I’ll never forget the very first time I saw Brooke. It was Thanksgiving Day, 2004.
In early October Tom and I made the painful 750 mile drive to Loa, Utah where we left our daughter at Aspen Ranch to get the rehabilitation and counseling she so desperately needed. Six weeks later Tom and I, along with our son Drew, went to Loa to see Giana and celebrate Thanksgiving with her. You can bet we had much to be thankful for.
Our daughter was so full of joy that day and it was abundantly clear to all of us that she was on the road to recovery. We sat at large picnic tables in the ranch-style dining hall—a traditional Thanksgiving spread lay before us. Just as we buttered our rolls and took our first bite of turkey and gravy, a young girl was escorted into the large room. She sat down at a table a few feet from us.
Brooke was 15 or 16, thin and slight, and had reddish hair that was cut short in the back and long in the front. She had big beautiful eyes. Brooke’s parents made the tough decision to leave her at this place in order to save her life. There were a hundred or so other young people whose parents had made the same agonizing choice.
Six weeks earlier we were those parents and that frightened young girl was our child. I caught Brooke’s eye from across the dining hall and smiled at her.
Every time we visited Giana over the next many months, we got to watch not only her progress, but also the growth of the other girls in her group. We got to know the other families and we grew to love them. We needed one another’s support and encouragement and having those strong moms and dads in our life made the journey so much easier.
Brooke’s parents were amazingly strong, supportive, and loving.
After Gia left the ranch she kept in touch with a few of the kids she met there. She has stayed particularly close to Brooke and her boyfriend Ryan. Gia well remembers the moment Broke and Ryan first saw one another at rehab. It was—Gia says—love at first sight.
It’s been 5 ½ years since that Thanksgiving Day at The Aspen Ranch in Loa, Utah. This past weekend Gia and I flew to Boise, Idaho where we had the profound joy of watching Brooke and Ryan get married.
The wedding guests gathered at a beautiful Episcopal Cathedral in downtown Boise where Ryan’s grandfather officiated the traditional ceremony. He shared Brooke and Ryan’s story with the guests. He extolled the amazing love of two sets of parents who sacrificed so much to save the lives of their lost kids.
He praised Brooke and Ryan for their strength and faithfulness to each other and to their recovery.
I cried tears of joy through the whole ceremony.
After the wedding we gathered at a nearby hotel for the reception. There I greeted Brooke’s parents. The moment we embraced we shared a thousand unspoken words, and precious memories.
“Thank you so much for sharing this day with us!”
“We wouldn’t have missed it for the world!”
Another day…another miracle.
I am so honored to have had a front row seat to so many miraculous moments. I get to see my own kids every day and I never take their lives for granted. I will never forget where we’ve come from and I am so grateful for where we are. I have hope for more miracles, greater joys, challenging periods of new growth, and exciting surprises.
Thank You God, for the incredible gift of watching my kids, and so many others just like them, grow and love.