I'm taking a break from my normal snarkiness today; don't worry, I'm sure it will return. I feel compelled to share a personal story that has touched me deeply and will no doubt continue to affect me for years to come. I wanted to introduce you to my dear friend, Diana Brookins.
I met Diana, several years ago, doing community theatre. Her mother, Kim, had started a local theatre called HART, and she and I met doing a play there. Diana was in a grade ahead of me at school, but her brother, Jeremy, was my age. She and I bonded, and continued meandering in and out of each others lives as we traveled paths that occasionally intersected. We always picked up right where we left off. Imagine our surprise, when on one such occasion, we both found ourselves to be pregnant and due within a week of each other. We immediately started making play date plans and as luck would have it, we were both having girls.
While my pregnancy was less than desirable, with the constant morning/noon/night sickness, mine couldn't even hold a candle to what Diana went through. Around 16 weeks, Diana found out she had gall stones that were serious enough to need surgery to remove. What appeared to be a successful surgery had horrific repercussions. Something went wrong and Diana suffered numerous infections and 9 more surgeries, including gastro-intestinal reconstruction, to correct the initial surgery. She endured all of this while pregnant, refusing to terminate the pregnancy, even though it could potentially save her life.
On July 17th, Julia Bell was born via cesarean, very premature, but it was necessary as Diana had kidney, liver and heart failure due to a staph infection. A heart valve transplant was imminent and crucial. However, the doctors decided to hold off on the transplant and let her go home.
Diana died July 25th, at home, but not before she was able to hold her baby for the first and last time. She was 25 years old.
Why am I telling you this? Because while I lost my friend, Kim lost her daughter and Jeremy lost his sister, it's Julia who has suffered the most, because she lost her mother and she'll never know how wonderful her mother was firsthand. I'm telling you, because she'll hear about all of the great things her mother did and the beautiful person that she was, but her mother will never be there to tuck her in at night or read her her favorite story. I'm telling you, because her mother will miss her first day of school and she won't be there to comfort Julia when she has her first broken heart. I'm telling you, because her mother will miss her prom, her wedding and the birth of her own first child.
I'm telling you, because we need to hug our own children a little tighter tonight.... because we can.
While it saddens me to reminisce, I often find myself thinking of Diana when I've had an especially hard day with the kids. Because even though my job might suck at times, I know Diana would give anything to be here for Julia and I feel very fortunate to be here for my children. And I hug them a little tighter. Diana will never know how many lives she has touched and, who knows, perhaps she has touched just a few more.
Pictures taken from an online memorial.