Tuesday, August 9, 2011

For Baby Brookelyn

I do not know Momma J personally she was a member of the Feb 2010 momma's group on WhatToExpect.com and I have gotten to know her gradually over the last 18 or so months. She and her family live in Canada and have three absolutely beautiful children. Two daughters and a new son who was born a few months ago. A happy little family you might think, and I am sure they are happy most of the time. There is a shadow though one that lingers and should haunt us all. Momma J had to experience a mother's very worst nightmare, the loss of a child. No death is easy, most especially the death of a child, a baby. However this loss is all the more difficult because their middle daughter, Baby Brookelyn, was taken from them not by an illness, or defect, or SIDS, or even an accident. No, Brookelyn was a victim of a caregiver's abuse. I sat in shock a year ago reading a status message on Facebook where Momma J revealed she and her family had had to say goodbye to their sweet Angel. I was even more shocked to learn why. Momma J cannot talk about her case because she is actively seeking justice for her little girl and wants no wayward detail to compromise her case. That is understandable. At the same time she also doesn't want Brookelyn forgotten, and she shouldn't be. Every day children in our world are abused. Some of them make it, and grow to become amazing individuals, some of them repeat the cycle of abuse with others, some of them are called home. A year ago a caregiver decided that Brookelyn had no right to her life, that her inner candle should be extinguished. There is no excuse that can be made for this woman that I can think of. Personally I cannot imagine living with myself after causing the death of anyone. Momma J has had to be an incredibly strong woman. To have to look into the eyes of a person who snuffed out such a bright and shinning little girl..... I cannot imagine. :(  I am sure this person had some reason for deciding Brookelyn's fate the way she did. I am sure she will have a defense. I am certain that it will not be nearly enough. Even if she were to walk free forgiven by the justice system she will certainly one day have to stand before God and explain herself. We are all judged in the end.

The one spot of light in this short story is that while this woman set out to extinguish Brookelyn's inner flame she did not succeed. Brookelyn's candle will forever burn brightly so long as we remember her and remember what happened to her. Brookelyn will light the way to a greater awareness of the issues surrounding child abuse. Brookelyn has changed my family's life and we never even met her. I am more careful with who Nicholas is with and where he is at all times. Not because I believe Momma J was not careful but because I now see that it could happen to anyone. I am also more appreciative of my son. I thank God daily for every dirty diaper, every broken toy, every sleepless night, and every single temper tantrum. Even though there are other things I enjoy more about my son I realize that these are also gifts. I am reminded that Momma J doesn't have smash cake photos from Brookelyn's first birthday. She never got to see her crawl, or hear her laugh. I treasure each and every memory and each and every experience good or bad that I have with Nicholas. I truly am thankful. I am also thankful for Momma J for being a role model of sorts on how to be a strong woman. I am thankful that she is sharing Brookelyn's story and that she is using her experience to try and prevent this from happening to another family. Baby Brookelyn will forever be remembered as will baby Chase who has his own farewell post on this blog after having passed from SIDS. Nicholas and I will in a show of support for Momma J and her family will be sending a Balloon up to baby Brookelyn. If Brookelyn's story can prevent even ONE more family from going through this terrible pain then Momma J can claim victory. Brookelyn's light, shining so very brightly, has touch me deeply both as a person and more specifically as a mother. Momma J shared a photo of some of her last moments with her daughter, holding tightly to a little Angel who was going to slip away. I don't know a mother alive who wouldn't be moved to tears, as I just was, looking at such a special moment. A moment that changed everything forever.

Child abuse is a serious issue that doesn't get nearly the attention it deserves. Before being allowed to take Nicholas home from the hospital my husband and I were required to watch a video on shaken baby syndrome. Nobody stayed in the room to make sure we DID watch it, and as I recall I slept through most of it. Nobody asked us questions to make sure we understood or provided us additional information about it either. The routine was the same for all three of the video's we had to watch. The lack of importance that was placed on such matters is now, looking back, a little shocking. Nobody tells you what you really need to know about choosing caregivers, or about what to do if you suspect somebody you know is abusive. There is little attention given to cases of neglect or even to murder unless you happen to hide the fact from the police like a certain Florida mother we all know. I can't imagine the pain Momma J experienced watching that woman go free! We should all be aware of abuse though, we should all be on the lookout for it. Not to say we all have to be paranoid but be attentive. Look and listen and don't make excuses for what you hear with your ears or see with your eyes. This goes way beyond dueling parenting methods or green living or nutrition beliefs. This isn't something that can be argued, it simply is a fact of life we all need to work to change. It is not acceptable. Change cannot be brought about by those who sit by on the sidelines and never speak up. Change requires action and we should all be involved. Look at your children, right now, go on look, and imagine a life without them. Imagine that they were suddenly taken from you for no reason at all. Imagine that they were hurt by someone. Can you stomach the thought? No? I thought not. This happens though, every day, and every day people turn a blind eye. No more, we can't do it anymore. Now you know Brookeyln though I cannot share a photo with you they are not mine to share. You know her story though and you can no longer be blind. Brookelyn's light will not allow child abuse to dwell in the shadows and neither should we!

Momma J, thank you for sharing Brookelyn with us all. You are the most amazing mother I have the privilege of knowing. I cannot truly understand how difficult today must be for you all. I hope that you know that my family as well as countless others are praying for you and your family not just today, but every day. Thank you for letting us in on the private last moments as heartbreaking as they were. Brookelyn will NEVER be forgotten, not by me, not by Nicholas, and I suspect not by a lot of other WTE mommies. Even though we are not close by please know to that we are releasing our Balloons and lighting a candle in memory of Brookelyn and out of deep respect for you. I cannot recall having such admiration for somebody in my entire life as I have for you now. Thank you for sharing Brookelyn's light, for shining it on such a serious issue and for doing what you can to make sure it cannot happen again. My prayers are with you in your continued fight for justice. You have such a network of support even if you cannot see us all, we are still here and we will remember you and Brookelyn always and will remember the message of awareness as well. (((HUGS)))) from us to you, I know it perhaps isn't much but it is what we can give you from so far away.

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