I often post photos of my daughter at or around her death. I’m not sure if there is any significance to that other than it was how I remember her most. The vibrancy of her soul oozes out of each photo. One might even be able to stare into her eyes and see what a beautiful person she was, inside and out.
In the last months of her life she chose different paths than I would have predicted. She became less focused on material things, which for a teenager seemed a bit out of character. When months before it was “mom, I need this movie or I need a new cell phone” – it was always “I need”. Then the summer before her death she changed. She began to ask “Can I go buy a card and balloon for a friend at school?” or “Can I go read to kindergarteners?” – I remember thinking “who is this child?”. It’s as if her old soul knew that her time was near.
I knew my daughter pretty well, but it was after her death did I understand the beautiful young woman she truly was becoming. Her friends and classmates wrote about her either on her memory board at her Celebration of Life or in cards sent to me in the weeks after. I found out she had a passion to help others who did not feel accepted. She would often come to the “rescue” of student at school and tell people to give them a chance. Perhaps she understood how it felt more than people knew what it was like to be ousted and often times bullied by her peers.
One of her school friends sent me this note and it truly helped me in the weeks and months after Brittany’s death. We had dealt with so much pain and sadness over her school years and I found it touching that perhaps in hindsight people remembered her for who she truly was. Here is a little snippet from that letter:
At 17, Brittany was wise beyond her years and loved with every fiber of her being. All along I thought I was raising my daughter when in fact, she was here to teach me about life. It took her death and the days and weeks after to realize that. In fact, I’m still learning every day what a gift life is and how God moves in ways to create space for learning those valuable lessons.
Perhaps with the busyness of life, school, work and managing a chronic illness – we all got lost in the day-to-day getting by and may have missed those beautiful moments. I was privileged to have been witness to just a few, but I know for sure there were far more than I ever knew.
The lesson here is to stop and enjoy those moments when they happen. Don’t let life get in the way of experiencing who your children are as people. The gifts they are from God, which are lessons for us all to learn. Sometimes the lessons are not comfortable or it seems like the world is against us, but in reality it’s a life lesson to share with others. So put down the phones, the cameras, the videos, work and go out into the world with your children and experience life as it’s happening. It will be in those moments you will come to understand the awesome human being they are and more importantly who you are.
Until next time,