I remember the day so well. We knew Brooke was dying. We told Lily Brooke was dying. But knowing death is coming doesn't really prepare you for it. It was the last week of school and Lily was in 5th grade. She didn't go to school that day; instead she tagged along on her preschool brother's playdate at our best friend's house. Nicholas (her brother) and his best friend (Jerry) squirted with water guns while she laughed. I remember thinking how lucky we were to have these friends who took us in for a playdate without a question.
I still feel so loved when I think of that memory.
Lily did not attend Brooke's funeral. She didn't want to, but she micromanaged our attendance. And for years after Brooke's death, she reminded me with regular frequency to check in on Brooke's mom, Amy. "Did you text Amy this week mom? What is she doing right now? Is she okay? You have to check in, Mom."
That's love, right there, friends.
Last year, Lily decided she was ready to go see Brooke's grave and to participate in her annual butterfly release. I was nervous for her. As strong as Lily is, I never know what could push her limitations or hurt her. But, I was a fool, because even though grief is horrible and even though the death of a child is unimaginable; love is always present and love is such a hero in every story.
After last year, she couldn't wait to go back to remember Brooke with butterflies again this year.
Brooke's Aunt stopped us to chat and introduce herself. She said to us, "Amy, just keeps making Brooke memories for us all."
And I never thought of it that way. Today, in the pouring rain under a gazebo with very sleepy butterflies and a whole bunch of people who loved Brooke, my daughter got to make more Brooke memories. Lily shared stories from her own life--her plans for the future. She hugged and chatted with Brooke's family. We all laughed and hugged and well, the love under that gazebo is just about the beautiful thing in the entire world.
And that's love, friends. Love endures death and sorrow. Love unites the grieving. Love is always the hero.