Hi ya'll! It's Ester. I wrote a while ago to check in and see how ya'll were getting along.
Today I'm asking you to join us in celebrating the birth and gift of life that is our very own Miss Brooke.
(That is Brooke in the back, holding Grace. I'm standing in front of her).
We weren't kidding when we said she was a childhood friend. She saw us at pretty dorky stages in our lives.
When Michael and I embarked on this journey together, he saw how big it would get. He got me excited and I loved working on this project with him. When I really started promoting J.J., I added 300+ people on Facebook. Everyone I remembered from high school, Michael's old friends...anyone, everyone. Brooke was among them. Many of you, if you're still reading, checked out the page. I'm sure plenty of people did not. Many sent me emails asking about Michael, asked what he was "in for." How long he was in for. A few friends asked if they could write him. A few told me what I was doing was wrong - that Michael should be serving his sentence in quiet contemplation. That he didn't deserve to be heard.
It's hard to have a brother or a son or spouse in prison. It's hard sometimes, when you're at a wedding and run into a lot of people from the old days, and they ask about the family, to say, "Michael is in prison." I used to say he lived in Florida. He DID. It wasn't a lie. I didn't want to freak people out. I didn't want to feel embarrassed. I didn't want to field a bunch of nosy questions.
As I worked on J.J. and as I started to tell people about it, I learned that if there are over 2 million people incarcerated in the U.S. (and there are), chances are, you know one of them. Chances are that the high-power executive at your workplace spends a weekend a month visiting her little brother in prison. Chances are that 5 or 10 people you went to school with are in prison or jail. Chances are that you or someone you love has made a choice to either support or to disown a loved one who became incarcerated. I'm just guessing. I don't have all the facts and figures.
When Michael went to prison, he had some friends and family who disowned him. ...And he had some friends and family who circled and said, "We are here for you." Brooke did that for both of us. I had hardly been in touch with her since we were kids, but when I was pregnant and my world was changing so fast that I had a break down, she called me. To check on me. Because she could tell something was wrong. We spent hours on the phone and she talked me down and calmed me down and told me how she could help.
Brooke is smart. She is one of "those people" who are almost sickeningly sweet with optimism, with hope and a positive outlook. She sees the silver lining in everything. She thinks and acts in ways that put others first. She is gentle and kind. She has a calming way of talking that is refreshing and encouraging. I love the living daylights out of her.
I mentioned before that it's hard to tell people that you have a loved-one in prison. Sometimes they say, "me too!" And sometimes they do everything they can to avoid the rest of conversation with you. Brooke seemingly said, "Well that's kind of a bummer. How are you holding up? Anything I can do to help encourage you?" And that's how you make friends in rough circumstances. Brooke has become one of my dearest friends. And I'll venture to say she is one of Michael's. And my mom's. She's invited to our birthdays and holiday parties and I wish she lived closer so I could share a bottle of wine with her today.
(Ester, Brooke, THE MOM, Grace)
Michael wanted to say Happy Birthday to our dearest friend. We are so blessed, Brooke, to have you in our lives. We are honored that you choose to be in our lives, dysfunctional as we can be :)
We are so thankful for you! Happy birthday, Brooke!
"A light heart lives long."