One of the things I think we all fear when a child dies, or for that matter any one that is close to us, is the loss of the memories of them. As time passes year after year it feels as if there is this unspoken distance where I feel that it takes more effort to go back to a place in time and think of some of the great memories I have of her and our life together. Especially the last two years of her life. This has been my greatest fear of all.
As on that fateful day October 13th, 2006, the day she disappeared from my life, I feel that the memories are now fading away just as she did in a physical sense. While I do have videos, photos, a few items I’ve put together of hers that meant the most to her; it is know that she lives on in the memories of those who loved her most. Her friends have stayed connected with me over the years and I’ve been so grateful for that.
At Brittany’s funeral I spoke of them, yes I was actually able to speak which was a miracle in itself. They befriended my daughter, loved my daughter and became a very important part of her life, while many distanced themselves, bullied her, excluded her, all because she was a little different. But not her closest friends. And of course, the love of her life. I have such great memories of how they would hang out at our house on Eastlawn and we would have so much fun. As a mom, I cherished those times because I knew they meant the most to my girl.
At her funeral they got up and spoke about her and what being friends with her meant to them. I had no plans to speak at her funeral but after hearing their stories and seeing the dog tags they made in her honor, I felt compelled to speak. As many of her classmates stood in the back, as there was standing room only that day, I shared my gratitude to her friends for taking the time and investing in my daughter. They were given the greatest gift back and that was her devoted love of friendship, a terrific sense of humor and many hours of laughing. I felt so strongly that many did not know this side of Brittany. On that day I think a few realized just what they missed out on.
The memories I have of my daughter are firmly fixed upon my heart and soul and while the business of life distract me from sitting and just remembering her, I don’t ever think they will ever disappear. Today, the sweetest gift came to me in a text from one of her closest friends. She shared a memory that means a lot to her and little did she know that it would mean more to me. It gave me the greatest gift, better than anything material. And it’s this simple, but profound message…..
Brittany is still alive in her heart and she still feels connected to her through those memories. I wept when I read it, and I laughed when I read it. But most of all it touched my heart in a way I am sure she cannot imagine. For that I am and will be forever grateful.
It’s so very important to those of us who have lost our children, that we know they have not just disappeared from this earth, but that their memory, the impact they had on others, that the love shared has not disappeared, but perhaps even moved them into a space now that has made a difference to them. The lessons we learn from those departed can be the best lessons of all.
So if you live in GR, go sit on her bench and spend a few minutes remembering her and laughing out loud because you know she is…..
until next time