About six weeks ago one of our dear friends, Ashley, gave birth to a beautiful baby girl and placed her for adoption with an amazing couple, Jon and Emily. Emily was my dearest companion on my LDS mission. Chris and I introduced Ashley to Emily and Jon. I have often marveled how this birth was surrounded by so many contradictions: infertility/fertility, sorrow/joy, and life/death. Briana Blackwelder was Ashley's midwife and orchestrated a serene balance between the conflicting emotions and experiences.
Briana held Ashley throughout her pregnancy and cried with her many times over the sorrow of placing her baby for adoption. She helped Ashley to be strong and rejoiced with her when little Asha Scout was born.
On the day Ashley delivered Asha I was about eight weeks pregnant myself. Briana celebrated with us and tried to help us find the heart beat. A week later we all attended a beautiful party (a "birthabration") to honor of Ashely and Asha. Just as the celebration began, I started to miscarry. Chris and I wept and turned to Briana for comfort and wisdom. She helped us feel much better and prepared us for the coming days.
Briana was connected to all of us. She was Ashley's dearest friend through this process. She was our wisest and most comforting friend during our own trial. And for Jon and Emily she was Asha's first caregiver and the angelic midwife who helped them finally to realize their dream of becoming parents.
One week ago, on Easter morning, Chris and I received the news that Briana was killed in a tragic car accident. Easter is a celebration of death and life, and for us it marked what would be the beginning of many days of mourning Briana's death and celebrating her life.
Here is the tribute that the local news paid her (it was the lead story that night):
Her memorial service was on Wednesday. It was amazing, touching, and heartfelt, as people told stories of her extraordinary life. Chris wrote a song as was able to play it for her family after the service was over. Here is his song:
Last night, a group of our friends gathered to celebrate her again. We had amazing food and great conversation--things she would have loved.
Today I made shortbread-a favorite recipe of hers. I accidentally dumped a lot of it into the kitchen sink where it crumbled, but it still tasted amazing.
Briana was an amazing daughter, sister, midwife, and friend. Hundreds of people have expressed how she changed their lives, including many mothers she helped to deliver.
Briana Blackwelder we love you and will miss you.