The holiday weekend is over and Emily competed for her 5th and final time at Miss Texas Teen USA. As you remember after Jude passed, literally the day after, Emily announced on stage at Miss Dallas that she would be competing again. It was a shock to us but she said if Jude never gave up then she wasn't either. I love her determination. So Emily's father Joe loaded her up on Thanksgiving night and they drove to Houston. Mike and I caught a Southwest flight on Saturday and made it to Houston mid afternoon. I missed seeing her in swimsuit preview and seeing her before she went into interview but she sent me pictures. Friends that were in attendance also sent me video's. The holiday again wasn't easy. I missed Jude and I missed his nurses. I missed loading Jude and Allan up and heading to Houston with our dogs and all of Jude's medical equipment in tow. I missed running up to the room to kiss Jude before we watched Emily's events but I can say without a shadow of a doubt I felt Jude there with us. In fact as Mike and I went nervously into finals Mike opened his phone and there was a picture of Jude. As they called the top 15 out of 113 girls I looked down at Mike's phone and saw Jude's smiling face. Then we heard "You're not dreaming it's Fort Worth - Emily Lites!" I literally screeched...........forgive me if you were there, lol! We were thrilled. Emily finally had the opportunity to compete in the top 15 and it was well deserved. She looked stunning this past weekend and we are very proud. Emily's adorable friend Kirby captured the title. We truly enjoyed the weekend with wonderful friends and family. The family took a break this year and didn't fly or drive back until Monday. It was nice not to rush, fight traffic going home, and sleeping in a bit before we left.
I have had questions this year about how pageants must be full of drama and many misconceptions usually brought on by the media. So I thought I would tell my perspective of the last few years. I have seen Emily grow from this experience through each success and through each disappointment. I have seen her form lasting friendships with the girls, director, and sponsors. I have seen girls literally take their jewelry and competition items off to lend them to a girl who had something break so they could quickly go on stage only to hand it right back so the lender could then hit the stage (not even kidding). I have seen girls bring spare items just in case someone needed it. This came in handy when a girl accidentally burnt her swimsuit with a curling iron and another girl handed her a very expensive swimwear so she could compete. I remember the first time Emily stepped into teen competition we attended a meeting at Miss America. Emily ended up choosing the USA but at that meeting they told us to look around that at least one or more of your bridesmaids will be in this room. The friendships they make are that strong.
The girls train all year long. Emily exercises so she can compete in swimwear (which is being changed next year to athletic wear which I prefer). She then generally meets with interview coaches twice a month who also help her mentally prepare. They go over public speaking, current events, and being confident in yourself. One of the best pieces of advice she received through training was " Once you compare yourself to someone else you have already lost because you are your own person." Emily has to keep her grades up, watch her social media posts to make sure they are acceptable, and she cannot immerse herself in any negative situations. The girls have multiple lessons for all phases of competition. It's a lot of work! It's not just showing up one day on a stage and smiling. I was a tomboy when I was a little girl. I loved fishing, hunting, and anything outdoors. I never dreamed my daughter would compete in the Miss USA system but it's been a blast. I am not sure if Emily will go on to compete in miss but if she decides she wants to in the future we will continue to support her. Here are some of her proofs from the weekend.
We missed this little face and I so wish he was there to wear Emily's little button and cheer on his sister but I am sure he was in spirit. My heart still hurts very much and I am still trying to make it through each day with a forced smile but I know Jude loves us and is our angel. I am not sure how Christmas will go but we are trying to march forward.