrived at 60 grandchildren
- The way you loved BIG!
These things and a thousand more remain. Yet, love after death is uneven. It grows in odd twists and turns. It curls and coils from having no equal pull – like a houseplant that only receives the sun from one side. This unevenness hurts. It pulls our soul out of joint. Lopsided love leaves us unbalanced. We limp along with our hearts – broken, cockeyed, and heavy in our chests
Even so, there will come a day when all of the twists and turns will be made straight. Our hearts lifted; our souls aligned. In days of endless Light, Love will no longer grow crooked in the shadows.
Brooke is basking in that Light and Love now. If I’ve come to accept anything over these past 1,000 days, it is not to begrudge her that joy. I resist wishing her back for my own selfish comfort. Until we meet again, this momma’s challenge is to find ways to love her even better after death – a 1,000 ways better.
Dear Father, thank you for the comfort that you have provided over these 1,000 days. I pray that you will comfort all who love and miss Brooke as well as so many others who are counting their own days by the thousands. Let the example of the faith and trust shown by your son, Jesus, be our guiding Light – a light by which we can see to count the ways in which we can love one another. May your Holy Spirit forever be our constant companion, leading us along a path of hope until that day when we are untwisted and shed no more tears. This I pray through the name of your son, Jesus Christ. Amen!