She entered our lives as our firstborn 21 years ago on February 19, 1990, Brooke Michelle. This little girl captured our hearts from the moment she entered our lives and we were forever changed. It is amazing how one so small can cause your heart to love so "big".
As she grew, she was unable to walk independently which after numerous tests led to a diagnosis of mild cerebral palsy--confirmed by three different doctors. We cried, we grieved, we laid it before God and trusted...and then we rallied, wanting to do "whatever was needed for our daughter." After surgery and physical therapy, she began to progress and was able to walk independently with her own little walker. I remember picking her up from her 2-3's Sunday School classroom. She was not being carried by the teacher. She was walking with her walker, proud as a little peacock because she was walking just like all the other kids. She saw me and yelled, "Mommy, see me walkin'!" Tears filled my eyes and I choked out, "Yes, sweet girl, I see you walkin'!"
Things changed in a short time. We noticed small differences. Our happy girl began to have episodes where she would cry for no apparent reason and we noticed that she struggled with her small motor skills. Red flag. Shortly before her third birthday, she was diagnosed with the terminal disease Metachromatic Leukodystrophy (MLD). We again cried, grieved and laid it before our Almighty God. We realized how shallow our grief had been with the diagnosis of mild cerebral palsy and we wished for that diagnosis once again.
We wanted Brooke to know that she was loved...MUCH. We would tell her, "Brooke, mommy and daddy love you very much but who loves you the most?" And her little voice would pipe out, "Jesus!"
MLD is a cruel, ugly disease. It robbed our daughter of almost all her physical abilities. It robbed her of her ability to walk, crawl and sit. It caused drooling and weight loss. Her speech became slow and drawn out until a time when it was no more. I remember one of the last times I was able to HEAR her say, "I....love....you." I will never forget. The end months, when her little voice was no longer heard, were deafening. But she spoke through her eyes....those BIG, BROWN BEAUTIFUL EYES. Her eyes spoke volumes and told us how she felt. They were dull on "bad" days but oh, how they sparkled on her "good" days. She would also "speak" through blinking her eyes. "Brooke, if you are thirsty, blink your eyes for mommy." This worked incredibly well for communicating. At this point in time, when we asked her, "Brooke, mommy and daddy love you very much but who loves you the most?" She would slowly close her eyes and leave them shut for a few seconds. Her "blinking" was her "voice" answering. We would then say, "Yes, sweet girl, you are right, Jesus does."
Four days after her 4th birthday on February 23, 1994, God called our sweet little girl to heaven. She has been there for 17 years in the caring arms of the One who loves her the most. He created her. He delighted in showing His glory through her little life. Since that day, we have always talked about Brooke and the gift she was. Her life pointed us to Christ in a way that we would have never experienced without her...and we are forever thankful. I would never desire to go through this kind of trial again. It was heartbreaking...but I would never trade those 4 short years of being Brooke's mommy for anything in this life.