I first met Brandy, after being captivated by her beautiful daughter, Amara. It was a warm July day at a 5K for orphan awareness, and out of the corner of my eye I saw a sweet little girl sporting shades and braids. Quickly I noticed she was an exceptional child, the new way to describe a child with special needs. Children in general can draw me in no matter what, but when there is a child with exceptionalities (special needs) I sometimes jump in rather aggressively. Who knows, I might have kissed Amara, I’m not sure; I am sure I adored her from the second I laid eyes on her. She was simply sugar, from head to toe, with the softest, marshmallow cheeks, and gorgeous silky hair. Then there was her mama, Brandy: a beautiful, young, and warm woman, who carried herself with a demeanor that screamed fighter and heroine all at the same time. On that particular day, Brandy found herself weary in the race of life, a race that required a single mother the 24 x 7 care of a child with many severe needs. It was clear to me that our paths had collided that day by the Devine hand of God. I joined in their story just shy of 6 years into their race together. Today, I would like to share a glimpse into their story. I am confident you will agree Brandy exemplifies a woman of Strength and Dignity.
At just 26 weeks into her pregnancy, Brandy was informed that her baby had a stage-4 brain hemorrhage and would not survive outside the womb. Due to the bleek prognosis, as Brandy searched baby names and came upon the name Amara, which in Greek means eternal, it seemed more than fitting. 2 weeks later, at 28 weeks, Brandy began to hemorrhage and was rushed to the ER. Early assessments indicated a need to be transported by way of life flight to the nearby children’s hospital, but Brandy was not stable enough to fly. Night passed and the next morning Brandy asked God to allow her to deliver at the hospital where Amara would ultimately receive care, so there would not be physical separation between the two of them in those early days and moments. God allowed this to be, and on January 31st, 2006, Brandy was life-flighted to the children’s hospital and soon after welcomed the great gift of Amara Marie to this world weighing in at a whopping 2lbs. 3oz. and 14inches long.
Amara’s prognosis was terminal from the start, but at 27 days old, Brandy convinced the doctors to allow her to take sweet Amara home. The first month was completely focused on getting enough food in Amara and keeping her temperature up. She ate and slept. Most would think this would be easy care, but early on seizure activity began. The seizure activity caused swelling on Amara’s brain, and great discomfort. Amara was sent to a neurosurgeon, but the neurosurgeon, given Amara’s prognosis, was not eager to perform any life saving procedures. The doctor suggested Amara be given medication to manage the pain until she eventually passed away. Brandy did not accept that course of treatment, and at 4 months of age Amara underwent her first surgical procedure, to have a shunt placed.
With all of Amara’s medical concerns, Brandy was unable to work, and unable to qualify for nursing care for Amara. With that, Brandy focused on helping Amara live the best life possible each day that God allowed her to have.
During Amara’s first 2 years of life, doctors repeatedly told Brandy that Amara was not going to survive. This made the process of bonding and attaching completely to Amara difficult for Brandy. Imagine just waiting every day for what doctors are telling you is inevitable, your daughter passing away from this life. That is a heavy weight to carry into each and every day. Finally, Brandy decided she would just stop asking doctors about prognosis, and start living life with Amara.
In 2010, Amara was placed on hospice care due to uncontrolled seizure activity. Feeling incredibly helpless during this time, Brandy would pray that God would comfort Amara, help her to breathe, allow Brandy to be able to physically touch Amara and not induce a seizure. Finally, with no relief and Amara’s condition worsening, Brandy asked God to just release her to Himself. Feeling fully surrendered to God’s plan, no matter the outcome, it was in that moment, God did just the opposite of her request and delivered that baby girl right back to Brandy. Amara’s seizures began to subside, her health improved. Through the whole process God broke Brandy’s mama heart wide open for her little girl, and she was all in … forever…knowing and trusting God with their every moment.
“We fit together like 2 puzzle pieces” – Brandy
Forever would still hold true, but not much being shared on this side of eternity. On September 24th 2015, Amara Marie was called to her eternal home into the arms of her incredibly loving Father God. I asked Brandy to share about those days, those last earthly moments. Because these moments are so precious, almost sacred words, I will not add to them, or take away from them.
“The last time I talked to Amara was at the funeral home. Surprisingly, she looked like she was peacefully sleeping. I remember kissing her forehead, her hand, and realizing this was the last time that I would see her and kiss her sweet hands. I placed my head on hers and began to pray. Out of nowhere, I was concerned about what she was going to wear to heaven. I kissed her and asked her what she wanted to wear to heaven. I laid my head back on hers. I could see Amara’s arms and hands stretched wide, skimming over the top of daisies as she ran through the field. She ran past me wearing a long white dress and hair bouncing with every step she took.
My final goodbye and I knew I would see her again.”
Some might say that Amara was without a voice, being non-verbal, but I would say she had a louder voice than most, because of the mama she had. Brandy fought for Amara, when she was overlooked, thought less of, not having her needs acknowledged or attended to. Brandy was tenacious for her baby girl. Maintaining strength and giving her sweet girl great dignity in the process! It reminds me of how God has loved us through His Son Jesus. We were once disregarded, lost in sin, with no voice, but God showed us love through Jesus, allowing the greatest love gift of His Son to give us an eternal gift of life! Eternal, without end…
Brandy sent me this picture above, taken almost exactly one year after Amara being lifted to her heavenly home. Brandy explained the warmth of the sun around her that day felt as though Amara was right there with her, don’t overlook the joy on her countenance. It’s in the light of Jesus, who is with us, that we can walk in the midst of dark days…in the great light of His presence He will fill us with His peace and His joy to sustain our every moment.
I look forward to running some daisy fields with that beautiful girl an her amazing mama one day soon!
Thank you Brandy for sharing this part of the story with us, we are honored.
Amara and my Libi…BFF’s FOREVER!