© Copyright 2010 Brooke Scalise Foundation

No words can ever explain the pain and agony of what it feels like for a parent to lose a child.  Without a doubt, there is no challenge in life a mother could be faced with having to overcome greater than this and the pain a parent suffers when they lose a child is beyond comprehension.  This tragic death has taken a toll on our family beyond what you can imagine. 

While I can’t properly articulate what I am feeling inside, I can however share the background of the days leading up to Brooke’s death and the amazing discoveries about her life that are helping give me strength to survive.  

We left for vacation to Costa Rica on July 5, 2009 with another family that we have been close friends with even before Brooke was born and that we vacationed with last year in Acapulco. Our family included myself, my significant other George, our children- Blake (14), Brooke (12), Little George (6) and Paige (6).  The other family included Fred and Kelly Bietsch, Emma (13), Brian (10) and Sara (7).  The kids were so excited about the trip and the many exciting activities there were for us to do there, especially Brooke.  

Initially, the trip started off a little rough since our luggage didn’t make it until two days after getting there, but for the most part we didn’t let this phase our family and we made the most of the situation borrowing items from our friends.  It was pretty funny to see Brooke wearing the swimsuit of a 7 year old and me the suit of a 13 year old.  Blake wore the other father’s suit and Paige, George and Little George swam in their clothes the first day and then the next day I used ponytail holders to adjust one of Sarah’s suits to fit Paige.  

The resort was beautiful, the beach was beautiful and the kids were having a blast.  From the get go they were pushing us to do as many activities as possible, especially Brooke.  The second day there she went horseback riding on the beach with Kelly and Sara.  She came back so excited.  

We enjoyed beautiful days at the beach, fun nights swimming late at the pool being rowdy and loving life.  The older kids would stay up late playing Apples to Apples (boys against the girls) and have these crazy dares the others would have to do for the losing team.  George video taped much of these activities as he participated in the madness with the older kids and fortunately we have so much of this fun on tape.  

On Thursday I woke up very ill and could barely get out of bed.  Everyone else

went out that day without me.  That evening they met with the tour company

owner, William Tours to plan the tours for the trip.  This guide was recommended

from other friends and family who had often visited Costa Rica.  I was too sick to

get out of bed so I did not meet with him to plan these excursions.  They booked

a tour with William for a Rainforest/River Tour and the ATV/Zip Line Tours.  

Saturday we did the River Tour, fed the monkey’s and enjoyed a wonderful day. 

Sunday we stayed at the resort, Brooke and Emma were busy taking scuba

diving lessons at the resort in the pool.  We stayed there all day and swam

and relaxed.                                                       

Monday, the day of the accident, we left at 8:00 am for our ATV/Zip Lining Tour.  That morning before we left I walked into Brooke’s bathroom as she was getting ready and grabbed her and hugged her and kissed her twice on the lips telling her how much I loved her and that she was the best daughter ever. Brooke was in such a happy mood and so excited.         

We had 8 ATV’s in total, the 3 youngest children rode along with the adults.  I had Paige with me, George had Little George and Fred had Sarah. We all wore helmets and goggles, initially they didn’t have enough goggles for us and had to go get more, both George and I had to do part of the tour with just sunglasses.  The hour and a half ATV drive took us along beautiful beaches and deep back into the rainforest.  I tended to be at the  back of the line, with a guide behind me most of the tour.  I preferred it this way to be able to see what was going on with everyone in front of me. 

When we arrived at the area for the zip lining we were filthy.  We were covered in dirt and dust from our excursion and laughed at how awful we looked.

The Zip Lining tour we went across 11 zip lines in the jungle.  The tour was extremely safe with multiple guides at every platform and you were always connected to the line by the cables and harnesses at every platform.  We asked if anyone had ever been injured and were reassured they had not.  They took extreme caution but it was still a bit intimidating to me, especially being up so high on these platforms in between the various zip lines.  Brooke loved it.  She had so much fun and was soaring from zip line to zip line having the time of her life.  Me personally, I was glad when I had completed the last

and looking forward to the ATV ride back.  

We continued back on the same path we had come but then stopped at a beach restaurant in Flamingo for lunch.  I videoed the group and Brooke danced in the camera so excited as she was clearly having one of her best days ever.  We joked that we couldn’t believe we were dining out as dirty as we were.  I am not sure why at that point but I encouraged Brooke to call her Dad and each of the kids spoke with him and told him they loved him.  We were within a few miles of the end of the trip and left the restaurant to head back.  

For whatever reason, the guide took a different route and began to go up a steep climb on a road in Flamingo.  Brooke was in front of me, and George was behind me with Paige bringing up the rear.  The rear guide that was to be at the end of the line was gone and had left our group.  We could not see the front guide and we were all rushing to keep up with him and catch up to the group.  Brooke was just enough ahead of me that I did not see her round the bend, but when I made the turn her friend Emma was screaming hysterically that Brooke had missed the turn and had driven straight off the cliff.  I began instantly screaming for help.  George pulled up secured his ATV and was gone down the cliff instantly.  

I don’t know how to explain it but at that tragic moment I could feel instantly in my heart that Brooke was gone.  We were all screaming for help as loud as we could and George took off to find a way down the cliff to go to her.  I began screaming why would the tour guide have led up us this dangerous road and continued yelling this.  Instinctively I called Brooke’s father, Sean, to tell him what had happened feeling that he had a right to know immediately.  This was so hard on him as you can imagine as he was thousands of miles away in another country and completely helpless.  He was later hospitalized that day after suffering a complete breakdown.

At some point Blake and the rest of our group came back to where we were.  Blake said he noticed we were not behind him and stopped which finally called attention to the front tour guide.  We were all screaming for help and not knowing what to do during this crisis.  

When George came up the hill to get me I could see on his face that Brooke was gone.  At that point I was hysterical and was clearly in shock.  I told George he had to take me to her.  I am not sure how we made it, but we got down the cliff.  I remember at one point just starting to slide and George grabbing me and telling me we could not go that way.  When we got down to Brooke the police were there (I later found out that a family from Florida that had witnessed the accident went to get the police to help at a nearby station almost immediately).  When we got to Brooke all I wanted to do was hold my baby.  But the police would never let me get closer than 20 feet to her and refused to let me hold her.  They barely spoke English and with my limited Spanish we couldn’t communicate well but they refused to let me go to her and continued to hold me back.  I was so angry, not sure how they could be holding me back and I was worried why no one was trying to help her.  I couldn’t understand it, time kept going by and they continued to refuse to help or let me to her.  George was screaming at them hysterically to help her, shock her, do CPR help us.  At least 20 minutes or more had gone by at this point and the police continued to ignore us and hold us back.  Finally I told George he had to go back up to the top and get help and get the camcorder because these police were not helping us.  He kept asking me if I was sure I wanted him to do this and I said yes because I could feel how wrong everything was.  I kept thinking what if my baby is alive and they are keeping me from her? 

When George was gone I kept screaming for help and my requests were continually ignored.  I called 911 and begged for help and screamed for a helicopter but as I later learned Costa Rica does not have life support systems such as this and very little is done to save someone in urgent situations. 

George did as I asked and made it up the cliff for a third time.  His muscles barely worked and he had to stop and get water and help from some construction workers.  When he got to the top he videoed the road and then found there were two ambulances at the top but they were not rushing to get down.  He showed the medic how to get down to Brooke.  

Shortly after he returned, and the medic made it down, George kept screaming at them to help her.  The medic finally told us Brooke was gone and there was nothing he could do.  They were not nice or sympathetic about it, we were just told she had died more than a half hour ago and that they could tell because of the color of her skin.  George and I fell to the ground and cried for the loss of Brooke and could not believe this nightmare was happening to us.  We couldn’t understand why it took so long to get help and why there was not sense of urgency.  We continued to ask to go to Brooke and I begged for them to let me hold her hand.  At the time we did not know the video camera was on and recording our every word as we begged for them to let us to our baby.  

It started to lightly rain and it became apparent that they were not going to let us go to Brooke.  A boat had come and they encouraged us to leave and told us the police would take us by boat.  The pain of leaving my baby behind was more than you can imagine.  For a moment I thought there was no way I could do it and I threw myself into the ocean and just wanted to float away.  George and police grabbed me and put me in the boat and we were taken back away by boat and then transferred by the police in a car back to the resort.  

At some point, the police came to the resort to get us and took us to another station and told us they were going to let me finally see Brooke.  George and I went to this station and waited.  We were there a long time and then they finally told us that we were not going to get to see Brooke, she was being taken to the only morgue in the country and it was 5 hours away.  We were taken back to our resort.  Later some other detectives came and interviewed us all individually and reassured us they would be looking into the actions on the part of the tour operator.  

While I know some may question why I would let my child ride an ATV in the first place, I will tell you that Brooke loved to live life to it’s fullest and every vacation we went on she insisted on a wide variety of activities.  She had driven ATV’s at our friends farm in the past and she had always loved going on the four wheelers.  The tour was on beaches and dirt roads and we were with two guides that clearly understood we had several young children.  The tour company never gave an indication at all that we would be in high risk environments and I was by her the entire time.  I would have never expected that they would have led us at high speeds up a narrow road with a 90 degree turn that if you missed you would drive off a 200 plus foot cliff with less than a few feet of room for error.  Never would I have ever imagined that a tour like this would have led to her tragic death.  

After returning to the resort, I spent the next several hours in shock and can barely recall that first evening.  I was given a sleeping pill and went to bed early.  George worked with the Embassy and Kelly worked with lawyers to see what we needed to do to claim Brooke’s body and bring her back to the states.   I spoke with very few people back home, only my Mom, sister and then two work associates, Scott Kanter(my boss) and Briana Misener (my assistant).  

We were informed that we needed to wire $4000 to claim Brooke and once the wire was complete, that it would take 7 days for it to complete to release her.  We were told we needed to go to the Embassy and to the morgue in San Jose to handle this which was 5 hours away.  Our options were to drive the 5 hours (which we knew we were not in a mental condition to do), or paying for a small plane to take us.  We had no choice but to take the children with us as our friends would not be permitted to leave the country with them.  So George, Blake, Paige and Little George and I all left the next morning on a small plane to San Jose.  Fortunately a woman from the resort went with us as we were in such shock to act as a translator and help us find our way through this big city.  

The flight took less than an hour but was very scary for the small children.  It was a single engine plane in which we were all weighed before we got on as well as our luggage.  We landed in San Jose and were completely lost at what to do or where to start.  We were heading to the morgue first and debating whether to rent a car or take a taxi.  The woman that was helping us from Reserva Conchal did not think it was safe to drive a car.  We were about to leave in a taxi when my phone rang and my boss called to inform me that he and HR at my work were handling everything and to go get the first flight we could home and be with our family.  They reassured me that they would make sure Brooke was looked after and get her home to us as soon as possible.  We went to the American counter and explained what happened.  They took us to a private office and worked to help us with the arrangements.  There were no flights left on American that we could get home on that day, but they were able to move us to a Delta flight that left in an hour.  You can’t imagine the relief of being able to avoid the additional horror we were about to encounter with the young children.  If we didn’t have the assistance of my work, the trauma we would have continued to experience with three children stranded in the large city of a foreign country would have only made our nightmare worse.  

While we were fortunate to get moved to this Delta flight we had no seats together as the flight was booked.  We had to explain to the flight attendant what we were going through and ask that they help us get seats so we could at least have an adult by each of the 6 year olds.  Both flights home I cried my eyes out and couldn’t believe this nightmare was real.

In the meantime in the states,  Brooke’s father Sean was considered to have suffered such a serious breakdown that he was put in a hospital and his family was actually not even permitted to be with him.  He has two days of his life he doesn’t even recall what happened.  He was overwhelmed with grief and suffering pain beyond words at the loss of our child.  

After we finally got home late Tuesday July 14th, we pulled in the driveway at almost midnight, and all of my family was here waiting - my parents, my sister, my Grandma, George’s mom, my aunt’s, uncles, cousins, and friends and even our family from out of town had made it here to be here for us when we got home.  Together we cried and they offered us all the love and support they could.  My parents spent the night with us, Blake and his Grandpa slept on the couch and Paige slept with her Grandma in Brooke’s room.  

My mom told me the night of the accident that Brooke’s best friends (the Fantastic Four as the called themselves – Kristen Hemmismeyer, Lauren Sullivan, and Gina Venetis) had all come over and spent the night in her room to be close with Brooke and mourn together.  These girls and had been best friends since they were 5 and 6 years old.  They too were overwhelmed with grief from the loss.   They came again to see me on Wednesday and just being close to them and hugging them helped me feel close to Brooke.  Being at home without Brooke, looking at all of her things and knowing she would never physically be here again made it so hard for all of us. The girls had all attended Church camp the last week of June, and had just gotten back literally days before we left to go to Costa Rica.

We had to go meet with the funeral home and start making arrangements for the service.  It was something you never imagined you would be doing for your child and one of the hardest things I have ever done in my life.  I knew we had to have a special service since she was such a special child and we needed to be sensitive to how many kids would be attending.  I wanted to have the service at home and then a church service the following day and truly make it a celebration of her life opposed to a morbid funeral.    

From a young age Brooke had expressed a desire to learn more about God.  In all honesty, we were not a very religious family and rarely went to church.  I considered myself to be spiritual and a Christian, but we did not place worshiping God as the priority we should have.  This was true for my parents as well as Sean’s.  Brooke had very little religious influence from us but yet she always talked about God and Jesus and had a special relationship with Christ early on.  As Brooke got older she would ask her babysitter Teresa who is a very devout Christian to tell her more about God.  She would ask to watch movies, read the bible and could never get enough.  Brooke would write me letters and ask for us to go to church more.  As early as 5 years old she was drawing pictures of Jesus and writing how much she loved her parents and would pray for them.  I knew she loved God and in her room she had post it notes up that said I love God and I love Jesus.  I also knew that on her my space page she had listed the bible as her favorite book and wrote of her love for God there.  But even though I knew this, I still wasn’t prepared for the overwhelming love she had for God and the deep personal relationship she obviously had that I did not discover until after her death.  

I found a worship journal that I had never opened because on the outside it said, “please do not read”.  Inside the journal she thanked God for always loving her.  She wrote, “I will help spread the word about you to people because I know that is what you want me to do.”  She thanked God for coming into her life, she wrote about wanting to go to church more.  She wrote of her love for her family and said we all mean the world to her, but then she wrote most importantly, You God are in my life.  

I found a letter she wrote to God in a journal the last week of June, just a few weeks before her death in which she says, “God thank you for everything, I know you are here for me every second of the day.  You still love me

even though I have sinned.  I’m sorry I don’t go to

church a lot.  Please let my mom realize that we

were made for you. Also, do the same with my

aunt.” I couldn’t believe what I was reading, it

was as if she was trying to comfort me and help

me understand that she was always God’s child.  

Along with this we found a picture of The

Return of the Prodigal Son by Rembrandt in

which Brooke has written “God” with an arrow

to the man depicting God and then “me” with

an arrow to the son kneeling in front of God. 

What 12 year old thinks this way, I have no

idea why she would have viewed herself as

the child kneeling in front of God.  

I will tell you that I had about as close of a relationship with my daughter as any mother and daughter.  Our love was so strong.  I have many letters that she wrote to me in which she tells me that I am her best friend.  We shared a bond like no other.  But I will admit that I was surprised to find out I was not what mattered most to her in her life.  I found a sheet that she had filled out at school, titled “Explore Your Future” in which it asks who do you look up to, Brooke’s response, I look up to God, Jesus, and my parents.  It also asks what is important to you, Brooke has written, God, my family, and friends are all important to me.  As close as we were, and considering she did not go to church often, she put God before me.  Not many 12 year olds would write this on a school sheet (especially considering she attended a public school).  Seeing this and the other documents made me realize how her love for God was greater than even her love for me and that she viewed herself as God’s child first.  As devastated as I am, that gives me some peace knowing Brooke is with who she loved most.  

On the same sheet, it asks what are your favorite places or environments?  Brooke’s answer, my favorite place is the ocean and in mountains.  This is exactly where the accident was, at a mountain overlooking a beach that few could even make it down to.  If Brooke were to pick her final resting spot it is exactly where she would have chosen.  

I could go on and on with what we discovered, examples of some of these entries are under the scrapbook tab of the website.  It began to become clear to me exactly what Brooke’s purpose in life was and I understood just how important it was to share this with others.

At the service we held here at the house we displayed many of these letters and copies of the artwork and drawings she had made since she was a young child.  Hundreds of people came through the house that day, we had no less than 50 people here at a time, probably usually more like 100 and it was nonstop from 2 to 9.  You could immediately see the impact she was having on others as they read her journals and viewed the memories from her life.  So many people told us how she has touched their lives.  I received emails and letters from all ages telling me of her impact.  Young kids wrote to tell me she has made them believe in God and start wanting to go to church, adult men have emailed telling me they were “spiritually challenged” before and Brooke has inspired them.  Many women told me of how they view life different now because she makes them realize they need to stop and spend more quality time with their children since it is obvious you don’t ever know what the future holds.  

While none of this brings Brooke back or minimizes the pain we are feeling, we know she is shining down from heaven and very pleased with the positive impact she has had on so many.  ( I do plan to eventually share some of these letters and emails on the successes tab of the website.) 

Because Brooke was so special and so alive, we have started the Brooke Scalise Foundation (a non for profit organization) in her honor to keep her spirit alive and continue to follow through on the things that were most important to her.  The foundation was actually George’s idea.  He grew so close with Brooke in such a short period of time.  While Sean and I were at our lowest point and not able to really think clearly, George took the lead for us on this and filed the proper papers to set up the non for profit corporation and started the website.  I can never thank him enough for this. Our neighbor Jim Thome has been helping us with the input of data on the website and again, we appreciate it so much.

Originally, we listed the purposes of the foundation to raise money for college scholarships for children in need, fund youth church programs, provide food to homeless shelters, and make donations to youth sports teams.  But after further consideration, we have decided what really mattered most to Brooke was God.  If we can bring more children closer to God than I think we would be best honoring her wishes.  Therefore we are going to focus the foundations purpose to funding youth church programs and offer scholarships to send children from families that cannot afford it to church camp as well as missions and other church awareness programs.  We are working with the church to better define the goals specifically related to this.  I know Brooke is happy with this decision.  She got so much out of church camp each year and grew even closer to God as a result of this.  I know she would want to help other children do the same.  

From the day of the accident on, Calvary Church has been there for our family.  Sean immediately went to church after receiving the phone call from me and honestly helped keep him alive through the most tragic time of his life.  The Pastoral staff is working with our families pretty much daily and praying for us to get through this.  We have all been attending grief counseling and seeking the strength of the Lord to survive this.  Fortunately Sean’s fiancé (also named Jennifer) and even recently Sean too are active members at Calvary.  I cannot even imagine going through the first few weeks without their prayers and guidance.  This is all the more reason everyone needs to accept God into your life to give you the strength to survive life’s greatest challenges.  

Since Brooke’s death there have been a number of events that have taken place that have helped reassure me that she is at peace in heaven and confirmed beyond a shadow of a doubt that heaven really exists.  Some of these events are so shocking and so boldly obvious that I am surprised by them.  But I believe the good Lord knew we had to have this to survive.  I won’t go into every detail because there are so many and they include things that have happened to many of us,  but I will share a few of the significant ones.  A few days after her death I was on the phone one morning speaking with Sean’s fiancé, Jennifer, and my TV turned itself on.  I was stunned and kept telling her about it as I was so shocked.  That next night when Sean and Brooke’s uncle Jeff were working on the photo video for the service, Jeff’s TV did the same thing.

In addition, our smoke detectors at home all started beeping from low battery.  We tested the batteries and they were fine.  For a period of days, we had a counter full of smoke detectors that had all been removed because we couldn’t get them to stop beeping.   Sean came by one morning and looked like he had seen a ghost.  He asked why all the smoke alarms were down and I told him. He informed me that his alarms at his house were doing the same thing.  After a little over a week we went ahead and changed the batteries and put them all back up.  Friday August 7th late at night George and I were in the bedroom getting ready for bed and we were upset and talking about Brooke.  It was 11:56 pm, and this time the smoke alarm went off, not just beeping but actually alarmed.  It only lasted a few seconds, just long enough for us to know it was her and not to panic and really think there was a fire.  I have lived here 10 years, and outside of once when I burned something bad in the kitchen, these alarms have never done this.  

On Friday July 31st we went to the mortuary to pick up Brooke’s ashes.  The funeral home is only a few miles from our house.  Sean and Jennifer met George and I there.  As we drove the urn home, I noticed a dump truck in front of us, on the back of this large dirty old dump truck, the words, “the Lord is our Strength” were written, exactly when I needed to be reminded most.  I looked up and thanked Brooke and God for reminding me, and of course snapped a quick picture of the dump truck with my cell phone.  

Brooke’s 13th Birthday was Tuesday August 4th.  The night before (Monday night) I had fallen asleep around 11 PM.    I heard the phone ring in my sleep and then George asked me if I heard the phone ring, I sat up and said yes and asked what time it was.  He informed me it was 12:00.  At exactly the minute Brooke’s birthday started my office line rang one time.  Not the home number where someone could have been doing this to comfort me, but the office line that very few people know.  I knew instantly it was Brooke letting me know she was okay.  The call registered on caller ID and the call came from the nearest hospital, Progress West Hospital.  I took a picture of the caller ID from two different phones and showed many family and friends on her birthday the phone caller ID log because it was so unbelievable.  Just to see the call on 8/4/09 at 12:00, not 12:01, not 11:59 but exactly midnight was such an amazing reassurance that Brooke is fine and letting me know she is happy in heaven.  She gave me the strength I needed to make it through her birthday.  

On Tuesday , we had a beautiful celebration in Brooke’s honor for her 13th birthday.  We had about 50 of Brooke's closest family and friends over and did exactly as she would have wanted.  Both sides of the family (her Dad's and mine) joined together in this. The kids swam, we barbqued, everyone wrote a personal note to Brooke on a balloon, and together we released them to her and watched them disappear into small dots.  The children colored in the street a huge mural for Brooke wishing her a happy 13th along with several large crosses.  We sang Happy Birthday, watched a special birthday video, listened to her favorite songs, and then held a candlelit vigil around the pool as we prayed.  In the end George pushed me in claiming that is what Brooke would have wanted but was kind enough to join me along with several other fully dressed adults. Of course all the kids jumped in but most of them were in swim suits.  

In addition, on her birthday a family in Costa Rica that found us through the foundation and felt connected to Brooke because of her strong Christian Faith held a memorial service at the accident site.  They put up a permanent cross with her name on it, laid fresh flowers, said prayers and even read her favorite verses from the bible.  You can read more about this under the news section of the website and see pictures in the photo album on the home page.  This was the greatest gift to Brooke ever.

Since I find writing and sharing what a special child Brooke is with others therapeutic, I know that many stories are from my point of view and about what I am experiencing.  I do not mean to discount her relationship with her father, Sean, and what he is going through.  Brooke and Sean were also very close and Sean lives for his children.  He is a fantastic father and the impact of this on him has been so devastating and I pray every day that God gives him the strength to survive.  Sean and his fiancé Jennifer were to be married on July 25th and of course this tragedy quickly moved his life from what should have been some of his most joyful days to the most tragic.  On top of dealing with the devastation from the loss of a child, they not only had to help plan the funeral but also be canceling wedding plans and a honeymoon, etc simultaneously.   Because Sean is self employed he has had no choice but to go back to work and I know many don’t understand just how difficult that would be at the lowest point in your life. 

I believe Brooke’s impact on others will continue to expand.  She has restored the faith in God for so many since her death.  Miraculously, a man has reached out to me from Costa Rica that moved there from the US in 2006.  He put an article in AM Costa Rica that he wanted to help me and would provide the resources and cover costs.  I didn't see the article, someone else forwarded it to the foundation email address letting me know this person had offered to help.  I sent a letter to AMCostaRica accepting this offer of help that was published in last Monday’s paper. (both articles are under the news tab section of the website). This wonderful man, Craig Salmond has already done so much.  He has resources and contacts in Costa Rica and together we are going to fight for accountability and to demand their country begin to have more concern and care for human life. The government in Costa Rica has to stop the corruption and focus on their responsibility to protect the tourists that they are trying to lure into the country.   It is my goal to educate US Citizens of the dangers of traveling abroad and how our life is not valued in other countries the way it is here.  Greed takes over and little is done to protect you and there is very little concern for your safety.  We need to be cautious when we leave this country and understand what we are getting into.  I consider myself to be a  well educated, well traveled, responsible mother and it still wasn’t enough to help me avoid a tragedy such as this.  We will continue to make others aware and demand additional accountability from the Costa Rican government. 

I could go on and on about many other things about Brooke that would touch you.  Honestly, I almost feel like Brooke knew this was in her immediate future.  Before we left for the trip she stayed up very late one night cleaning her room (which was extremely rare).  She had everything perfectly organized.  Her passwords to all of her emails and my space accounts were listed, a present for friend Lauren who’s birthday is August 14 hung from the hook on her closet door, her bible was out with her favorite verses marked, and she left a note to God for me to find in which she asked God to help him make me understand she was his all along. 

I thank God for giving me such a precious daughter.  I miss her more than I ever imagined you could miss someone, but I find peace in knowing one day I will hold her again and then it will be forever.  While I still can’t believe she is gone and I don’t understand why this happened, I am still so very thankful for the wonderful years we had together.  I know when I go to heaven to be with God he will answer my questions and help me better understand this. 

Please continue to pray for our family as we work to get through each day and hope at some point they get easier.  We are determined to use this tragedy to help others and bring more children closer to God.   This will be the foundations focus.  Separate from the foundation I will work to promote awareness on the dangers of travel abroad and drive change to promote responsible tourism in Costa Rica.