Happy Birthday to the one that got me through the worst year of life


I wanted to find a way to write about my daughter Brooke’s birthday, without offending or hurting those who may read my blog – specifically Moms who have lost a child.  But as I thought about it two things came to mind.

First, after meeting, talking and interacting with hundreds of these Moms, one thing I know for sure, they understand the love for a child.  They are some of the most special, amazing, diverse, loyal and beautiful souls on this earth. I hope by the end you Moms will see where I am going with this.

And second, I realized that even though January 12th, 1996 and the year following it was one of the toughest of my life, it also included some extraordinarily wonderful memories.   I’d never thought about that before.

When we lost Nicholas, he was 8 and his adorable baby sister Brooke was 1.  Nick loved her so much and after 7 years of being an only child, he was soooo excited by her arrival.  We have so many cute pictures of the two of them together and the smile on his face in every single one of them is so genuine.

After we lost him, Brooke became the main focus of the family.  I mean THE MAIN FOCUS!!!  She was the bright spot in those dark days for sure.  Family, friends and especially me just couldn’t get enough of Brookie.

In our efforts to find relief from our grief, we really filled that year with some special moments.  A trip to Phoenix to visit Grandma and Grandpa Blaney,  many family gatherings with Aunt Robin and Grandma Cam here in town, a trip to Myrtle Beach, an ear piercing session at the mall (she never cried) and a wayyyy premature Spring Break trip to Disney World.  She was entirely too young to appreciate or remember that trip, but I do.  I remember she preferred the hotel playground to Disney.  I remember a purchase of some over-sized stuffed animals.  I remember her unsure looks at the Character Breakfast (who is this big Goofy dog anyway?)  But we were determined to have fun – I mean it was Disney World, damn it!

As time went on, the years have been filled with tons of Brookie memories, including the very special day her little brother Collin was born, not too long after that first year.  And there on her face was the same look of adoration and genuine smile that her brother Nick has on his face when she was born.

Brooke and Collin have been a never-ending source of comfort in those early years as well as now.  I look at them and think, wow, even though crappy things happen, there is still so much good in this world!

So today Brooke, on your 24th Birthday, I wish you the happiest birthday ever.  Along with that wish comes the biggest “thank you” that I can give.  You gave me the greatest gift I have ever received and that was the gift of hope.

Which brings me back around to all those Moms who are hurting.  I know that many of you have found comfort in the love of your other children, not as a replacement, but like me, as a source of hope.  What hurts me is knowing there are many who do not have that immediate source of hope that I had.  Some have lost their only child.  Oh my goodness, some have lost more than one child.  So to you, I offer my love and friendship.  I understand that you have to dig deeper to find that hope.  Please remember that even in the midst of your darkest hours, there are precious moments to be found.  If you need my help, I am here.

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Karima Neghmouche