Dear Brandi (age 5):
Look at the blond girl sitting next to you. The one with pig tails and rainbow colored sandals. She's going to become family to you. Even though you will lose touch down the road, she is shaping who you are. You will not become who you are meant to be without her. You will be there with her as she starts dating her future husband, and you will stand next to her at her wedding. Trust her. And tell her when she hurts you.
Dear Brandi (age 12):
Jr High. This is a tough year. Know that everyone is feeling as insecure as you. You are pretty. You are good enough. You are smart. Embrace your awkward laugh and curly hair.
He does not matter. He is only trying to tear you down because it makes him feel more like a man. His actions do not determine your self worth. You will always remember those moments, but they don't have to control you. Not every man acts that way. It's ok to forgive. It's ok to remember. It's not ok to carry this fear with you into other relationships.
Dear Brandi (age 18):
Senior year of High School! All you want to do is "get out of this town!". You want to break free and see the world and experience everything. You are not ready. Stick around that sleepy little town for awhile longer. Spend as much time as you can with your friends. Drive around town with the windows down, and the music up, as often as you can. Soon you won't know anyone there and won't have a reason to go back. But you'll miss it.
The prom dress is a great idea. It's beautiful and you won't regret it when you look back on pictures later. The prom date was a good choice too. He will move on, and so will you, but you will remain friends.
Cherish every moment with your mom. You do not have much more time to enjoy her before her accident.
Wear a bikini as much as possible. After 2 back-to-back pregnancies you may never wear a bikini again. Enjoy it now! Embrace your youth.
Dear Brandi (age 19):
He's not worth it. Let him fly. It's not about you. Nothing you can do will change the situation. It is easier to make a clean break, and to move on. He was only in your life for a season. He's not "the one". Your heart will be broken, and you will cry when it doesn't work out. It's ok to be sad. Someone is going to tell you the phrase "Truth and time tell all". Carry this with you. Its a constant reminder that everything will be revealed in time. Be patient. Mend your heart. Move on.
You are about to meet someone who will make your toes tingle.
Your mom will survive. She will make it. But she won't be the same. Do everything you can for her. Be there. Tell her you love her. Recovery will be a long road for her and she needs you. She will be able to walk again (though the DRs are unsure). Her brain stem injury will take over and change everything.
Continue to wear the bikini as much as possible.
Dear Brandi (age 21):
Yes. He's the one. You've been together long enough now that you know this is something special. He's your Prince Charming on a white horse. He will save you from yourself more often than you can imagine. He will step up to the plate and he will make a great husband. It's ok if everyone else thinks you are too young to have that ring on your finger. You know that this real. You know that he's amazing. Plan the wedding. Buy the dress. Mail the save the dates. You are making the right choice.
Don't buy the house. You will be stuck in a bad investment when the economy crashes. Rent for awhile. Save the money.
Dear Brandi (age 24):
You are about to be a mom. It's ok if you are nervous. It's ok to feel like you are not as prepared as you "should" be. You will be ok. The baby will be ok. Your life will be very different once he arrives. Right now you are thinking about all of the things you want to teach your children, and all of the things you want to do for them. You daydream and imagine what this baby in your belly will be like. Blond or Brown hair? Blue or Brown eyes? Tall or short? He's perfect. You have never known a love as true as the one you are about to know for your child. You will become a mama bear, and wear that badge with honor.
Try not to lose who you are when the baby arrives. You are still a wife, a woman, and a friend. It will be hard but make time for yourself.
Oh, and put that pizza down. Really. You'll be so glad you did.
Dear Brandi (age 26):
Life is good. Life is full of music, laughter, and love. That baby? He's almost a year old. He will be just shy of 18 months when the new baby arrives. 2 kids in less than a year and a half and a husband who offers unconditional love daily. You are very blessed and very loved. (And super busy!) Cherish those slobbery baby kisses. Cherish those first steps. Cherish the man who works hard to take such good care of you. Cherish the little one who will be in your arms soon. Life is too short not to cherish every moment.
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