Tuesday, November 16, 2010

A Beautiful Goodbye

When I was young, I thought funerals were a waste of time.

My grandparents died in the 1960s, and my mother took pictures of them in their open caskets.

I thought it was morbid and depressing, and I vowed I'd never have a funeral myself.

Then, I got old enough to watch my father and mother and a close friend die.

I realized how comforting it was to be with friends and relatives and to tell stories about the loved ones we had lost. These funerals were exhausting, but they were also uplifting. Instead of grieving alone, it was good to be part of a community of people saying goodbye and promising to remember.

That is how I think of the day Skylar Tianna Brooks was born.

I was honored to be invited to be with her parents, Shannon and Kip Brooks, at the hospital as they prepared for her birth and celebrated her 99 minutes of life.

Shannon and Kip got to hold their baby and tell her how much they loved her. Their 2-year-old son Jadon got to see his baby sister and touch her perfect fingers and toes. Those of us who had waited outside during the delivery got to see the couple smiling and crying -- but most of all at peace.

After Skylar died, we each got to hold her and have our pictures made with Shannon and Kip, pictures they showed at the memorial service later and have posted on Facebook for all the world to see.

Someone could have thought, as I might have years ago, that this was all morbid and depressing.

But those of us who were there know how beautiful and meaningful it was.

I hated to leave. And the next day, I couldn't stop thinking of how warm and wonderful it had felt in that room with the late afternoon sun shining through the window, casting an other-worldly golden glow.

As one of their friends put it later: "It was magical. A miracle."


Anonymous said...

Thank you, Karen, for a beautiful story beautifully told. Yes, this couple are amazing in their openness and their willingness to share their difficult story. But the tact with which you told it was near-perfect.

You never veered into the treacly and you didn't let it become preachy; it's a fine line to walk.

I'm always thankful when a story can touch me in some deep, undefinable way. This was one of those stories. Though I'm not a parent and I've certainly never been through something like the Brookses, I'm taking a lot from this series.

Anonymous said...

The struggle in dealing with all they did is awful and thoughts and prayers go out to them, hopefully some good will come out of it. The Story has been great except for one thing.......

Being a small town I happen to know the situation between “Jan” and “Shannon” well. What is being put out there is inaccurate regarding their relationship.

There were many facts of “Jan” the unsupportive friend doing for them during their difficult time that somehow never made the story. Such as going to Doctor’s appointment with them and taking them out to dinner after, being present at the family photo, as well as purchasing gift’s for the unborn baby… Somehow doesn’t seem all that unsupportive to me. I know Jan, and I can tell you there would never be an unreturned call or never a time where she wouldn’t help anybody in anyway, including giving the shirt off her back.
But I guess ALL THE CORRECT INFORMATION wouldn’t make the story as interesting, it’s too bad that such a good woman and class act (doing for others in the back ground not wanting any credit) has to be portrayed in a bad light. The Observer must have thought it might stir up more interest (Got to have conflict). I think their journey and your story would have been fine with all the facts....

Anonymous said...

Wow...I didn't see Jan being portrayed that negatively. There was actually a lovely picture of her in the paper. I believe that all of these stories have a "Jan", someone who doesn't understand the parents' decision at first but then has a change of heart. I'm sorry anonymous feels so strongly that Jan was misrepresented.

Anonymous said...

The sad part was "Jan" understood their decision and encouraged them to follow their heart, as she had done not long before while caring for her husband. Then she took the time to tell me and others in the community not to judge them. We watched her through the whole ordeal and her heart did not change: it was full of pride and love throughout the whole journey.

SouthernBelle said...

What a truly emotional, heart wrenching yet uplifting story. I am in awe of their strength. Skylar was such a blessed soul to have been loved so much by this beautiful family. I thank them for sharing their story with us.

Anonymous said...

I am sure I will be attacked for saying this, and I feel nothing but the utmost sympathy for this family. But I feel these precious health care resources would have been better spent for children that do have a chance with better prenatal care to live a long normal life. With the health care debate that we have today, I think it is important to take note of the money that was spent to allow this child 99 min of life when many mothers without insurance get no prenatal care at all.

Anonymous said...

If you read the story through, you will see that Skylar's birth was well-worth the money it cost for her care. Look at what the parents were able to do just because this lovely little girl was born. They changed the whole world of organ donation! Think how many lives that will improve, how many other babies who need transplants will live just because of Skylar! It is mind-boggling!! In the 99 minutes she lived she touched everyone in the room. She touched many more lives because of her parents' unselfish drive to change a protocol that was preventing parents who lost their precious little ones too soon in life, to be able to make their short lives count by helping others. I don't think that is a waste of dollars.

Anonymous said...

I can't believe anyone was able to derive negativity in the comments about "Jan" in the story. I saw this person as an honest straighforward person who was not afraid to express her concerns for Shannon, as any of us would. But then she fully supported the family and sounds like a friend anyone would love to have. She should go back and read the story again. She is seeing something there that I don't. I see nothing but good in those comments, not a bit af negativity.