Founder's Story
by Brenda Flowers, Founder of Memory Trees

I was born in the beautiful state of New Hampshire, raised in Connecticut, joined the Navy for a few years where I was stationed in Maryland and married a very nice young man. I gave birth to a bouncing blue-eyed baby girl named Kimberly Brenda on an Easter Sunday. I lived in several places throughout Maryland for about 24 years.
Kimberly was an adorable and quiet little girl. She was a protector of the hurt, creative, witty and very theatrical—she loved making people laugh! She was seven years of age when her father and I divorced. I could have moved back to Connecticut to live comfortably with my family. Instead, I chose to financially struggle and stay in Maryland, with no support system, so Kimberly and her father could visit with each other as often as possible.
As Kimberly got older she declared her independence and had her friends call her “Kym” or “Kymmie,” but family always called “Kimberly.” She had years of fun while in Girl Scouts, she loved singing in the choir, enjoyed jazz and tap dancing, and had a passion for equestrian riding and competition. Many mornings I would have to get her off the to stable at 4:30 a.m. We made it a tradition to stop at McDonald’s first for breakfast. In spite of many cold mornings those special times warmed our hearts.
Kimberly with her good friend, Sean

Her Daddy’s Death
Just before Kimberly’s 14th birthday, I experienced one of the most difficult challenges that I ever had. I had to tell her that father died from a heart attack. I will always remember that moment . . . the look on her face, seeing her pain . . . it was horrible. Walking her through the mall to buy her black dress for the funeral felt so unnatural. I watched her go through motions that no child should have to go through—she lost her daddy. What would her life be like now?

All Alone
She struggled with the loss of her father. Her father’s family made very little contact with her after the death of her father and she experienced a second loss. His family kept her inheritance as well as all assets to the business, which he and I had founded—leaving Kimberly with nothing. After a number of pleadings to them on Kimberly’s behalf, I ceased calling. Kimberly soon realized that she was pretty much on her own. Many times I wondered how her beloved father, must be turning in his grave.

Lies and More Lies
Kimberly became more depressed and started cutting her wrists. She was in counseling and the professional told me that the cuts were just “gestures.” She started dating a young man who had lied to her numerous times. I did not trust this boy. I tried to think of ways to discourage her from seeing him in a way that would not make her defiant where she would sneak to see him. One day I called him to reiterate the fact that Kimberly was not well and for him to tell her the truth about having another girlfriend. He acknowledged knowing this and promised me that he would be honest with her. A few nights later, on November 3, 1992, he lied again to Kimberly. She witnessed this when she saw him leave his mother’s apartment to drive his secret girlfriend home. At approximately 10:30 p.m. she shot and killed herself while sitting in her car, which was parked front of his mother’s apartment.

“That Night”
I arrived home from my second part-time job “that night” a little after 10:00 p.m. I would have been home sooner, but a young pregnant girl had no way to get home so I offered to drive her. I arrived home to find a note from Kimberly, which read “Mom, gone for a drive, Love Kimberly.” It was late and I had no idea where she went or who she was with. I felt angry about having to work and not being able to talk to her, to hold her, and give her extra attention and support during this time.
I remained in my dress just in case I needed to rush out to get her from somewhere and I lay down for just a minute. The sound of someone knocking at my door awakened me about 2:00 a.m. Was that Kimberly? Had she forgotten her key? Slowly, I arose from my bed and staggered to the door. I peeked through the keyhole to view distorted figures of police officers. I wondered who they could be looking for, and asked “May I help you?” while thinking they were at the wrong address. They asked, “Are you Kimberly’s mother?” Oh dear . . . my breathing quickened and my mind started racing. “Yes, I’m her mother, can I help you?” They asked if they could come in. In silence, I robotically unlocked the bolt lock and motioned them toward the sofa.

Quietly I sat across from them. My eyes were fixed on one young officer who was unable to make eye contact with me. He sat at the edge of the sofa resting his elbows upon his knees. His hat was dangling from his fingertips as he struggled with his words. Barely breathing, I remained frozen with my eyes fixed upon him and thinking “Dear God, please . . . oh, dear God!” He gently broke the deafening silence “Ma’am, your daughter is dead.”
The surrounding walls caved in and the room went black. A noise erupted from my body that sounded like an animal. The biblical term “wailing” defined itself to me as a sound like that of an animal, emitting from the very depths of one’s soul. What emotional pain, despair, and sense of hopelessness must have consumed my baby? What was her pain in those final moments? I realized that I would never be called “mom” again, nor share experiences that most mothers and daughters enjoy as their daughters enter college, get married, have babies, and so on. My life was permanently changed and I had absolutely no control over that. I wanted to die.

The Funeral
I went through the motions during the funeral receiving about 400 visitors. It was a parent’s worse nightmare. Most mothers don’t give the eulogy when they lose a child, but there was no way anyone could stop me. I sat up until 3:00 a.m. preparing my final gift to my baby, a gift from my torn heart. I knew that I would never be the same again. Not only did my baby suddenly sweep away her life but she took with her my motherhood, and part of my future along with as hers.

Days Following
My days were dark. The reason I had to live had gone back to the earth. I had no energy to get up in the morning. All the vibrant life I had within me was drained, leaving behind a vacuum of darkness and hopelessness. I wanted to hold her so badly and feel her long curly hair tickle my nose when she hugged me. I missed the gentle smell of her apple shampoo and hearing her say, “I love you, mom.” Oh, how intense the pain! I never knew such pain of the heart could radiate throughout one’s whole being. I felt as if I were only a fragment left of what I once was. I was tired. Plain and simple . . . I wished I could just die to stop the emotional pain.

Brenda on the
Maury Povich show 1994
Years Later
Though it has been years since losing my baby, I still have emotional tidal waves of grieving. Still, some of the hardest things for me to do is grocery shop and go to malls. I find myself pushing my grocery stroller past Kimberly’s favorite foods and avoiding her favorite place to hang out. I miss her so badly. As I feel tears welling up again, I also know they will subside -there was a time I was afraid to cry because I might not be able to stop.

Leaning More on God
I moved to Colorado hoping to start a new chapter in my life. I discovered more of God’s beautiful creations where I journey to for peace and comfort. These miracles await and beckon many of us who grieve. When I visit the mountains, solace and comfort sweep through my being as our Creator unfolds each new layer of beauty . . . one valley after another and one majestic formation after another. The skies’ breathtaking splashes of color accentuate the graceful marriage between themselves and soaring mountaintops. Comfort, which I receive when visiting these mountains, is indescribable. A deeper understanding of God’s love for each one of us swelled within me as I realized just how much He wanted me to have peace and happiness in my life.
Can you visualize a special place of comfort where you feel a peace? What is seen? Does your mind’s eye capture natural sceneries? Many of us are in awe when it comes to the relational balances between earth, waters and skies. Amazingly spectacular aren’t they? All this beauty has been created for each one of us to seek, to explore and to embrace its silent comfort. Earth’s beauty is more than just a “visual observation.” When we step into nature’s powerful realm, we become part of God’s cycle of “balance” and “harmony” and we become a small part of its orchestra.
Embracing these beautiful lands is one of many confirmations of God’s love for us. I have found now a special place where I can go to receive His wonderful comfort and turn to the mountainsides when my heart is heavy or when my mind is troubled. I also receive great comfort when reaching out to those who suffer. One ministry is the “Memory Tree of Lights.”
I pray that each of us will embrace more of God’s Word, His miraculous comforts, and be always sensitive to the needs of those who journey with such a similar horrific loss. Amen.
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