Although Brooklyn has only been with us for approximately 20 months, she has given us many memories that can last a lifetime. It would be appropriate to say Brooklyn's health challenges gave us some “not so pleasant moments” that are also part of those memories. Her previous near death experiences are episodes I wished she never had to endure, and frankly speaking, episodes I wish I never had to experience. They appeared to be physically traumatizing to her and certainly mentally, emotionally, and spiritually traumatizing to her family members. Suffice it to say that if this was the life that Brooklyn had to endure, then I consider it an extreme honor to have had the opportunity to walk every step right alongside of her.
Brooklyn was the name given to her at birth, but most people know her by her nickname “Brooky”. Brooky was born as a CHD baby, meaning she had a congenital heart defect. We knew of Brooklyn’s heart abnormality very early in Sheltaya’s pregnancy. I thank God for Sheltaya’s courage to carry and care for Brooky almost to full term. She delivered just two weeks shy of her due date. I am also thankful for the technological advances of modern medicine that helped us to prepare for Brooklyn’s potentially difficult health journey. That potential journey became our reality. What we didn’t prepare for, nor did we expect to receive, were the multiple blessings we experienced while spending time with Brooky. Brooky wasn’t just a blessing to the Williams family; she was a blessing to thousands around the world, evidenced by the many responses we have received throughout her journey. We always joked that Brooky was “Facebook Famous”.
Our decision to share Brooky’s story using social media was born out of need. When she faced her life threatening challenges, we needed to rally the people to prayer. We asked God for a miracle and he didn’t disappoint. We saw God work through her in miraculous ways. Brooky had a God given gift of smiling in the face of adversity. We knew she had many days and nights of discomfort, but she wouldn’t let you see it! She gives me a brand new perspective of the phrase “never let them see you sweat” We called her our warrior princess.
As a military veteran and a proud father of several children who continue to serve in the military, I make a distinction between those who are soldiers and those who are warriors. Soldiers can receive training and stand in preparation to fight in a battle; a warrior is one who has had to demonstrate their ability to fight in the midst of that battle. Our warrior princess demonstrated her commitment of not allowing her physically ailing and weak heart condition to take center stage of her powerful witness. She exhibited a very strong, tenacious, God-given spirit. She is my ultimate role model.
After Brooky passed away, I experienced something akin to losing my sense of mission. Serving alongside of Brooky was like serving in a major military campaign and then losing your leader. I initially felt lost with no sense of direction. Although I am grieving deeply, I came to the realization that Brooky was sent with a purpose. The way she lived out her days of life were a lesson to me and to many. Brooky took us through her own boot camp. She compelled us to look inwardly and to find hope in the face of great adversity. Her life encouraged us to seek a deeper relationship with God, to pray with more fervency and passion, and to hold onto faith in the midst of the greatest trial. I finally realized that Brooky was never ours to keep, but always ours to share. As members of the Brooky Brigade, that was our mission! Acknowledging this gave me new insight as to why she was able to smile. She was affirming that we were fulfilling her assignment. Now we must continue to share the lessons she taught us during her time with us.
Many people remember the special videos I would post about Brooky. I affectionately called it “Dude time” because all of our grandchildren call me Dude. I am glad I shared those videos, because now those special moments are forever archived. What I didn’t share in those videos is something I would whisper to Brooky just about every single day of her 596 days in the hospital. I would lean down and recite a portion of Isaiah 53 into Brooky’s ear; whether she was conscious or unconscious, facing death or full of joy, I would personalize it by saying
”By Jesus’ stripes, Brooky you are healed”.
I may mourn her departure from us, but I also celebrate that she is now free from the prison of her sickness. I thank God for the gift named Brooky.