The other night at our house we were talking to Emily about several situations in high school that she would probably encounter. A part of that conversation focused around students and friends that would pass away. Emily half listened to us as we explained that when tragedy strikes fate doesn't give any preference to popularity or grades. It was ironic we just had this conversation.
Friday before I left work Emily texted me: " Mom, a friend of mine was in a car wreck can I make her a Smile Box?". Emily is very laid back, quiet, and naive so when I got her text I got a really bad feeling in the pit of my stomach. I called Em and when she answered I said "Who was in the accident Em?". "Aubrey" she said. "AUBREY?" I asked in shock. Aubrey was the all American popular athlete of her school with a heart of gold. Emily had stayed the night at her house on New Years Eve. Emily said she knew Aubrey was care flighted but didn't have any further information. Being an adult I knew that being care flighted meant she was fighting for her life. I went home and tried to pry more information from Emily, but she didn't know a lot. She said her friend was in surgery but she wasn't sure what the surgery was for and she was waiting by her phone. My mind ran through scenarios from my childhood and I hoped this situation would have a better ending.
Emily sat down beside me on the couch. She had eaten lunch everyday at school with Aubrey, but all she could talk about was her own best friend Kaylee. Kaylee and Aubrey known each other VERY well and Emily was very worried for Kaylee. Then Em got a text that Aubrey had come out of surgery and everything was fine. We breathed a little easier and I promised I would take her to the hospital the next morning. We got conflicting messages regarding Aubrey's health the rest of the night but hoped for the best.
Saturday morning we got up and took Emily to JPS hospital. We met our friend there and we all got lost in the maze of corridors...........we were frustrated but I think this may have been Gods timing. Somehow he always seems to know where people should be. We finally made our way to the appropriate waiting room and we walked in on grave news. Aubrey's bloodflow had been restricted to her brain due to massive swelling. So we all huddled into chairs in ICU. I knew this was going to be a long morning.
As a parent we trust our instincts to guide us in sad situations, but I wasn't sure what to do. I knew that the restriction of bloodflow would have a very poor outcome. I knew this because of Jude's brain and everything we have learned, however I kept hope. I hugged Emily and I nervously sat down between she and her friend. They were all quiet so I finally got up and walked towards Mike who was relying on the window to keep him up and waited there with him while scrolling on my phone. We were hidden behind a sectional and suddenly I heard someone scream out with pain and I knew what had happened. I came around the corner and my heart broke for Emily and for her friend. Despite whether you are close to someone or not when they play a role in your life their loss is always great. I walked to Emily who looked very confused and to her friend. They looked at me and I saw Emily mouth "what??" I said "She is gone Emily" and she burst into tears. I didn't know what to say. I didn't know what to do (I just cried). I just knew Emily needed some time with her friends. So I walked on the other side of the elevator and I cried..................I cried because I felt so guilty that...........I was grateful it wasn't my child. I felt so selfish! DAMMIT why was I being selfish!!!! Walking out of the unit I bent down to pick up a white box decorated with such emotion and handed it to Emily. It said "Emily's Smile Boxes" on the label and on the back it had a long note to Aubrey about being strong. Emily looked down at the unused box and burst into tears. "Why mom? why? I don't understand because it seems so unfair!". Mike saw me tear up and he responded, "Emily it's just random chaos........when it makes sense for those that are sick it makes no sense for those that aren't. Right now no one will have the right answer". True.
I told Emily that she needed to let us know when it was the right time to leave the hospital and she took that literally. Hours later we were still in the ICU wing. I think Emily wanted to see her friend Aubrey, but it wasn't the time. I also think she was really worried about her friend Kaylee and didn't want to leave her either. So we were in a bind. So therefore, I texted my sister who is a youth pastor and asked for her guidance. Soon I sat down next to Aubrey's loving but shocked friends and said "My sister is a pastor and she is going to come pray with you guys and then it's probably time to leave so the family can have some time to themselves". Tracy had pushed this too and he knew it was time to go. The girls were so mature and just accepted that explanation. So my amazing sister showed and held a large prayer circle in the ICU unit of JPS. We all joined hands and while in the midst of prayer even more people came and nudged their way in. Hands were grasping other hands without a glance. My sister spoke the perfect words and everyone on our side was finally able to break apart for awhile. However, my heart ached for Aubrey's parents who I knew were struggling with her loss. I wasn't even sure what to say to them. This wasn't my personal loss............or maybe it was a loss through my child's innocence, but no one knew Aubrey's parents pain........no one.
In my life I have shared the loss of many people. My mother was only 28.......Chris was 15, My grandmother, grandfather, aunt, Luis at 18, and so many more. It really doesn't matter how many funerals you attend, it never gets easier especially when it's unexpected and that of a young amazing life. It's also never okay when it's your own child. So tonight I sat the Aubrey's vigil and my friend Melanie sat next to me. I realized that life had come full circle. We laid our friend Luis to rest at only 18 together and now we sat with our children as they laid their friend to rest. My heart broke for her family just like it broke for Luis's so many year ago. We supported each other during the vigil and found our children after. Life is cruel it seems no matter what age you are so all you can do is trust in God's plan.
I cried so much today. My main reason for crying is because I cannot imagine what Aubery's family is going through. It's just to much to comprehend. Tonight Emily asked me, "but Mom what will her parents do with all her medals and specials awards". (She was named all around best female athlete at their school). I said "Well I Guess they will just............cherish them". They will just celebrate her amazing life Emily and what a life that was."
Maybe they will feel like this one of my most favorite quotes,
“How very softly you tiptoed into our world, almost silently, only a moment you stayed. But what an imprint your footsteps have left upon our hearts.” Dorothy Ferguson
This was someone's newborn, someone's sister, someone's daughter, and someone's friend.
This is not my tragedy, but it's one I felt needed to be shared because I know the loss of an amazing life. Emily and many others like Kaylee do not understand this loss. So I think we should be there, but only if they need us to be.