Losing An Arm

One summer while I was in middle school, I was in an ATV wreck that left me with terrible road rash all over my right leg and arm.  At the time, the accident and injuries were incredibly painful…I felt like it would impact my life forever.  How was I going to prove my manliness with scars that told a story about a kid from Texas who couldn’t properly drive an ATV?!?  This is an important and respected skill growing up in Texas.  I ended up following my doctor’s orders to prevent scaring – I soaked and scrubbed the wounds/scabs every night until they were gone.  (Sorry for the gross mental picture)  The wounds healed, and I only think about the accident when I want to tell a cool story about how a kid from Texas endured pain to keep his “Man Card” and maintain his unblemished skin for the ladies.  The event didn’t materially change my life, and I don’t remember the date.

Since losing Brooklyn, we have experienced a weird phenomenon.  The calendar carries a particular weight it didn’t have in the past.  Holidays, Birthdays, and certain dates will never be the same…especially Nov. 14th & March 13th.  Corrie spoke to this in a previous post.  My friend, Matt Mooney, and his family experienced one of these crappy dates on the calendar last Sunday.  October 27, 2013 marked 7 years since their first son, Eliot, passed away.

Corrie and I have been scared that our memories of Brooklyn will diminish over time.  Will we forget what it felt like to hold her, what her cute noises sounded like, how hard she fought?  We don’t want to forget these and so many other memories…ever!  Matt wrote on his blog last week as they approached 10/27/2013 and directly spoke to those of us who are early grievers.  He boldly stated – “It does not get better with time.”  Wait…what? Matt isn’t some random voice on the internet, I trust this guy.  This sucked to hear.   I’ve heard various people over the last 7 1/2 months tell me that “it” gets better.  At the time, I always wanted to believe this because it was better than the alternative.  If I’m honest, for some odd reason I couldn’t genuinely believe them and believe it was possible.  Another friend, Shelley, who lost her 13 year old daughter almost 4 years ago to leukemia told me that her and her husband have gotten “used” to it.  Surprisingly, this resonated with me more and provided me with hope.  I could see myself getting “used” to living with our new normal rather than getting “better”.

In his post, Matt elaborated and likened the situation to someone who has lost an arm vs. a mere flesh wound.  The more I have thought about it over the past couple days, I’m OK with “losing an arm”.  I’m OK with it because, like Matt points out, the reality of the loss will remain indefinitely, but we will adapt to living every day with it.  This reality looks like joy, sadness, longing, pain, frustration, failure, celebration, and all of the overwhelming emotions we have experienced.  I’m grateful for this reality because it provides me hope that Brooklyn’s memory and impact won’t disappear like a cut or wound.  This isn’t some type of defeated pessimistic view of our future.  It’s hope in the reality that Jesus has written our story in such a way to continue to point us back to Him.  When I think about Brooklyn, miss holding her, get angry that I’ll never get to walk her down the aisle at her wedding, encounter awkward questions about if we have kids, etc. I have another opportunity to ask Jesus for strength, peace, and courage.  Regardless of the joy and pain in our unique individual stories, we all have the opportunity to engage The Lord to receive what He has for us in that moment.  I definitely don’t do this every time.  Thankfully, when this happens, I typically realize that whatever I’m doing to alleviate or avoid the pain isn’t sustainable.  I need Jesus.  He is enough.

Today, I’m thankful for Brooklyn, I’m thankful for Corrie, and I’m thankful for the people in the club we are in…especially Matt, Ginny, and Eliot Mooney.

The wounds from my ATV accident healed, and the pain is gone.  Unlike that incident, my life was radically impacted by Brooklyn.  I’m thankful that “things don’t get better” after Brooklyn passed.  This pain and suffering aren’t being wasted.  Our story isn’t complete, and we have a lot of unknown territory in front of us.  I can’t and won’t forget Brooklyn.  I need Corrie, these friends, and Jesus.


Matt’s full blog post I referenced: http://theatypicallife.com/blog/uncategorized/7-cussing-the-calendar/

You can read more about how we got introduced to the Mooneys and their story in our previous post: 99 Days!

The Brooklyn Bridge

When Adam and I were in NYC a couple of weeks ago, we had a chance to do something to honor Brooklyn. We think about her every day; all the time. But, there’s something therapeutic or healing about doing something.

During our stay a few months ago in London we were walking along the London bridge and noticed a bunch of locks that people had put on the bridge and each lock was engraved with an inscription about a couples’ undying love, etc. Our favorite one looked like this:


We just couldn’t help but read it in a ridiculously peppy scandinavian accent and wonder if they meant indefinitely? Either way, it was a gem to find.

When we learned that this is done on the Brooklyn bridge as well, we thought it would be a perfect opportunity to remember Brooklyn on our visit. It was a beautiful, sunny day as we walked across the bridge from Brooklyn with my little brother, Trevor, and his girlfriend, Tina. We found a perfect spot to put our lock – on a lamp post with a kitty and cross bones. I thought it was appropriate, representing our little ones sweetness and fierceness all at the same time 🙂 After some photo ops, I read the verse out loud that we had engraved on the bottom.

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

 And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”  And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment.  The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son.

Revelation 21:3-7

We told God that it just sucks that we even have to do this and we won’t get to take our Brooklyn to walk across the bridge in this life.  We told Him it’s not fair, and that we can’t wait for Him to come back and live with us and make this place into a world where babies never die. It was a sad moment, an honest moment, but one we won’t ever forget. And maybe God will save that iconic bridge to be part of the new earth where He’ll live with us, and maybe the three of us will get to walk it with Brooklyn one day? And, maybe we’ll stumble upon an old gold lock and we will run all the way across to the other side trampling on the curses of the earth.


Brooklyn Olivia Hull

11.14.12 – 3.13.13

In our hearts forever

In our arms again in His time.

Revelation 21:3-7

If you happen to be on the Brooklyn Bridge, here is a link to the exact location of the lock:  Brooklyn’s Lock on the Brooklyn Bridge

-Brooklyn’s Mommy

Hamster Wheel

Grief feels full of U-turns. 

Coming to a place of, not even happy, just not sad seems like it might be just over the hill. And, then all of a sudden as I’m reaching the top I get turned around and feel like I’m headed back to where I started. 

I have no energy to do anything today. I tried to sleep for as long as I could in order to just not be awake. Because when I’m awake, I feel. And feeling means pain. This is pretty much what the last 36 hours have felt like. I’m so tired of crying. I wish I could distract myself from it and watch TV or a movie, but that makes it worse. It all feels meaningless.

I’ve really wanted to write all of these happy posts about our trip to New York, or meaningful, hopeful things about yesterday – Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day – but I feel like I’ve been rung out and have no energy to muster up any happy.

I feel hopeless today. I feel like my life will always just hurt. There’s no way out. No fix. 

I’m mad that 7 months has gone by and there’s no sign of us being parents any time soon. Just more longing. Just more isolation. Just more of other families getting pregnant. Just more of buying baby gifts and cards for other people. I feel like the clock is just ticking in my ear and everyone around me is getting closer to getting pregnant and having a healthy, happy family. I want less pain, but it all seems to be getting worse. 

I’m anxious about her first birthday coming up, about the memories, about Thanksgiving and learning of her diagnosis. I’m anxious about reliving each day we had with her in my memory until March 13th, and then reliving the nightmare of the days, weeks and months following that. I feel stuck in a hamster wheel of pain. 

When will life feel good again, instead of just feeling like pain, distraction from pain and numb?

No bow ties on this one, again, just tears. 

-Brooklyn’s Mommy

A window

Here’s an article I came across that encompasses a lot of how I feel. Although, a little different since we were blessed enough to have some time with our little one.

A window

And another one that rings more true in different ways.

Let Me Tell You Who I Am Now

Jetty Rae’s little girl was stillborn last year. She released this EP on what would have been her little girls first birthday.

I know the clouds in the video are more likely representing her dreams of her child and her future, but I feel like the scenes where the clouds are following her is a really good imagery of how my grief feels sometimes. Whatever I do, it’s always there.

Somewhere only We know

We were in NY since Wednesday. There will be other posts about that later. But, this is about right now.

Riding the subway one evening I saw a man who’s neck and upper portions of his spine were curved over enough so that, without straining, all he could see was his feet. He couldn’t see the people in front of him, he surely couldn’t see anyone behind him. He couldn’t see the signs for the trains. At one point, he made a fist with his hand and propped it underneath his chin and physically forced his head up. And, even still he had to strain his eyes to go as far up as they could to see which train was coming on which track, etc.

I wanted to cry for the man right then and there.

I wanted to ask him if he wanted some help reading the signs.

I wanted Jesus to come back.

I can’t imagine a life where you only see your feet and the ground beneath you. One stair at a time; never the top of the staircase, the top of the building, the top of the mountain, the sky, faces. How isolating. How lonely. How…limiting.

I mean reality is, there is a whole world around him. It exists. He knows it exists. He just can’t see it all at one time. And, I’m sad that this man has to live with this pain. This pain that reaches far beyond the physical. But, I also see my pain in his. The fight, the struggle, to see beyond the “right nows”.

Right now I see an empty house with an empty nursery upstairs.

Right now I see empty arms.

Right now I see babies everywhere, but Brooklyn is never one of them.

Right now I see pregnant bellies and look down and see my empty womb.

Right now I see tears.

I long to see road signs for what’s up ahead. I long to see the top of the staircase from where I stand. I long to see the mountain top from the valley I lay in. I long to see faces that aren’t marked with the discomfort my pain makes them feel.

Even when I lift my chin up to see what I can see, it’s uncomfortable and painful because Brooklyn is not there. I have to look far beyond the physical to see Brooklyn, and the whole world seems to scream at me saying her home doesn’t exist. This takes more faith, hope, trust, perseverance than I feel like I have most days.

I have to be brave today. I don’t mean that in a pep-talk sort of way, I mean that in a literal sort of way. I have to go be with my family, without Brooklyn. I have to be with the new first great grandchild. And as much as I love them all and want to be looking forward to this first meeting of the newest member of the family, it is clouded with fear and sadness. I have to force my eyes up, looking for His comfort, seeking His reality. I have to step into the place where my mourning and others’ joy collide. Somewhere only We know.

-Brooklyn’s Mommy

For Dan

A good friend of Adam and I’s in college was killed in a car accident in 2007. His mother has been an amazing source of encouragement for both Adam and me as we are just starting our journey as grieving parents. I thought I would share her most recent request with all of you, my response and ask you to respond as well. Even if you never knew Dan but have known the pain of losing someone you love, your time and effort would be cherished.

From Susan:

For anyone interested in writing the parole board to oppose early release for the street racer that killed my son the information follows. One of the offenders has served 3 years of the five year sentence agreed to via plea bargain, if the case had gone to trial he may have received a longer sentence as he was picked up on a DUI while awaiting trial for my son’s death, he continuously broke his bond conditions. When he caused the collision that killed Daniel he was on deferred adjudication for drug charges. After pleading guilty and agreeing to the five years his high powered lawyers filed an appeal that lasted almost two years, he was allowed to await the appeals process from the comforts of a luxurious home. I forgive him for causing Daniel’s death, but he should be held fully accountable for his criminal actions.

If you feel compelled to write the parole board include this information: 
Offender: Kfouri, Andrew State ID: 07825294 TDCJ ID: 01663586 
Letters should be mailed to: 
Angela McCown, Director
Victim Services Division
8712 Shoal Creek Blvd, Suite 265
Austin, TX 78752 

A five year sentence is a small price to pay for the incredible and beautiful life he took. I pray that when he is released he comes out a better person who’ll abide by the laws that govern our state. If you need more information or have questions please feel free to contact me. As always, thank you so much for your love, support and prayers.

In loving honor and memory of Daniel Jason Reiter, February 27, 1985 to June 18, 2007. I miss him with every heartbeat.

I remember the first time I had seen Susan post a similar request on Facebook. I felt like I wanted to write a letter, but then pushed away the idea because I didn’t know what to say and I didn’t want to take the time to figure that out. I am ashamed to say that, but it’s true. My pain has changed my heart. Brooklyn certainly changed the shape of it, but my pain in losing her has made me much more sensitive to others’ pain.

Just one of my “Brooklyn gifts”.

My letter:

Offender:  Kfouri, Andrew

State ID: 07825294

TDCJ ID: 01663586

To Whom It May Concern:

I am writing this letter to implore that Andrew Kfouri not be released after serving only 3 years of his 5 year sentence.

Daniel Reiter lived a big life; one that every one that knew him was proud to have been a part of.  He was one of the few people who saw the best in everyone, without exception.  I believe this is because He knew love from God, and it impacted him in a way that was impossible for others not to see and experience.  He put others above himself, always, and even when it would have been deemed acceptable to promote himself, he displayed humility.

My request to continue to detain Andrew Kfouri is not only to honor the exceptional life Daniel lived but also to honor those who have known longing and pain because of his absence.

As a mother who has recently lost a child herself, I can attest to the pain that enters one’s heart with not only the loss of your cherished child, but the burden of entering a life where every day is filled with longing. Andrew Kfouri’s reckless and thoughtless actions have left a mother to live the rest of her life always missing her first born and the rest of his family feeling incomplete without their son, brother, uncle, nephew, and grandson.  Could there be a greater crime than this?

Is five years really too much to ask for such damage that has been done? Is five years really too much to pay an ounce of the tribute Daniel’s life deserves? Are five challenging years for Andrew Kfouri really too much to let him feel the weight of his unthinkable actions? Andrew Kfouri has the rest of his life in front of him…The rest of his life to make better choices, the REST of his life to live in a comfortable home and enjoy his family and friends at holidays. The REST of his LIFE to pursue his desires in freedom.  So, I ask again, is requiring of him to complete his original sentence really too much to ask?

Considering the life-ending impact of his choices on Daniel and the life altering impact on Daniel’s family and friends, I think asking the courts to honor their original decision for Andrew Kfouri to complete a 5 year sentence is a justified request.

Thank you for your consideration.

Corrie Hull – Daniel Reiter’s friend from college

Austin, TX


If the voice in your head says, “I could never write anything like that.”

You can

If the voice in your head says, “I don’t have the time.”
Find it. AND, it does not have to resemble mine or be as long.
If the voice in your head says, “Corrie, stop reading my mind.”
I’m done. 🙂
I don’t know what Heaven is like, but I hope you’ve gotten to read my Brooklyn Bear a good story a time or two, and play a few games of peek-a-boo or hide and seek. I couldn’t think of anyone better for her to have an adventure with than you! Miss your big, big heart.