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  • Tammie Brenton

Be the Gift, let your brokenness be turned into abundance

That is the title of the last book I gave Madi. I vividly remember taking it to the hospital and laying it on her bedside stand. I did not know if she would read it; she was in a rough spot at that time. I had watched the girl who always fought and was determined to be strong and positive through anything, just sit there. Her eyes and silence told us she was a million miles away. Those days were scary, Matt and I fought to get her back, but no amount of effort and pleading on our part seemed to make a difference. We were frightened we were losing our girl. I remember taking a journal that I had written when she was young. As I read the stories, it was like a time machine that took us back to simpler days. We remembered the backyard tree swing that broke with a trip to the emergency room. The first lost tooth, the first bee sting, her first stitches, birthday parties with friends, and memories of her and Seth being young swirled into the room around us. Days that were long-gone on the calendar, now memories living present before us. Tears ran down our faces as I finished the last page and closed the book, hugged and kissed her and told her I would be back tomorrow. I left the book by Ann Voskamp on the table beside her. Recently, I was going through the things that we had gathered from the hospital room before she went to hospice, and there was the book. I opened it where the blue ribbon bookmark laid, preserving where her fingers last touched it, and saw that she had underlined these words, "busy is a choice, stress is a choice, giving yourself to joy is a choice. Choose well." I read those words, my fingers rubbing the page of the book, I imagined her underlining them, and I felt her speaking them to me, right now at this moment when the whole world seems to be pressing in, she was reminding me to press into my choice. The same thing I was asking her to do when she had been in the hospital for 42 dark days. I think about the little choices I have every day. I can choose what I put in my mind and when. How do I want to start my day? How do I want to end my day? How much movement do I want? I choose not only what I put into my mind, but I can also decide what I put into my body. During this time, when it seems like choices have been taken from all of us, it helps me to remember what I can choose. Today I will "choose well."


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