Memorial website in the memory of your loved one
My Sister Turned 26 Today. Dear Bridgett- On what would have been your 26th birthday today - I can't help but wonder if. Would you be finishing medical school? Married to Dan? Ready to start a family? Would you be traveling? Giving? Taking care of orphans in some 3rd world country? Would you still be messy? Would your car still hold all the things you never needed but couldn't get rid of? Those softball cleats? That beach chair? Would your car still smell like lavender? Would we still share clothes? Trade recipes? Would you know how to cook? Would you cook better than me? Would you still come home just to help Mom decorate the Christmas tree? Would you still sleep in your all purple room? Would you still climb into bed with me in the morning? And sing some ridiculous happy, chipper, annoying song to wake me up? Would you still be in charge of Christmas gifts? Would you still know the perfect gift to buy everyone? Would you still wrap my presents? Would you still tease me about my crappy wrapping ability? Would you be the best Auntie ever? Would you babysit? Would you write me prescriptions to save me a trip to the doctor? Would I call you Dr. Stoll? Maybe Dr. Bridgett? Would I call you in the middle of the night just to listen to Parker's cough? Would Mikayla still be so into medicine if you hadn't died? Would Peaches still be your cat? Would I still cry every time I heard your favorite Christmas carol? A million questions roam & fill my mind as I think of you. As I mourn you. As I mourn what may have been you. You are the best Christmas gift we ever got. And I'm glad we had 19 years to celebrate every single one of your birthdays together. On days like today, it's all I can do to not want to reach for you. To take your hand. To tell you I love you. To hug you. To curl your hair for you. To edit your fashion. To dress up again in one of Mom's crazy matching outfits. To laugh with you. To cry with you. To pray with you. Oh Bridgett- I miss you so much - it hurts. On this, your 26th birthday, I bought you another birthday card you'll never open. Another present you won't unwrap. Another cake you won't eat. Another party hat you won't wear. It's another birthday we'll spend apart. For now. As where you are now, is where my heart forever lives. In a place where death has lost it's sting. A place where there is no hurt or suffering. I'm so glad that you lived your life knowing your Savior. So I never even for a moment had to doubt where you were. Where you are. Where you'll always be. Dear Bridgett - Stay in that place. Wait for me. And know that until that day - we'll still be celebrating you & all that you gave us while you were here. Happy Birthday Bridgett. Happy Birthday sweet little sister. Happy Birthday dear friend. Happy Birthday To You

        ...There are days...when we just miss our Bridgett...Like today.


        

Happy Birthday Bridgie!

The other day I found myself in that in-between place, you know--that place between thoughts and dreams, awake and asleep, between real and surreal…It was the day before what-would-have-been Bridgett’s 24th birthday; and a little bit of a blue day... Those dangerous--but beautiful-- thoughts of what she would of become, where would she be now--and who she would be--were flitting around in my head…I was trying not to dance with them…But yet they kept calling me out; making me feel all gloomy inside—I reckoned I was feeling rather like Eeyore. So in an effort to escape my Eeyore-disposition, and the enveloping sadness I was experiencing, I laid down—after all, there’s nothing better than a warm nap on a cold winter’s day to chase the blues away!
So lying down, I pulled out the good book and started reading some Psalms (my favorite book in the good book). I’ve found along the way that there’s nothing more comforting than being in the Psalms. But after reading only a couple of chapters, my eyelids were heavy, so setting aside the good book I curled up…and that’s when I found myself in that place…that very special place, that in-between place. And that’s where I saw her.
Bridgett. She was there. I could see her…Clearly…And she was just beautiful. She was laughing and laughing. And dancing. And she was so happy…Clearly happy. And all around her was this deep, beautiful golden light, and she just radiated in it…glowing, her face all alight. She looked a little older, perhaps what she might have looked like at 24?…But more than anything, I noticed how happy she was. She was laughing…though I couldn’t hear her. And she was talking…though not to me. There was a crowd of other people around her, but I didn’t really focus on them--I know I could see Dan and my mom off in the distance…But my eyes stayed on her--and with her--as she moved all around…Oh how I was enjoying seeing her!…My Bridgett! And seeing how beautiful she was…But more than anything…how happy she was…how truly, truly happy she was!
And then…I stirred. Though my eyes were still closed, everything inside them was alight with an intense golden, warm light. And I remember silently asking myself--am I awake or asleep?…And as I opened my eyes and attempted to reconcile what I had just seen…or experienced…I found deep within my heart a growing—even burning---sense of peace. A peace that surpasses all understanding. A peace not explainable by words…It was just a deep…warm…comforting peace…that still remains today--on her birthday. A peace that comes from knowing—truly knowing--that Bridgett is so goodso aliveand so happy!!
And in that peace also came the profound knowledge that she’s far happier where she’s presently at, than she could have ever been here. And an acknowledgement that love—true love—doesn’t wish her back here to toil and tribulation…but true love rejoices with her in the true happiness she now has. But…
In that abiding peace was also the recognition of true sadness…Of a sorrow that co-exists with the reality of missing her. And missing the chance to celebrate her birthday--and everyday--with her. And missing hearing her tell you “I love you” at the end of every phone conversation…or feeling her crawling into bed with you to tell her all about her day, her dreams, or her desires to change the world and its injustices…You know…the sorrow of a reality of life without her…
And yes--most of the time--now days, our lives roll along without the ghost of overwhelming grief overshadowing us. And--most of the time--we can laugh, and talk, and remember our Bridgie without tears of sadness and hearts of heaviness. But…at this moment, amidst this peace, I felt the poignancy of missing her all over again. But…it was okay--it was even a good thing…Because in the middle of such sadness was a deep joy. A joy that reminded me that real love is knowing how happy she is…and rejoicing with her in that. And understanding--really understanding--that even though we are separated for now…someday we’ll be reunited. And maybe—just maybe--we’ll celebrate all those birthdays we spent apart, together on that day! Woo hoo—some party that’s gonna be!!
In the meantime…I found myself literally jumping out of bed—for I had things to do! I had a cake to make...Guess I’m feeling rather like celebrating today after all…and some chocolate cake and ice cream sounds just perfect.
                         Happy Birthday Bridgett! And tho' we know you'll once again e
njoy celebrating your birthday and Christmas in heaven....we still miss you!





 Bridgett's Legacy...
The Bridging Project

 


Thank you for your support for the 'Above & Beyond 5K' event.With the help of over a 125 runners and an additional 50 volunteers, we made over $6,000 to help fund the work of The Bridging Project...Thank you to everybody who helped and participated.

What has come out of losing Bridgett-The Bridging Project- (the story of how it all began is below) has been truly beautiful...Does it make up for her loss?...Nope, can't say that...but does it encourage us? Definitely!

To see thousands--literally thousands--of local students connected to service--to old people, and to hurting and broken people all around Sherburne and Wright Counties has been a blessing--to everyone.

Those of us connected to The Bridging Project have been so blessed in seeing so many kids work hard while learning compassion, pitching in to do whatever it takes, helping out, and just wanting to make a difference. It has blessed not only my heart, but more importantly, theirs--as well as the hearts of those they helped. You might be wondering how The BP connects youth to service, some local examples are--if you live in Becker and you have siblings or neighbors who participated in 'RUAH' (the Becker Youth Service Activity Night held in May the last 2 years)--that was coordinated in conjunction with The Bridging Project. Or if you or your family might have helped, or been helped by Rake the Town...again, coordinated by The Bridging Project.

But the most special thing I have seen come out of The BP is the Adopt-a-Grandparent Program. Its where small groups of youth, young families,  service learning students and even baseball teams 'adopt' a grandparent and build an ongoing relationship with them. They get together 2-4 times a month, listening and sharing stories, making cookies, laughing, watching games, and learning about themselves-and life-through time spent with an older person.

The follow-up surveys we conduct, coming from the students who have adopted a grandparent, are absolutely heartwarming...High schoolers who say 'I am changed as a result of my time with my new grandparent'...'I am no longer afraid of old people'...'I decided I'm now going to major in social work as a result of the time I spent with my grandparent'...'I have decided to go into nursing after I graduate because I have learned I love spending time with the elderly, and I want to continue caring for people--it makes me feel good'...and one of my favorites:  'I didn't know this before, but OLD PEOPLE ROCK!'                       To hear the stories from not only the youth--but from all the Grandma's and Grandpa's as well...and from all the other people and individuals who have been helped through The Bridging Project are just amazing. Our local youth have touched the hearts of military families, of young families who have children with autism or special needs, of people living with disabilities or struggling with mental illness, of family caregivers stressed out from caring for their sick spouse or an aging parent, and on...and on...and on...There literally are thousands of stories, each one touching, meaningful...beautiful.

If you didn't make it to the "Above & Beyond" 5k...but believe in the work that is being done all over our area---please consider donating instead. You can send your donation to:

The Bridging Project

c/o Faith in Action, 13074 Edgewood, Becker, MN 55308

I know I don't have to tell you times are tough, but any contribution--no matter how big or small--will go a long way in helping The Bridging Project continue to connect local youth to people in need, or to those who might have otherwise been left to feel forgotten by their community.

Bridgett once said this in regards to her desire to develop a 'adopt a grandparent' program..."No old person should ever feel lonely...As youth we can and should make a difference."
Whether you loved Bridgett, or barely knew her, you gotta believe God is truly using the legacy of her compassionate heart to make that difference...and to change a community...inspire a generation...and 'bridge' people together.




THE STORY OF THE BRIDGING PROJECT

A couple months after Bridgett died I received a phone call from one of the foundations who gives funding to Faith in Action. He had attended Bridgett’s funeral and was sharing about the impact it had on him. “Clearly,” he said, “her life was about service and helping others; reaching out to those in need of a friend. We believe that her message and the way she lived her life are worth sharing.” And with that doors swung wide open---a grant was received, someone was hired to work to help develop the initiative and the project to honor Bridgett’s legacy of service while glorifying her God---“The Bridging Project”---was born... “Bridging today’s youth with tomorrow’s leadership through people and their stories of yesterday.”
An intergenerational effort, The Bridging Project encourages area youth to connect with their older neighbors through short term service projects as well as establish long term intergenerational relationships. The youth lend a hand to their aging friends by assisting with yard work, painting their homes or even helping to build a wheelchair ramp.
The program is rooted in the foundation of servant leadership found in the life and ministry of Jesus Christ, and Bridgett, who was a follower of Jesus, lived that out while volunteering for Faith in Action frequently. Bridgett, a leader and active in many service projects for the organization, was always mobilizing a group of friends to help out. She had a great love for the elderly and was studying to become a doctor. One of her life goals was to start an adopt-a-grandparent program in her community.
The Bridging Project connects youth groups, families and community organizations to well structured, local missions opportunities, where they work as a team in an affirming environment. The initiative also equips youth with relational and enhanced communication skills which will be not only be helpful to them as they interact with the seniors during the service acts, but throughout their life as well. In the three years since it began more than 3,000 youth have participated in the legacy program, helping over 800 people while giving almost 25,000 hours in service. The newest part of the program rolled out in the fall of 2008 and connected even more youth to those who are struggling with loneliness in the Adopt-a-Grandparent initiative.

The Bridging Project is coordinated by Lane Marana. If you would like to participate, Rake the Town is coming up on Nov 7th. Call her--she would love to meet you and connect you to an opportunity to serve others.
Lane is also actively recruiting Grandparents for the 'Adopt-a-Grandparent' program, ---we have a waiting list of over 100 students wanting to participate in it. Talk to your Grandparent--encourage them to be 'adopted'--they too can partipate and can help by being a bridge to a better tomorrow...and to a better community.

 

 


The Magic of the Purple Slippers

 

  
As the second anniversary of the loss of Bridgett and her boyfriend Dan neared, I went away to the North Shore for a time of much needed respite and renewal. Truth be told, I went in order to run away… from life and the loss of Bridgett. But as much as I went away to run away, I also went so as to run straight into it, to sit and ponder it for awhile…alone. And so I went to the place where my heart longs to stay. And there, along the shores where the sea and sky meld together in unending hues of blue, I sat in silence, contemplating life, loss of life and lessons learned in the aftermath. And in the silence, where the waves still roll and the seas still roar, I thought about Bridgett and her life; about how she lived and how she died.
Amid my daily walks and holy time alone with God, I also found the unholy need for adventure. So I mischievously scaled tall rocks along the shore, ventured down steep cliffs and back up them again, and travelled the back roads as I took in the glorious sights of God’s autumnal handiwork --as well as a few unsightly pot holes. Eventually I found myself at a couple of those cute little shops that dot the North Shore that have nothing to do with adventure…Except the one that had a ridiculously purple pair of slippers in it. Any place emboldened enough to sell slippers like that must have been owned by fellow risk takers! At first sight, the purple slippers immediately reminded me of Bridgett. They were silly enough and had she owned them, she would have worn them proudly. They were warm and wooly, all fuzzy and furry…and they made you want to touch them and laugh, even spend time with them. Just like Bridgett…maybe that’s why I wanted to buy them.
But I didn’t. They were as ridiculously expensive as they were purple. So I walked away, headed back to my cottage and made my way to the shore again, where I thought more about Bridgett, those purple slippers and all the other deep stuff of life. Sometime later it occurred to me that I simply had to have those purple slippers…not so much as to make a fashion statement…or to connect with my inner child….but to wear during those acute moments of missing Bridgett.
So early the next morning, I ventured back to that cute little shop along the big bay and facetiously purchased them, indeed becoming the proud owner of the ridiculously purple, expensive slippers. A couple of hours later and many dollars shorter, I ceremoniously brought them back to my little cottage in the woods and put them in a place of honor. Their warmth and lilac color represented to me a tangible link to another time and place. A time when life was not jaded by the loss of innocence (you parents who have lost a child know exactly what that means) and a place where laughter ruled the day instead of tears.
Eventually I left the slippers there and retreated to the shore where the waves were calling my name once more. While taking a long walk along that stony beach I pondered what life had become without Bridgett’s presence…and the present of Bridgett (please don’t miss the profound meaning in those words). The rocky path on which I walked was strikingly symbolic of the rocky road that life had become without her. Yearning for a simpler path akin to days long since gone, I found my way back to the cottage and the resplendent purple slippers. Sitting down, I removed the worn brown loafers from my aching feet and in their place put on the comfortable, albeit loud purple slippers.
And in a way not understood, time transcended itself and memories filled that little cottage…Memories of Bridgett in grade school, faithfully doing her homework, practicing her AWANA verses, laughing with friends and playing with her kitties. More memories, now of her in high school, where she displayed increasing strength with each passing year; where her passion for righteousness spilled into defending the underdog, standing up to the ‘Tyler-Farts’ of egotism and befriending the forgotten and misplaced. Recollections of her playing the piano and of her helping me stencil my life verse, Ecclesiastes 3:1, around the same walls of her ‘piano room’. Snapshots of holidays past came next, ones of her on Halloween dressing up as Gretta and the Christmas when she willingly gave up her presents so her friend could have some instead. Of all the times we spent at church together decorating, her talking a mile a minute while we worked, of the Saturday morning ‘donut runs’ on the way there. Memories of her with her friends, going shopping with Ventia, visiting with Angie; Bridgett-the-ring-leader, always the event planner, trying to make sure everyone was included, happy…safe. And then, memories of her with Dan…good times…I never saw Bridgett happier than when she was with Dan. She loved him with all her heart.
Lost in time, I stood wearing those purple slippers, tears alternating with laughter, love interfacing with loss…And slowly, as daylight receded into the shadows I became aware of time once more…and as I returned to the present I realized I was dancing…Moving with each new memory, stepping into each one, gliding from one precious memory to the next. Dancing…just like Bridgett said when she wrote:
"I was and still am right here…Lost love is still love. It takes a different form, that’s all…You can’t see my smile, or touch me or move around to dance with me anymore. But when those senses weaken, another heightens. Memory. Memory becomes your partner. You nurture it. You hold it. You dance with it. Life has to end…but love…Love doesn’t.”
And so two years after the accident, as I stood dancing in the middle of the little cottage, I thought about what I had come to do…to get away, to remember, to reconcile, to be restored…to offer praise amidst the storm. Somewhere along the way, the certainty that life does end was softened with the reality that love doesn’t. And so it was that love filled those purple slippers with its magic…and moved my heart to dance once more. For in remembering how fully she lived, how deeply she loved and how truly she believed in her faith, I am prompted to do the same---to not do so, would only serve to diminish her loss.
So I danced in the cottage along the shores of the lake that dances itself. And that day as I danced with my magical purple slippers on, they encouraged me to keep dancing every step of the way...tomorrow maybe I’ll even dance on the shores and along the beach, where life is rocky and the waves roll in. But I know I’ll keep dancing…forever changed, stronger, refined, restored…
As the sun set on the lake, I sat once more to ponder life, and as the stars came out, they drew me closer to the heavens and to Bridgett. And as I sat there with my heart and feet all warm and cozy, not to mention wildly adorned in bright lavender, I fondly recalled my dance earlier in the day and wondered…will others be moved to dance too?
And so I leave you with this…don’t let two years pass by without looking within…Remember how Bridgett lived, and who she was. Then take some time to reflect on who you are today. Are you any different for having known her? Have you changed since you said good bye? How have you responded to the loss of Bridgett and Dan? Have you been refined or declined? For in the end, it matters how we respond to the hard times in life, to our pain, the suffering, our sorrow. When it’s all said and done…Life is about how you live it…don’t miss the significance of the rocks…or the beauty in the dance.
…If you need some help, I know where you can borrow a pair of magical purple slippers to get you started.  


 And Chapter 2

                             The Magic of the Purple Slippers 

Chapter 2 of the story began when I packed my purple slippers and headed back to the North Shore…where the sea meets the sky and the landscape shouts majesty…Where my heart feels whole and my feet feel like dancing…So in desperate need of time off and time away, I went away once more…bags—and baggage—packed.
I spent my first night at the crest of a waterfall—literally—staying at a cabin perched no more than 50 feet from the roar of the Illgen Falls. The sheer power of the falls contrasted to the gentle waters upstream caused me to reflect on the polarities of life. As I crawled into bed that night, with the thundering rumble coming thru my open window, I found comfort in the splendor of its unending sound. I remember a profound thought crossing my mind as I turned off the light…“Where does all that water come from?!” (Made me briefly wish I had paid more attention to my ecology professors!) And early that morning, I found myself still very much perplexed how that much water could roll over those falls and never run out—all the while keeping me awake! About that time, which, by then, was 4AM, I finally crawled out of bed and slammed the window shut—much more annoyed than amazed at the sound of the water falling below! But with the sunrise my attitude realigned with the wonder of nature once more and despite my lack of sleep I again found myself in awe of the beauty of the morning; my senses on overload as I took in the sight of the fall season and the sound of the falls.
After packing my bags—and baggage—once more, I headed further up that magnificent shore to the place I’ve come to call “Almost There”. It is thee place in this world where my heart longs to stay and my spirit feels inexplicably whole…The place where we released Dan and Bridgett’s ashes, where their remains remain forever free and flowing. And immediately upon arriving, I was drawn down unto the rocks, and standing there I could almost hear the bagpipes playing once more, those soulful strains of Amazing Grace as we spread their ashes into the wind. And there I felt connected, consoled and comforted…and thought…yes…I truly am “Almost There”…But not wanting to yet become immersed in the melodrama of unpacking my grief, I turned to go, choosing to unpack my car instead.
And there I stayed for 3 wonderful nights and days, on the shores of Lake Superior with blue skies overhead, and orange-red trees all around. The first day there I read and walked and thought. And in between, my more adventuresome self emerged, calling me to explore the hills and byways, and the peaks and summits in the area. So I did...I scaled high cliffs (ok, not too high), navigated dried creek beds, rambled among peaceful meadows and hiked numerous rocky paths…However, after awhile, my muscles told me what they thought of my newfound adventuresome spirit and declared I was either too old or too overweight for such adventure…And so my former, more subdued nature prompted me to get back in my car and journey back up the shore, where the grand bay shimmers in the shadows of the great hill--and those little shops call my name. So obligingly, I ventured into them, one by one…seeking something…finding nothing…No more magical purple slippers adorned the shelves of that favorite shop…proving truly how magical they were…Until alas, back in the far corner of an old time trading post---there it was…something magical! This time in the form of a children’s book…complete with beautiful pictures and words that nourished my soul. I quickly figured that reading this book just one time wasn’t going to do---and remembering my lesson from the year before---and not wanting to make the return visit the next day with gas prices the way they are---I hurriedly purchased this magical book...(it was a paltry $19.97, a mere pittance compared to those purple slippers!) …After visiting a few more stores, a restaurant, the library (for the internet—duh) and the gas station, I gladly returned to the place I call “Almost There” and settled in. Ready to unpack…both my bags…and my baggage…
And so it was, the coming days brought the water to look like glass and the sun to shine like June…And there I rested and read…and reconnected and remembered. And as I got deeper into my thinking and unpacking, I speculated I was more closer to “Almost There” than previously thought.
Upon waking early the last day, I ventured out onto the rocks at sunrise…determined to greet the day with a heart full of praise…and wearing my purple slippers I thanked the Lord who gave me my Bridgett, as the sun rose in beautiful and magical hues of lavender and lilac and gold (her favorite colors)…And then I worshiped the same Lord who took her away…right where we had once stood with her one last time…and I started singing the song, “Blessed Be the Name of the Lord”…the same one we sang at her funeral…And in my slippers, on those rocks where we released her…I thought about how letting go of Bridgett was not quite like letting go of our daughter Meggan…in a wedding in a church...rather, how releasing Bridgett was coming to understand her wedding was in eternity, and in a far greater way than ever imaginable…and learning to be okay with that wedding—though much different than the one I had always dreamed of…As I stood there on the rocks--in my resplendent purple slippers--I started to dance once more as the sunrise chased away the shadows and night turned to day. I sang and danced and remembered. And oh how I laughed as I thought about so many memories when the kids were little and growing up…

Like all the times she decorated  for Kayla's birthday  parties...And how Bridgett threw up every time she went to spend the weekend at her dad’s in Fargo…until we realized it was the food she ate at the same restaurant we would always meet at in Alex…And that Christmas past when we got her an electric piano keyboard, but we gave it to her at the end of the gift opening because it was too big to wrap and put under the tree…only by that time she was totally pouting and feeling very badly about not getting very many presents!—and how she squealed with delight at being able to learn how to play the piano. And I mused as I remembered how fun it was to be around her and how hard she worked to make us all laugh…and then I thought of her compassionate nature…her kind-hearted, long-suffering, gentle ways…especially with those who were hurting or those who the world seemed to have forgotten…Then, I recalled her poignant journal entries…where she wrote of soon being in heaven and walking streets of gold…and all her compelling essays that seemed to speak of an understanding she had that her life here was not to be long--and her subsequent actions…Where she lived that understanding out, day after day, in living her life everyday in vibrant pursuit of living it to the fullest….with determination, passion…and compassion.
As I turned to go, I walked from the rock where we stood that day as a family to say goodbye to her, to the one further up the ledge, where we sat together to have our picture taken…And as I stood there remembering that day and the picture—the one where my son--now at war in Afghanistan--looked so handsome and so at peace…...and suddenly I thought how hard…how very, very hard it would be to go “back there”…to that painful, forsaken place of losing a child…another child…And I cried out to the Lord to please bring this baby back home…I reasoned He could have my Joshua, just not take him…not yet…And as I stood on that rock where I had sat with the kids and Dennis nearly three years ago, something caught the corner of my eye. And from the right came a line of 4 ducks, flying low, right at eye level, single file…quietly, regally…As the ducks came directly in front of me, the third duck…not the first, nor the second, but the third, seemed to struggle, flapping her wings with great, great effort…it looked as if she was maybe going to take over the lead, breaking wind for the other ducks…But in an instant the duck broke off, heading off into the sunrise, by herself, soaring upward and onward…The other three remained together, flying low, single file, down the coast…and that old hymm “I’ll Fly Away” came to mind as I found myself in the middle of a holy, profound moment…where I knew that I knew that I knew, that my God had reached down from heaven to reassure me in a way He knew I would understand….(in my own love language of nature) that my three kids would be ok…and more so, that my son would be ok…Looking further down the cove, I saw the three ducks still flying, now almost out of distance, then watched in amazement as the three turned towards the sunrise and flew towards the other one, where they all joined together again and flew away…out of sight…as if to say they will once again all be together…in eternity.
Turning to go, afoote in lavender and adrift in Love, with tears streaming down my face, I thought how blessed I was to be at“Almost There”…and then I recalled the last words found in the book Ezekiel …”The LORD is THERE”…And bathed in the gentle morning sunlight, as I stepped towards the worn path that would eventually lead me back home, I realized…I had finally--after three long years--found that I’d been THERE all along.

A Postlude to “THERE”:
In packing my car for the return trip home I was amazed at how much less time it took…less baggage will do that I guess…While driving home I concluded three years is a long time…but then, in losing a child, it’s a long road back…And from that conclusion came    my hope for all of you who read this…That in losing Bridgett, whether you were family, a friend or only knew her from afar, that after three years you, too, will think of her and smile…and that all your memories will be sweet ones.…And where ever you are…that THERE you will always remember her for         her smile, her love, her faithfulness...and her compassion.

 


 

And Chapter 3                                   

                         DANCING IN THE RAIN

      A Journey towards Healing & Finding Hope There

Come September the change in seasons is marked with cooler weather and shorter days; much like the change that occurs within my heart. It becomes more like embers this time of year; the warmth and the fire within it cool down as well. So despite the beauty of the season, the days of autumn just seem to get lost in my meandering mind…a mind not in tune with today, but more focused on yesterday. When lives were more innocent…laughter rang without effort, and life rolled along with great ease.
In order to overcome this propensity to stay settled in the past, I’ve learned something about myself these last few years…it’s necessary for me to make an annual pilgrimage to a place where wandering minds find peace and broken hearts get put back together again. So when the leaves start to change --and my heart does as well--I know it is time to go away…to pack my bags, go visit my friend in the northland, and do some work.
It was no different this year as fall neared—except, maybe the shades of my heart seemed even darker after losing my mom. (Yes--my mind knows my mom and Bridgie are enjoying being together again, and being in the presence of Holiness! Yet, my heart just misses them…) The fresh heartbreak made this year’s pilgrimage take on even more importance, making my mission even more imperative: find some peace of mind…and a piece of hope. Eventually I prevailed over the distractions of everyday life, got the car packed, and hit the road. Alone. I have also come to learn this work of mine is always done better by myself. This means Dennis stays graciously behind to go to work and take care of the home front, while I venture up to answer the call of the North…Shore.
After a couple hours on the road, that familiar blue color of my old friend slowly came into view and my heart stirred. I finally arrived at my destination--my home-away-from-home this year was a swanky respite (proof positive that God does indeed have a sense of humor--but that’s another story for another day.) And despite its sophistication and luxury, I walked straight through, out the backdoor, and down to the shore, to see my old friend…Lake Superior. I sat for a while at her side. But she was rather quiet at first, and she didn’t seem to talk much that day; her waves were gentle and hushed. Yet in the twinkle of her water and the sparkle of her movement was great wisdom…Quickly lost in thought, I knew it was good to be back together again.
As hours turned into days, and the hectic pace of life began to melt away, I heard in the motion of the waves come a whisper of a message…But the message seemed just too complex to comprehend at the time—and my deep-seeded need for frivolity was comprehended instead! So off I went—away to new adventures of flying gondolas and amazing vistas; for there were pictures to take and treasures to find. And in the middle of the treasure hunt sat my favorite little store, on the edge of the great big bay. Detouring slightly, I paused to make my way into that magnetic store long enough to find it…sitting in aisle 12…the very treasure which I knew would help me complete my mission. Reckless abandon overtook my otherwise focused nature (okay, so maybe it wasn’t so focused on that particular day) and I purchased the purple treasure without hesitation. Upon returning to my home-away-from-home (the ‘Swanky Ranch’ as I fondly referred to it) I unpacked my treasure—a wonderfully wooly, warm, lovely, light lavender…robe…And putting it on, I ventured outside, and found myself sitting again with my friend. Her message seemed to be growing louder. And harder to ignore…
Not quite ready to accept the mission just yet, I headed back inside, where the words written on the walls of the great room greeted me. They said, “Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow is unknown. Delight in the joys of today. Dance in the woods. Howl with the wolves. Dream to the sounds of the sea.” Upon reading them I decided to do just that—and turned into bed, drifting off to the friendly lull outside my window…
As morning broke, I joined my sister and her husband, budding photojournalists, in search of the ‘perfect photo’ to complete the book I am currently working on. We ventured far, traveled down dusty roads and hiked even farther, taking in the quiet sounds of nature while trying to capture the quintessential shot. Far back in the hills, as a golden hue signaled the approaching end of daylight, we heard the howl of wolves coming from across the waters of the small lake where we were shooting. Their eerily close howl reminded me of the words written on the walls back at the Swanky Ranch…But as bravery was not part of my nature that day, I chose to not howl with the wolves--instead I encouraged my companions to join me in quickly hiking back to our car!
Safely back at the ranch and down by the sea, I settled in and finally found myself ready to listen to what the waves were whispering to me…Amazed once more by the indelible detail of our God, I clearly heard the echo of the words from the walls within the house…
Yesterday is gone…it whispered. ‘Yes,’…I pondered...But after all--yesterday was why I was there…
Tomorrow is unknown. Obviously. No pondering was needed over that one.
Delight in the joys of today. Not a challenge when your days are spent appreciating the wonders of creation…especially along the North Shore!
Then came the words: Dance in the woods--and they seemed to stop me. They were so…ambiguous…Even with my magic purple slippers on, dancing just seemed so elusive these past few years…So much so I pondered, that somewhere along the way, I had reached the conclusion that dancing was only meant for little girls. Yes, one day I would dance again--but it would be at the sight of my Savior--definitely not in the middle of the woods! No…dancing wasn’t—and isn’t--for those who mourn, I thought…Rather, it is for those without a care in the world…So I would have to wait to dance, I concluded…until the storms of life had passed…
After wrestling with that phrase for a very long time, I eventually moved on to the next one--but did not have to ponder it for very long. The words, Howl with the wolves-- and my all too close encounter earlier that day--removed any notion of those words wielding some sort of mystical attraction for me.
Finally, yawning, I knew it was once again time to turn in and Dream to the sounds of the sea…

My last morning on the big sea dawned dark and brooding. The gray sky indicated rain, but that was not necessarily a bad thing since we were in need of capturing a storm scene for the book. All wrapped up in my purple treasure, I decided to go for a sunrise stroll out on the rocks. There the heaviness of the air reminded me of the many times I had previously stood on the rocks alongside my friend with a heavy heart. Surprisingly, my mood that morning did not seem to equate with the weather, and as I stood there…all wooly and warm in my lovely lavender robe, and with my feet adorned in a magical—albeit, slightly worn--pair of purple slippers…my heart seemed to feel…as if…it was almost dancing…
Eventually, the clouds drew closer and it began to gently mist…a sure indication of the approaching storm. As the mist gave way, and the rain began to fall, my feet began to move—though not to make my way back up the hill to the cottage--but rather, I was rocking back and forth...and dancing…Quietly I heard my friend whisper-and this time my spirit received it…’Dance’ she said. ‘Dance…not in the woods…But in the rain…’ And suddenly I knew…I wasn’t to wait for the storms of life to pass…I was to Dance in the Rain…
So I did. In an act reminiscent of sacrificial praise, I danced in the rain, on the rock, before the Lord of all creation. In thanksgiving and praise…in spite of the pain…and in spite of the rain, I danced…For all He is…and who He is…I danced.
As the rain continued, I slowly made my way back to the house to pack up and head home. It was then that I realized my work was done…My mission complete:
I had once again found peace…and my heart once again, had hope.

"Blessed be the name of my Lord. He gives and takes away, but blessed be the name of my Lord" The song from Bridgett's funeral, Oct 12, 2005

"Dance then, where ever you may be, I am the Lord of the Dance said He, and I'll lead you all wherever you may be, and I'll lead you all in the Dance, said He." The song from my mom's (Evelyn Dalen) funeral, June 23, 2009.

 


 

A Trip Down Memory Lane...


It was 1996…and we lived on Brenda Blvd...for 3 years by then, in our little blue house. (We loved that house.) It was summertime and Josh was going to be in the 7th grade that fall; Meggan, 6th grade; Bridgett was 10 and going into 4th grade and Kayla, 3rd.
Bridgett was at her dad’s house in Fargo for a week, when her special little friend Sam--her gray kitty--suddenly became sick and died from luekemia. Bridgett, a professed cat-lover at her birth (her first word was meow) did not do well at all with the news and many, many tears were shed in the following days. Upon the advice of Pat Brown--the school’s wonderful social worker and fellow church-goer--Dennis and I decided it would be a good idea to find Bridgett another cat—ASAP!
As fate would have it, we took a trip out to North Dakota right after that to visit Dennis’ family. While there we went to see his best friend Greg who lived on a ranch. Greg’s wife, Heidi, was an avid cat-lover as well, and there were kitties everywhere…including a litter of cute adorable kittens...Thinking about the void in Bridgett’s heart as we (I) sat and played with them (Dennis was never a sit-and-play-with-the-kittens-kind-of-guy) we both knew immediately when we spotted an orange and white one with a little smudge on its nose, that this one was sure to fill that void in a heartbeat. Aware of the value of pet therapy we agreed we wanted to take this little furry package home for Bridgett… so being brave (or dumb) we set out cross country, an (interesting) 9 hour trip back home, with the newest little family pet (who learned to like ice cream--Dairy Queen, of course--along the way).
It was instant bonding. Bridgett loved the kitty and the kitty loved Bridgett! Upon trying to decide what to call the kitty we agreed we liked the name Peaches because of its orange and white coloring (and because at this point, we were pretty certain Peaches was a girl). Now for those of you who have never heard the story I offer it here--only because Bridgett isn’t around to be embarrassed by it anymore---Peaches was a “late bloomer”…In checking out his back end at the ranch before bringing him home, we did not see any of the tale-tell signs that indicated this was a boy kitty…and Peaches is a perfectly acceptable name for a girl kitty…However, shortly after starting to call Peaches, well, Peaches…Peaches grew lumps…So sitting down with Bridgett, we had a serious conversation about whether we should keep Peaches named Peaches…eventually we decided we would since he already seem to know that his name was, well, Peaches…so Peaches it remained.
From the beginning there was never a doubt whose kitty Peaches was. He slept with her, ate with her (left over milk from her morning cereal was the tradition) and greeted her at the door everyday when she came home from school. They became fast friends. And despite increasing allergy symptoms when together, Peaches grew to be her best friend (as did Zyrtek, her useful antihistamine).
Though I contended for his affection I mainly was a replacement…I was only good for playtime…particularly one game…whenever I would try to make our bed Peaches would jump up on it, delaying the task at hand. He would play and play, running across the bed, crawling under the blankets, biting you if you tried to take him out from under it…and finally when I would turn around to grab the pillows to add the finishing touches…Peaches would lunge at me from the bed…inevitably biting me---in the butt…Bridgett would always howl hysterically at this point…and in spite of trying many maneuvers to avoid being bitten you-know-where--including covering my fanny with a pillow (sorry to invoke a visual) and not turning away from him so as to offer a moving target. But no matter what I did he would sneak up from behind and get me---every time! And every time it was hysterical---to Bridgett anyways. She would scoop him up into her arms then and waltz with him out to the kitchen to reward his delinquent behavior with a treat. Much to my credit, I eventually did learn a defensive tactic that worked…I quit making my bed. 

  

Peaches and the 'bed game'.
Peaches was definitely Bridgett’s cat. Whenever I would try to pet him or play with him he became annoyed with me and gave me ‘that look’…so she would step in to rescue him by putting her index finger directly in front of his nose. For some reason this sufficiently diffused his annoyance (with me) and he would immediately forget he was angry and start licking her finger. From decorating the Christmas tree with her, to climbing the Christmas tree (without her), he was always a curious kitty…and curiously naughty! With several naughty habits to his credit--and a haughty personality as well--he was not exactly Dennis’ best friend. Because some people were (a little) lacks at discipline, (ok we all were) Dennis became Peaches sole obedience trainer…they eventually developed a mutually agreed upon relationship of avoidance.
And though Peaches wasn’t fond of other dogs or cats, him and Brandy became fast friends, playing together like litter mates. He also buddied up to Josh, Meggan and Kayla with time, though he reserved his fondest affection for Bridgett. Purring whenever she’d pick him up, he would begin to knead his little paws into her and halfway closing his eyes, he looked undoubtably happy whenever she was around.
A few years ago Peaches developed a rather quick (for him) tolerance of Dan, Bridgett’s boyfriend. Yes, Peaches was smart enough to comprehend with all his feline capabilities, that Bridgett liked Dan, so he should too. Therefore he would tolerate him, putting on that cat- mask of I-will-allow-you-to-pet-me-just-to-make-your-day-and-to-keep-MY-Bridgett-happy whenever Dan would around. Eventually Dan and Bridgett found a game they would play together for hours with Peaches. One day she brought home a few of those little one-inch-sized, super bouncy balls. Her and Dan would throw the balls up the stairs, then they would bounce all the way down upon the different steps with Peaches chasing after them…frequently he would capture a ball in his mouth, let Bridgett take it from him, and before they would throw the balls again, he would race back up the steps, give them ‘that look’ that said he was ready, and they’d throw the balls again...over and over again they'd do this…laughing the entire time.
When Bridgett left to go school at SMSU, Peaches started acting depressed. Part of his depression included letting me become Bridgett’s proxy, so he would climb up onto my lap and tolerate me…giving me ‘that look’ while I petted him, only staying for a few minutes, however. And when Bridgett would arrive home for a weekend or come home on break, she would call for Peaches right away, he would quickly come out and greet her with his old, familiar warm “Meow." Then they would “talk and talk" and he would remain "attached to her at the hip" until she left again…
Three years ago when Bridgett died, Peaches took up residence on my lap. For three solid weeks he sat there while I rocked and rocked in my chair. He knew. In his little kitty heart he knew…No one will ever be able to convince me differently…And from that time on, he has sat there…and even though he will always be Bridgett’s kitty, by default he became mine. There was no more waiting for Bridgett at the door, no more ball games on the stairs...he became more reserved, a little quieter. And in the following years whenever I would go upstairs to Bridgett’s room, he would quickly follow me up the steps, and every time he would do the exact same thing…he would climb onto her bed, lay down in the exact same spot, and closing his eyes, he would start to purr and knead his little paws. And he would stay there for a very long time…Clearly he remembered her.
Yes, Peaches always was Bridgett's kitty. And that is why saying good bye to him is especially poignant. It is losing a little bit more of that connection to her…I know, I know---I’m just a sap…but that is why I write this story… it is pet therapy…only this time it is for my soul…Goodbye Peaches…        I will miss you.

 


 


"Who I'd Be Tomorrow"

                            Who would I be tomorrow?….Hmmm, sounds like a question in some crazy, mixed-up song or even a rhetorical question meant to motivate the masses. But it’s not…it’s just a question I find myself asking a lot lately...
Who would Bridgett be tomorrow?...
As SMSU’s graduation neared, I found myself thinking a lot about Bridgett. She would have graduated May 10th (today)...no doubt with all the pomp and circumstance of a college graduate ready to take on the world! Tassels blowing, cap flying, diploma in hand…accepted at med school, a ring on her finger and a wedding in the works.
Not only would she be ready to take on the world,
she would have most likely tried to conquer it!
However, since there is no graduation to celebrate,
instead I find myself left to wonder...
Who would Bridgett be tomorrow? Maybe the best way to answer that is to look at what her answer may have been. And perhaps that answer was best given at her high school graduation...Copied below is the speech she gave at her baccalaureate.
It clearly explains her own desire to live in Victory
while encouraging those she cared about to do the same...It maybe even answers---in part—
Who she would have been...tomorrow.
In her own words: 
                                             

Fellow Graduates:
As you can see, I’m packed and ready to go. This year is quickly coming to a close. As this chapter ends in our life we’ve been given the opportunity to begin a new one. For many of us the new chapter will begin when we leave for college this fall. For others it begins with basic training and still others have different plans in mind to start their new chapter. But wherever you go or what you’re going to be doing I suggest you bring a few items with you.
First one of the most important items to bring. A laundry basket. Remember to cram as many dirty articles of clothing in it as possible so Mom can “help” you with your laundry. Second, a cell phone. The mobile device makes it easy for you to stay in touch with loved ones and keep up with all your friends’ accomplishments. And finally I suggest bringing a backpack to carry all the essential items to become a successful…. “Oh geez…why is this thing so heavy? I don’t remember pens and notebooks ever weighing this much. What? Why would I bring bitterness with me? When did I pack along envy and anger? How will worry or guilt help me? And who put fear and pride in here? It couldn’t have been me.” Why would I bring these along?
(Pause)
These burdens here load a person down. They consume your every thought, desire, and action. As you become wrapped up with these desires a separation between you and God begins. And it’s during this separation where feelings of despair, sorrow, loneliness, hopelessness, and fear develop. I myself have been weighed down by these too many times before.
But because of God’s great love for you and me, he gives us the choice to give these burdens to him. In fact he challenges us to lay them at his feet. In Matt. 11:28-30 Jesus says, “Come to me, all you who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Here he has given us the option to lay these burdens at the foot of the cross, to pass on those troubles preventing us from truly experiencing who he is. When we come before him with a broken and humble spirit, he transforms who we are and gives us a new heart.
God has given us the chance to step out into this world. To go into the darkest corners of the earth so we can bring hope, love, and light there. And it is awfully hard to go anywhere with a backpack full of this, weighing you down. When you lay down these burdens and truly let them go God will be able to use you to bring glory to his name. No one promised that following God was going to be an easy task. He calls us to give up our own selfish ambitions so that he can direct our paths and guide our lives. When we relinquish control we are able to put joy integrity, respect, purity, and patience into the bag. They are available to us if we choose to pack them, but none of these work very well without the instruction manual [the Bible].
As I said before this chapter in our lives is ending, don’t let these burdens have a part in the next chapter. Let’s stop letting these troubles rule our lives, God is here and he is real. He wants nothing more than to take all these troubles away from us. I challenge you today to leave whatever burdens we face at the foot of his cross. Let’s go before him weak and broken and let him restore us. So that our new chapter can be even better than the last. Isaiah 26:4 says ‘Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord is the Rock Eternal’.

Thanks for the memories Bridge…I miss you...and all that might have been...



Bridgett...
A Tribute To Her Life...
A Celebration of Her Legacy...

This memorial website was created in memory of Bridgett. She was our daughter, our sister, a leader and friend. She was born on December 20, 1985 and would have celebrated her golden birthday that year. Bridgett was known for her joyful spirit, compassion for others, commitment to family, love for learning, and as a friend to many. She loved life and lived it to the fullest for her Lord and her friend, Jesus Christ. She was passionate about many things in life. Among them, leading by example, YFC, playing softball, being in the marching band, advocating for others and being purposeful in her lifelong goal of becoming a doctor. "Bridge" is remembered for her servanthood, laughter, integrity, faithfulness and her love for life. She is missed dearly by all of us...her friends,
her cat Peaches and most of all…by  
her family.
Her “Going Home” party was held on October 9, 2005; after that she gave of herself one last time by donating her organs to those in need. She was then reunited with Dan, where we know they are together and rejoicing in the presence of their Lord and Savior for all eternity.

________________________________________



Bridgett's Story
Bridgett was on her way home from college for the weekend with Dan Battis, her soulmate and boyfriend. They were both students at SMSU, in Marshall and were coming back for homecoming, to see old friends and visit with family. But on the way they were involved in an accident. Though they never made it back home to Becker that night for homecoming, we know they did make it to a far greater Homecoming...in heaven...We trust and know that it was beautiful...                                                                                                        
Dan and Bridgett had dated for two years and even talked of marriage someday. They truly had a sweet relationship and each one cherished the other deeply. This website unfolds Bridgett's life story and includes pictures of her with her family and friends, and of her and Dan. It also contains compelling writings from her journals and school work; all which offer insight into her life and what mattered most to her. It gives us an inside glimpse of a life lived with purpose…to bring glory to her God...
As we move forward through time without Bridgett and Dan, we understand that though they never married while on earth, we have no doubt that they are enjoying being together for all eternity, worshipping their King.
We hope you are blessed by her story.
  


 

     I Wonder If There’s Softball Fields in Heaven...
Wandered over to the ball fields recently…Needed to take a walk and do some thinking. It’s been awhile now since the accident happened. It was a beautiful Friday afternoon when Bridgett and Dan left school that day to come home…but they ended up going Home instead. Really Home...Thought a lot about that as I walked around the ball fields…seems like forever ago...yet it seems like only yesterday.
Just yesterday Bridgett was out on the field throwing the ball around. Hitting, catching, strategy…she loved the game…She developed her love for the game young when she and her siblings would go out to the ball fields and imagine they were playing in a real game. Bridge was really the only one who could keep up with her older brother Josh. She loved it when she got him out. (If you asked him about it though, he’d tell you she never did!) She also loved playing with her sister Kayla. Thru the years, Kay and her played softball for Becker. The Blast, the Bulldogs, all of it. Bridge was usually the catcher.                             
In one game when they were about 14 and 15 years old at the time, Kayla was out in left when she fielded the ball way out by the fence and threw it all the way to home, right into Bridgett’s glove! They got the runner out, quite the spectacular play for their age!…Only the ump missed the call…he couldn’t quite fathom the left fielder’s ability to get the ball home in time and the catcher being in position to make the tag, so he called the runner safe. Bridgett never forgot who that ump was--she never liked him after that---she called him “Maggot!”
Bridgett’s sense of fairness and justice was just as strong on the field as it was in life. If you were an umpire and didn’t call things fair she had issues with you. One time, she was in about 9th or 10th grade, she was playing ball in Monticello. Her uncle was the ump. She put the ball into play and ran down the first baseline. She was safe by a mile…according to her. But her Uncle Dan called her out.                
She never got over that either. After that, any time Uncle Dan was her ump she had issues with him. And she wasn’t afraid to tell him, “Blue, you missed the call.” The game was suppose to be fair. Just like she wanted life to be. And when it wasn’t she did her best to help…she’d cheer for the underdog, take it easy on the rookie, encourage you if you were in a slump…she was so kind hearted she’d even find a way to be compassionate in a game!
Yes Bridgett loved the game! She was passionate about it, in fact it was hard for her to channel that passion into a game face. Hard to not care when you lost. Hard not to care when the team wasn’t playing good. She loved to catch and she had an arm like a cannon. Whenever she would throw down and get someone out at second, she was in her glory…unless the ump blew that call too! Then she’d kick dirt up on him as she "cleaned" the plate and got "in position" for the next pitch…
And when she was hitting her stride, she could crush the ball. Yes, she could hit! Then one year her coach adjusted her swing in high school and it totally threw her off her game. She was totally deflated. Between a bum arm and a bad case of catcher’s knees she ended up taking the year off. But she never quit loving the game…Or life…
As I wandered around the outfield, I remembered the plays, the games, the fun…The memories made me miss her. As I wandered from third base to home, I looked up into the bright blue sky. And as I stood on home plate at 5:34, at the time of the accident…I thought about her game and her life. I thought about my ‘Marla’ (her teammates used to call her that after the movie “A League of Their Own”) and the fact that there are no more injustices she has to put up with now…on the ball field or in life. No more lousy umps to contend with (sorry Uncle Dan). And as I looked up into the heavens I could almost see her there playing catch with the best of them…maybe Kirby, or one of the old timers…Throwing down, laughing, enjoying herself…And as I thought about all that scripture has to say about heaven…about the wonderful place it is, I knew that whatever she’s doing up there, it’s great. She’s having the time of her life! Maybe her and Jesus are playing catch right now…probably isn't the most sound theology, but the thought made me smile. Winter has finally gone now and spring’s almost here…and somewhere I can here someone yelling “Play Ball!”…As I gazed up into the heavens I knew, “Bridgett’s...Safe at Home...”                                



And some thoughts from "big sis"....                                                  


Have We Forgotten?
Written By, Meggan – Bridgett’s Sister
As the leaves begin to fade and fall away from their trees, as the cool winds begin to blow, as the neighbors begin carving and setting out their warm, orange jack-o-lanterns, one can’t help but think of the life changing events that occurred this season, just two years ago.
Going back to 2005, I was newly engaged and just beginning my junior year of college. The future was promising and I looked forward to it with great hope and anticipation. I couldn’t wait to be married with my closest family and friends standing beside me.
Getting the call that Friday night of October 7th changed many things for me.
I promised Bridgett that Friday night, seeing her cry in her hospital bed as she was trying to tell me goodbye, that I would never forget.
It’s not just about remembering who Bridgett was, although her amazing smile, humor, and love are hard things to just simply forget.
It’s about remembering who Bridgett stood for, lived for, and loved.
Bridgett stood for a compassionate Jesus, accepting of those who the world turned away. Bridgett lived for eternity, knowing that that was her purpose, focusing on bringing others to know her Lord and Savior, and not worrying about what the world told her was important.
Bridgett’s love for God and others was unending, passionate, and genuine. Bridgett was the one who was always there, the one you knew you could count on in good times or in bad. She had wisdom and strength beyond her years. If you were one of the fortunate who really knew Bridgett , you would know then that she relied and depended on God for that love, strength, compassion, kindness, and gentleness that captured us all.
As the ‘anniversary’ of Dan and Bridgett’s death comes and goes, my challenge to you would be to remember.
Remember Bridgett. Remember what she stood for, lived for, and loved. Remember the promises you made to her, to yourself, and to God when she died. Remember the good times that you shared with her. Remember that you too can see her again someday if you choose to love, accept and live for the Savior she wanted everyone to know.
I’ll be remembering my Bridgie this October, like I do everyday of every year that she isn’t here with me. I’ll be remembering each of you who she loved and cared for so much. I’ll remember to pray that through these trials and suffering, we will all find His love and His peace.




   A Beating Heart, A Breath of Life, A Blessed Day
Heaven smiled the other day…I’m quite sure of it. Scripture tells us in the thirteenth chapter of Hebrews to “not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.” Sharing with others, doing good...that was how Bridgett lived…and died… 
I remember the day Bridgett brought home the form to be an organ donor. She was 16 and was taking her test for her driver’s license later that week. In typical Bridgett style she wanted to be prepared---if she passed the test and got her license, she wanted it marked as ‘donor’ ; as a minor she needed parental consent to do that. She handed the form to me and said, “I’m going to be an organ donor, you need to sign this.” Her voice as well as the look in her eyes told me it wasn’t necessary to explain any further…She believed with all that was within her in being an organ donor…I signed the paper.
On another day, a couple years later, the doctor stood beside Bridgett’s bed in the ICU at North Memorial Hospital and told us she would not recover…In the moments that followed, without hesitation, we went forth to honor her request to be an organ donor…to do good and share with others…In doing so, it meant we would need to say good bye to her while she was still living; that we would sacrifice not being with her when she passed from this life to the next…Having been a nurse I knew being with your loved one during their final moments is an intensely intimate time…it is a privilege to escort them to the edge of eternity. And I understood that it would mean we sacrifice not being with her when she passed from this life to the next…But it never crossed our minds to change our minds; giving was who Bridgett was in life…and in death…                                                                        
When her dad and I made one last visit to say goodbye, at that very moment the song Bridgett loved to play on the piano, “Friends are Friends Forever” began playing softly on the radio next to her bed. As we took her beautiful hands with their long, graceful fingers and held them , we told her we loved her and that she could go be with Jesus now. Through heart wrenching tears we said good bye to our daughter one final time as the song quietly and providentially played in the background, "friends are friends forever when the Lord's the Lord of them...though its hard to you go, in the Father's hands, we know, that a lifetime's not too long, to live as friends."
In the days that followed, life's been hard---to say the least; it's been said there is nothing harder than losing a child...I would agree with that. But faith has sustained me, holding on to Him and being in His word have given me the strength to go on. We are told in the book of Deuteronomy “I set before you life and death, blessings and curses, now choose life.” Going on to live without Bridgett has been a choice that has needed to be made each and every day. Every morning I have had to consistently remind myself to 'choose life'. Yes, blessings have come as a result of choosing it, but there have been times when there haven’t seemed to be enough blessings... life has been very hard on those days. It is during those times I try to remember how Bridgett lived---and died--doing good and sharing with others; it encourages me to do the same.                                                              A few days ago heaven seemed to draw near once more and God’s grace was given in great measure when we were blessed by meeting Terry and Shirley…two of the people who received Bridgett’s organs.
We met as a result of our desire to raise funds for The Bridging Project; it is based upon Bridgett’s legacy of helping others by bridging youth with their elderly neighbors through service and opportunities for visiting. Bridgett’s dad decided to enter the Fargo Marathon and raise support for every mile he ran. Brother Josh also joined in the run and together they raised more than $1,000 for the project. But her Dad had a desire that ran even deeper than that, so he connected with LifeSource, the organ donation people, and eventually contacts were made and connections arranged.
And after the race, on a cold blustery day outside of Moorhead, feelings couldn’t have been warmer and emotions couldn’t have run any deeper when Terry, the gentleman from Detroit Lakes, who received Bridgett’s heart, came to meet us. He graciously let us listen to her heart---that now beats within him--its strong and regular rhythm were life-giving...in more ways than one.                    

And Shirley, the beautiful and kindhearted grandma of 10 from Bloomington, also came to meet with us. Petite and gentle, we listened carefully, as she told how hard life had been before the transplant and how difficult the road to recovery had been. Then she let us listen to her lungs…first to the bad one on the right side. Listening told us even more of her story; without any more words needing to be spoken we heard just how hard life must have been. Scarred and ineffective, air barely passed through the remaining bad lung. Then we listened to the left one…the one which first breathed life into Bridgett and now worked to bring life to Shirley…the sounds of breathing and air being exchanged were musical tones that words cannot describe.

Later Terry also reflected on being on the transplant list for more than four years and of an increasing sense of doubt that help--and hope---would ever come. Our hearts rejoiced with his as he shared that in the days since receiving his heart---Bridgett’s heart---he has returned to living fully once more. His time is once again filled with his passions of hunting, raising dogs, and being with his family.
And on that day, as hugs were shared and tears were shed a moment of levity came upon all of us when we learned that Terry and Shirley have been seemingly overtaken by an obsession new to both of them…It seems that both have now developed, since their transplants, a peculiar need for chocolate---not just a taste for the stuff, but a downright craving for it!…Listening to them recount their tremendous cravings, and how they now hoard it, stash it and make midnight runs to the store for it, brought back vivid memories of Bridgett’s insatiable appetite for chocolate! This discovery deepened our understanding that a transplant is truly more than just tissue…it is the sharing of one life with another---even the sharing of a love for chocolate. As we laughed I thought about what the Bible says, that God is pleased when we do good and share with others. And as gain met loss, and life renewed met the memories of life lost, together we learned and lived and laughed. As final hugs and phone numbers were exchanged, it seemed apparent…heaven was indeed smiling that day…through a beating heart …a breath of life…and in the blessings of                 a beautiful day.

 



Bridgett's Legacy...
The Bridging Project


A couple months after Bridgett died I received a phone call from one of the foundations who gives funding to Faith in Action. He had attended Bridgett’s funeral and was sharing about the impact it had on him. “Clearly,” he said, “her life was about service and helping others; reaching out to those in need of a friend. We believe that her message and the way she lived her life are worth sharing.” And with that doors swung wide open---a grant was received, someone was hired to work to help develop the initiative and the project to honor Bridgett’s legacy of service while glorifying her God---“The Bridging Project”---was born... “Bridging today’s youth with tomorrow’s leadership through people and their stories of yesterday.”
An intergenerational effort, The Bridging Project encourages area youth to connect with their older neighbors through short term service projects as well as establish long term intergenerational relationships. The youth lend a hand to their aging friends by assisting with yard work, painting their homes or even helping to build a wheelchair ramp.
The program is rooted in the foundation of servant leadership found in the life and ministry of Jesus Christ, and Bridgett, who was a follower of Jesus, lived that out while volunteering for Faith in Action frequently. Bridgett, a leader and active in many service projects
for the organization, was always mobilizing a group of friends to help out. She had a great love for the elderly and was studying to become a doctor. One of her life goals was to start an adopt-a-grandparent program in her community.
The Bridging Project connects youth groups, families and community organizations to well structured, local missions opportunities, where they work as a team in an affirming environment. The initiative also equips youth with relational and enhanced communication skills which will be not only be helpful to them as they interact with the seniors during the service acts, but throughout their life as well. Lastly, it gives interested youth an opportunity to further expand their leadership skills while contributing to their community in helping to develop local adopt-a-grandparent programs. In the year and half since it began more than 2,000 youth have participated in the legacy program, helping over 500 people while giving almost 5,000 hours in service. The newest part of the initiative will roll out in the fall of 2008 and will connect youth to those living with memory loss. One of the goals of this newest phase will be to encourage youth to pursue a career in the medical field, while working with the elderly, just as Bridgett would have done. The timing of this latest part of the initiative is especially poignant to us as her family; as this is the year Bridgett would have graduated from college and entered medical school...We know she would have made a wonderful doctor. And so it is our hope that through the experiences of The Bridging Project others would go on to consider becoming a doctor as well.

 

 

 


Tributes and Condolences
they live on   / KAREN VANDEGRIFT (friend)
your Bridgett was born 85 and left here in 05'. just as my son did I haven't been on this site looking at other memorials for a long time but today for some reason I looked up Bridgett and had to write what a blessing these young people were to us he...  Continue >>
Bridgette  / Brenda Taylor's Mom (friend of Bridgetts sister )
I know things do not happen by coinicidence here on earth. I would have never known about you.. but God sent your sister Meggan to be with my boy Taylor as he lay there on the pavement. I couldn't go down but she stayed with him I'm forever grateful....  Continue >>
The Hands That Held.   / Meggan S. (Sister)
Oktober 7. The year 2004. A year to the exact day before my sister died.

Trevor & I were driving with his family who were visiting him at college to their hotel that night across town.
We first caught a glimpse of a car. Wrecked...  Continue >>
Click here to pay tribute or offer your condolences
Her legacy
Lost Love  

The following, which she entitled, "Lost Love" was written in Bridgett's  journal while she was away at college. We believe it was written sometime during her freshman year. It is a conversation between two people. We were moved by it's profound depth and beauty
and wanted to share it with you...


"You felt that love was snatched away,
that I left too soon."
"You did leave too soon."
"There was a reason to it all."
"What reason? You died. You were the best person any of us knew and you died. You lost everything---I lost everything."
"No you didn't. I was and still am right here.
Lost love is still love.
It takes a different form, that's all...You can't see  their smile, or touch them or move around to dance with them. But when those senses weaken, another heightens. Memory.
Memory becomes your partner.
You nurture it.
You hold it. You dance with it.
Life has to end...but love...Love doesn't."

Read more...
 
Bridgett's Photo Album
their feast...then and now...
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