This is Gaela's update in December, 2011...prior to the loss of her brother.
Gaela is doing beautifully. She was a finalist in the Inspireum Soccer Awards through January. She did not win although she did earn a $1,000 scholarship for being a finalist in the contest. The winning player was a young man with only one leg, who was a soccer goalie...with a winning season! He inspired US!!... Thank you for all of the support and kindness you shared with her through that process. She is currently half way through her freshman year of college courses as a Junior taking 4 AP classes.... She has maintained over a 4.0 average and is the 11th ranked student in her class of 546 students. She is at soccer practice daily and three times a week has a second practice. I don't know how soooo many girls maintain this... I am proud of all of them. They have highly disciplined lives. She just returned from some national play in Texas...where Gammy an Grandpa happily hosted the team to a real Texas Barbeque!!. The heaviness of Charlie seems to have lifted from her and she is happy. She will be trained finally as a waitress at Sandbridge Island this summer and is attending her Junior ring dance on Saturday. This has been the most digustingly difficult year that she will hopefully ever face in life. She has had to fight the urge to expect tragedy or bad news since this is a common defense mechanism. She has also felt a bit isolated from the high school noise at times because of the maturity and seriousness of thought that our experience has developed in her. Perhaps, one of the greatest gifts that she values from our tragedy has been her heightened appreciation for good people... friends of all ages. Kindness from strangers, sweet words of praise, and connections with many more people than a quiet year would have brought. She fell in love with our town, and the business owners, and the people. She lives among the most lovely, diverse, colorful, and meaningful people. They exceed her expectations and meet her needs in all areas...Our southside pocket of Virginia Beach, the seashore haven, is the extended family that any young lady would hope to have. She will be playing in the Jefferson Cup in March, the New Jersey PDA in May, and on to the Nationals in Chicago this Summer.... One of her coaching staff members was the assistant coach for Mia Hamm and the Gold Medal Olympics team... Gaela has always had a strong appreciation of Mia and Coach Hoffmann often marvels at the recent parallels. Our "Mia" and Mia Hamm both lost younger brothers and are dedicated to charity work to heighten awareness of organ donation... She hopes to work with Mia on a possible future event to that end. Gaela is simply a kind and loving daughter to us and a dear and affectionate sister to her brothers. We are always aware of the moments that pass and are dedicated to honest, loving, conversations and connections in the life that we've been gifted.
Gaela, just like her brother Jack, struggles with the loss of her best friend and brother, James. They were sooo close. They rode to school together each day, signed up to be in as many of the same classes together as they could, and shared the same friends. Their social events and parties were identical.
This secondary and tremendous loss has changed and injured all of us, including Gaela, forever. Again, out of respect for her privacy, I can't share her personal pains and struggles but, I can also say that she is surviving.
She has graduated with honors and a 4.23 GPA. She was the recipient of the Medallion award, Marine Corps young leaders award, Inspireum national scholarship, captain of her soccer team, awarded first team All District, All District tournament, all regional, all regional tournament, and All Tidewater for soccer, as well as the Kellam sportsman of the year award. She is attending William and Mary in the Fall and to my delight, surfing daily for hours.... as is Jack. I think they have found James on every wave.
As she prepared for graduation she texted,
Feel like I'm missing someone in all this graduation preparation... Miss you James. #flashbackfriday
It's all so sad.
I suppose the most important thing
that we learned quickly, was that
no matter how tough your current
situation, no matter how painful,
no matter how tempting it is to pull
the blankets over your head and
escape, we must remember, that it
could always be worse.
Don't regret a day wasted, a call not
made, anger that lasts too long;
jump back into the sunshine, the
embraces, and the laughter as soon
as you can manage... and don't
wait for anyone to get you moving. Become your own mother. Cherish your
own life. Protect your own happiness.
It doesn't get better. There will always be family events, holidays, and milestones that they are missing. There will always be memories and quiet moments that cause us great longing and hot tears...
No, it doesn't get better... But, get up, get out, and get happy. And you'll make a wonderful discovery... YOU get better, although your situation does not.