(Following a friend's example, in honor of my 30th birthday I have decided to post 30 things I have accomplished in my life in 30 years. So for the remaining 9 days leading up to my birthday watch for a new post each day celebrating these 30 things.)
One of the most surreal things that has happened in my 30 years is that on January 22, 2009 I watched my best friend take her last breath. You may remember from an earlier post that I am no stranger to being around death, or those who have lost loved ones, but until January 22 I had never been in the room just steps away from one you love as they breathe in their very last breath.
I certainly don't hope anyone HAS to have that experience - but to be present during such a sacred moment is certainly something for which I give thanks. No - I wish every day that I could have Brooke here with us, BUT if she had to go, and if she would no longer suffer - then I was thankful that I could be with her up until the very last moments of her time here on earth with us.
In honor and in memory of a woman who CONTINUES to touch my life today - I share with you the post I shared on January 24, 2009 right after we lost our dear dear Brooke. NBL Brooke... NBL.
"On Thursday, January 22, 2009 my dear friend Mary Ericka Brooke Schneitman passed away after a long struggle with Marfan Syndrome.
Brooke and I met in August 2005 when I first came to seminary and we quickly became friends. Brooke suffered an aortic dissection just 33 days after I met her - but it was very apparent during that first episode that she was insanely loved and cared for by the entire seminary community. We kept in touch during her recovery and I was insanely excited when she returned to Lexington the summer of 2006 to complete her seminary degree.
Although Brooke continued to struggle with the "side effects" of Marfan Syndrome, Brooke continued to live a very full life. Brooke has been a daughter, a sister, and a friend. Brooke has known intense friendships, romantic relationships, a great family and has offered intense amounts of love to everyone she meet. Brooke not only graduated college with a ministry degree, but successfully graduated with a Master of Divinity degree and was ordained as a minister in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).
Although I didn't know Brooke for very long if you're measuring in years - Brooke was most certainly one of my best friends. I could trust Brooke that I could always be myself, that she would be supportive and loving, but she also always managed to keep me honest with myself and grounded amid the chaos I call my life. She was an amazing friend, sister, counselor, angel and minister. She was also an amazing artist that was able to grasp the many emotions of life and make them tangible for many to see. She touched the lives of everyone she knew and will be missed by so many.
Brooke was an inspiration to me in many many ways. I find intense inspiration in the ways she approached her ministry and in the approach she took on life. I am most certainly a better person for having known her. I am inspired by her relationships and her friendships, and by her dedication and loyalty. She was passionate and focused, yet fun-loving and carefree all at the same time. Brooke's strength and resolve were unparalleled, and I only hope to keep alive the wonderful things that she taught so many. Brooke most certainly took the road less traveled, and while I'm sure it made all the difference for her - she also made an intense difference in the lives of those she met.
Brooke - I am so proud of you for being such an amazing woman - I have loved knowing you and I am so thankful that I got to be a part of your life, even for just a little while. I will miss you desperately - and I'm still struggling quite a bit with the idea that you won't be here. Your strength and passion for life will be remembered and honored. I know that you are at peace, and that you are no longer in pain - for which I am grateful. I love you Brooke - know that you were, are and will always be loved by many."
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