Memorial website in the memory of your loved one
Her legacy
Homecoming  
Her Eulogy

Homecoming


Bridgett was coming home. And it was going to be a great weekend together.

Whenever Bridge was coming home, whether it be from work, or college or an overnight at a friend’s house, it was always looked forward to. It was so nice to hear her call out, “hello family, I’m home!” Last Friday she was coming home for homecoming. She would see her friends, “get” to help her mom decorate the church on Saturday and then on Sunday go to church with her family. It would be good to have her home, good to be around her, it always was…How could you help but love her?

Her laugh was unforgettable and contagious. Her smile warmed your heart. She was a teenager, a young woman actually, a leader, a friend, a sister, a daughter and grand daughter. And in her 19 years she learned, loved and lived to the fullest. With a passion for life, for her family, her friends and her God.

As we go in her room now and look around at the photos on the walls and read her writings and journals, we stand in amazement at who she was and all she had done while living. The photos of her family and friends surrounded her as she slept. Books for learning and books about God and her faith lay near her bed. Her thoughts, her dreams, her goals are scratched down on paper and attached to the wall, set on the dresser or lay strewn about the floor. She didn’t have time to clean her room, she was too busy living life.

A purpose driven life. She “got it”, was said on the news the night before she died. What was the “it” for her? In 2nd grade, at AWANA, she learned “it” meant having a personal, intimate friendship with her Lord. And that year, she came to know and understand what it was to know Jesus. She seemed to understand right away that “it” was about loving and serving the Lord your God with all your heart, your mind, your soul and your strength.

She knew it wasn’t about other things. Like being popular, or cool. About having the nicest clothes, or car, or lots of money. “It” was about reaching out to help others. Going the extra mile to make others feel special. It was about calling those whom you loved several times a day and ending every conversation with “I love you.”

Sometimes “it” was shared through her joy in life, like telling the same joke over and over again and getting people to laugh with you, even though they’d heard it a hundred times before. At times it was about having the courage to stand up for someone who could not stand up for them selves. Or it meant standing up for your own convictions. Or sharing the pain of others, helping them through it. Or it meant taking the time to send a letter. And taking the time to read your Bible. Sometimes it was visiting Grandma. And at other times it was about being purposeful.

Like writing down 10 goals for your life. Some of those goals were about being more patient and kind-hearted. Or being more joyful. One goal said she wanted to have a lot of cats. Still another described her desire to start an Adopt a Grandparent program in her community. One was to go to college and become a doctor. Another, to go on a mission trip. But the one that was starred said, ”I would like to help people after they have been in a life changing accident by caring for them.” Maybe it was meant to say…”I would like to help people after I have been in a life changing accident by caring for them.”

Yes, our Bridgett was very purposeful. But she was also playful. She never worried about embarrassing herself. She laughed at herself harder than anyone else. She loved her cats even though she was allergic to them. She could hit a softball like a major leaguer. She was spontaneous. Fun. Joyful. She was Bridgett.

But…if there was one thing she didn’t like or “get”…it was cleaning her room. She had no time for “it.” There were relationships to be made. Laughs to be had. Compassion to share. Lives to impact.

She majored on the majors…She focused on what was important…Doing ministry. Sharing her faith through word and deed and thought. Being with people. Loving them. Caring for them…just as the Jesus she had learned about, the Jesus she grew to love and worship, had once done.

Bridgett somehow may have known her time was short and she needed to make the most of it while she was here. Her journal, dated 6-29-99, written when she was 13 years old, said the following, “I can’t sleep, too much on mind. My eyes are watering, I am crying for a couple of reasons. One, because of the death of Sam (her cat and best friend) and two, because I am kind of scared of death myself. Why…I don’t know, but what I do know is that sometimes you think that someone’s death is your fault, but you really had no way in preventing it. When I die, I don’t want others to sit and think “oh this is my fault, if I would have done this or that, maybe she would still be here.” No, I want people to rejoice. I am in a far better place with streets of gold and I’ll be able to meet the Creator of all things and finally say “I’m home now.” My only wish is for my dad and all my grandpa’s and grandma’s to go to heaven with me so we can spend eternity together…

I believe we come into this world as a candle and as we become older we have a choice of where we will go and what we will do. That is when Christians are set apart as candles with flames. I believe I am a flame. And so is my family. I just hope my daddy and grandparents are flames too. I love them a lot and hope they wanna come to heaven too.”

Yes Bridgett got “it”…She was a flame, burning brightly for all to see.                                                            
To help keep her focused on being that flame, she often would write out scripture or sayings and post them on her wall. One of them was from Ephesians 6:19 and it said: “And don't forget to pray for me. Pray that I'll know what to say and have the courage to say it at the right time, being bold in telling the mystery of the Gospel to one and all.”
Another from John 15:13 said, The greatest love you can have for your friends is to give your life for them.”
And “Getting what you want isn’t nearly as important as giving what you have.” 
     
And
“Compassion is passion with a heart.”                               
And “Talent without humility is wasted.”
Bridgett walked out her door everyday looking at those quotes. They reminded her to live “it” everyday. To be a flame for all to see. No wonder when she would come home we were always glad to see her.

Last Friday night, she didn’t quite make it to our home in Becker. But we are certain she did make it to Homecoming. And on Sunday we know Dan was already there to lead her to the throne where she would meet up with her King, her Jesus. We know and we trust it was beautiful. We almost heard her say, ”I’m home now…”
Of all the lessons we learned from Bridgett, one of the most important was to be anchored to the Rock. She was firmly planted there holding out her hand, reaching out to those around her, pulling them up onto the Rock beside her. As she leaves us, we are left to stand on the Rock on our own. Her departure challenges us to become the strong one. To be the one whose hands are reaching out to others.                                                    
On Sunday afternoon, after Bridgett’s Homecoming, her dad was on his way back to Fargo, when he stopped at Taco Bell to grab a bite to eat. He was opening a packet of taco sauce, when he was stunned to see what it read. It said, “I’m in good hands now.” Even in her death she was reaching out to comfort us. Telling us she was ok.
If there is anything that Bridgett would’ve wanted for all of us who are left behind, is not to just mourn her loss, but instead become a light to the world for her Jesus. To be His hands in her absence.


"I believe I am a Flame..."  
"I Believe that I am a Flame..."   “I believe we come into this world as a candle and as we become older we have a choice of where we will go and what we will do. That is when Christians are set apart as candles with flames. I believe I am a flame.” An entry in Bridgett's journal, written when she was 13. This Christmas we remembered Bridgett and lit a candle in honor of her life as a flame and one in honor of Dan.  The luminaries represent our love and memories of Bridgett and Dan. In the new year we hope that the lights from these candles become engrained in all our hearts. That we will carry on in Bridgett’s honor, being set apart as flames ourselves. To be witnesses, as she was, to the love of His Son and of the greatness of God. Back when she was in 8th grade, a song came out that Bridgett loved, "Go Light your World" ...as tribute...let's...

Relational. Intentional. Joyful.  
Relational: Bridgett loved to be with people. Her friends, her family, her crowd, her classmates, her roommate. From her teachers to her co-workers, she thrived on interaction. If she could help you out by doing something that would make a difference in your life—from pitching in to taking on a large task, she was all over it. She was a people person, caring about others. Caring enough to “do” when the doing needed to be done, yet sensitive enough to "be" when being was the thing needed most. If you needed someone to lead, she could march to the front and lead…If you already had the leader and needed a “do-er” Bridgett was just the person to do, anything to help out…If the thing that was needed was just someone who could be there…be beside you, just listen, cry with, talk to…she’d be there for that too. Whether it was hard questions about faith matters; like why does God seem so far away?... to soft questions like, how come it is called a butterfly, when it’s not made of butter? Bridgett loved to ponder the best of life’s questions, especially if it meant helping someone draw closer to God.
Being, doing, leading…that was Bridgett.
Intentional: If you’d look up purposeful in the dictionary, Bridgett’s picture would be there! If someone was in need of an advocate, she’d go out of her way to connect with them, make sure they were doing ok. If one of her family or friends was blue, she’d make it a point to call, visit, be there, spend time with them. Did they need to laugh? Whatever it took, jokes, sharing her sense of humor, even being self effacing if it made you feel better! If the path you were walking wasn’t so good, she’d pray about it and then make sure she connected with you about it…calling you on the carpet if you needed it, lovingly, gently, even angrily! She wasn’t afraid to share her wrath if you deserved it!
I remember the day one of her high school classmates died and they announced it at school that morning. She came home that day and told us about the cruel and hurtful things fellow classmates had said about the student who died. The coldness in their hearts and their lack of compassion upset her, she cried as she related the story of the things they said…I remember asking her what the teacher did…she just shook her head and said no one did anything. When they continued, she had enough, she turned around and railed on them…telling them to stop their despicable behaviors…to just shut up…Good for her. She knew how to humble the proud, confront the arrogant, define the moment. If you were wrong, she wasn’t afraid to stand up for what was right. An advocate, a campaigner for justice, a cheerleader for the underdog. I am and will always be tremendously proud of her for that. Purposeful in defending, intentional if confronting, diligent when supporting, that was Bridgett also.
Joyful: If her picture was to be in the dictionary under purposeful, you might also find it in the book of Joel, next to the verse about being joyful…”but be joyful and glad because of all the Lord has done for you.” Joel 2:21…Joyful, yes, she was; her joy came from the Lord. How else could someone be so happy? So alive. So full of life. Ready to laugh, giggle, bust a gut, roll on the floor, hoot, snort, snicker, cackle. Joy. Pure unadulterated joy. If ever there was someone to help brighten your day, it was Bridgett. If you needed cheering up, she was there. You needed someone to lighten the moment, she could do it. Quick witted, light hearted. The joy of her Lord radiated in her smile, making her a light for all to see…What was it about her that made her special? That smile. It showed her countenance. Her love of life, her love for the Lord… her desire to make everyone around her happy. Joyful. That, too, was Bridgett.
Now we are left to ponder for ourselves...how do we make the world a little brighter, a little better without her? I guess it all comes down to what we talked about in the hospital at her “going home” party…It’s up to us now…She carried the load for us while she was here. She taught us what to do, just by doing it…We now know what to do. It’s just that we aren’t as good at doing it, at being so intentional, so relational, so joyful. Her life taught us many, many things, but mostly, it taught us how. She witnessed how we are to live, if we’re gonna live for Jesus. Without her here to witness that---if the world is to know her hope, her light, her joy---it is now gonna be up to us…to become more relational, more intentional, more joyful. Her legacy now challenges us to do it, be it, live it. It’s time to get to it.



THE FEAST...  

It was a celebration....Her 19th birthday. And Dan wanted to make it something special. He wanted to make her dinner. A perfect dinner. He had already taken the advice he received via email from BF (Bridgett’s name for “Best Friend" a.k.a. Ventia) and made deliberate efforts to purchase the ‘perfect’ gift. Recalling the night, Dan’s mom said he raced all over that day, from Maple Grove to St Cloud, just to find the all right stuff. He finished his quest for that perfect night, by going from one florist to purchase the red roses, to another, in order to find just the rose petals. He picked out the menu, made the frozen luminaries to light the way, sprinkled the petals. What a hopeless romantic. But then, so was she. Dan’s mom warned him not to go overboard to make everything so perfect that it would be hard to top next year. He said he just had to. He wanted it to be a perfect night for her. The meal was chicken alfredo (her favorite), his mom pitched  in and helped with the cooking so he could get everything else done. He had to set the table, iron his shirt, place the luminaries, position the flowers, chill the wine (it was grape juice, but it could’ve passed for the real thing!) He wanted to make everything just perfect for the love of his life. 
She arrived, dressed up, looking beautiful. Home from school, done with finals, relief etched on her face, and then… replaced with joy. Joy…at being reunited with Dan, at being home on break. Joy…at the thought that he would go through all this---just for her. Joy…at being in love. Joy…from loving life enough to live it to the fullest...She was touched. Her camera logs almost 20 pictures from the evening. It also logs the undeniable depths of her happiness.
The table was set for two. They feasted together…alone, his Mom and Dad served them and then left so they could enjoy the evening together. They did. They laughed. They dined. He gave her flowers. She opened her presents. He told her he loved her. She told him the same. Young love. It was special love. They completed each other. The pictures record that love. Their smiles mirrored it. The evening reflected it. Yep, hopeless romantics, both of them. They adored each other. They enjoyed being together. They also enjoyed fellowship with their friends. Great kids, with great faith...They loved their Lord, too...and to worship Him.  They just loved life...
But now…The table sits empty now. And the candles remain unlit. No more red roses to be dried as fresh reminders of his love. No more memories to make...Only memories to hold. And stories to be cherished.
And on a cold winter day in January, the one they would have traveled back to school on to begin spring semester, we pause…and we remember. We remember them for who they were. We remember them, each one individually…Both of them, together.
Yes, we know where they are now. We know they each knew their Lord as Savior, and because of each of those personal relationships, they’re now in heaven...Where they now feast at a marvelous meal that satisfies their hunger forever. We also know that God will provide for His children’s needs in eternity. And in heaven there will be no hunger or thirst or pain…He will wipe away the tears. 
But today, as we remember them, with sadness tugging at our hearts over their hasty departure from this world, we trust; even as we are torn apart by our sorrow, that we can take comfort in the promises of God. That He provides and protects….us, as we go on in their absence…and them…as they now sit, instead, at the table in heaven, and feast with the Lamb


On a Sunday Afternoon  


Bridgett loved Sundays…They commanded special attention. Sundays were for family time. They were made to rest. See your friends. Time to catch up. Time to be…just be. She understood the purpose for Sundays. Even at a young age. She knew they were meant to be special…for worship, for praise, for Him… And she loved dressing up for church. Going to church meant looking your best for God. No jeans, no lax attitudes, no dreading getting up and “having to go to church” like her siblings and her peers sometimes did…No, come Sunday morning, inevitably she was the first one ready. Dressed up. Hair done  right. Make up on. Looking good.                                      
She also had a burden for her church. She desired it to be more merciful. More sincere. More of Him. So she prayed for the church, and for her friends, her family and for those who didn’t know yet. She hurt when unhealthy things happened in the church, in her peer group, in her life. She wanted to be a witness, for Him, to the world. She wanted others to know, really know, what life was really all about. She lived out the song, “And they’ll know we are Christians by our…” Being one was serious stuff. It meant being real. Being vulnerable. Being filled with joy, in spite of the ups and downs of life. It meant living with integrity. It meant living your life in such a way that people would know there was something different about you.                                               
And so going to church was pretty serious stuff. You could learn stuff there. Your heart could grow, your love for others deepen. But you just didn’t show up….you grew up. You invested in Him and in turn, you knew He was investing in you. She could feel it. She learned you could be strong through Him especially when you felt weak. You could walk in victory and with joy, even when you were sad and you were struggling. Going to church was paramount. You got to worship your God. After all, He was the creator of all the universe. Not to mention that He died for you. So she figured, He showed up, regardless…the least she could do is dress up. In respect. In appreciation. Out of love for her Jesus. Yeah, it was the least she could do…It also didn’t hurt that Dan was there, and well…it was nice, to look good for him too!!            
And so every Sunday, whether in a dress, a skirt, or a pair of dress pants, with hair straightened, or in the proverbial up-do. It was done nice…to look nice. Church was special. It was about fellowship with friends who believed and understood what you did. It was safe. It was special. It was holy. So faithfully, every Sunday she went. On the occasional Sunday when we didn’t, she went by herself. And in between Sundays, she went to youth group there. Or she went to serve there. Or she went to work there; but where ever she was, she just worshipped, in and  through her works. You see, her worship was more than a song...It lasted all week long...And when Sunday came round again, there was renewed excitement all over…imagine a teenager excited to go to church on Sunday! Imagine a kid excited to go worship. But that was Bridgett...
So on one last Sunday, in one heartwrenching moment...her heart stopped beating within her own body and went on to give life to another…and on one final Sunday when her life here ended…it was on that same Sunday that she went on to worship…only now In the presence of her King. How appropriate that on a Sunday she would come face to face with the Jesus she loved…only now it would be Sunday forever.  Yes...Bridgett loved Sundays…and she loved to worship…No wonder He took her home on a Sunday. No wonder going to church seems kind of lonely right now…but truly, we know…Sunday is coming…


What was it about her that...  
As we near almost two months now since the accident it seems that the grip of grief is loosening. That the fog we have been surrounded in mentally, physically and emotionally is starting to lift and we are beginning to process Bridgett and Dan's lives. The impact they made, the legacy they leave behind.
As Bridgett's mom, I want to say to all who come to visit this site in memory of Bridgett, that though we miss her greatly, we do not want her to be memorialized as a perfect person, child or friend. We know she wasn't perfect. And so we want to be careful  not to glorify her because we know she had those moments like we all do...Times where she was not selfless, those times when she got caught up in the moment and made choices that were not God honoring. She got impatient (especially with her mother!) and crabby with any one of us who was in her life. And then there was her independence and that attitude! (I chuckle now as I remember her 'attitude' when she was a child!)
No, Bridgett was far from perfect, we all know none of us are...we all fall short, scripture tells us so.  But I think the thing we can take away from her legacy is how she strived to live a life that was God honoring. In her memory, that is something we can all strive to do. Not to become more like Bridgett, but to become more like her faithful friend Jesus. He was and is the only person who ever lived who was perfect.  He knew Bridgett's shortcomings and He loved her anyway. I know He knows all of mine, and yet He loves me in spite of myself!
Yes, Bridgett was a wonderful person who loved and lived life to the fullest. But when she messed up she knew she was able to go to her Savior and be forgiven. In knowing that He loved her, knowing that He died for her, she was able to lay down her pridefulness and any wrong doing. I think that was how she was able to get back up and go again without limitation, every single day. Because she accepted and lived in His grace. And that was the reason for her joy.  Even when she became cross or made poor choices, she knew she could lay it down, be forgiven, choose to accept the grace that was waiting for her, then get back up and go forward. There is a lesson in that for all of us. Not to try to be perfect, or think of Bridgett as perfect, but to think about the grace that is given to us when we're not perfect. All we need to do is know Him and then reach out and accept the grace He gives us.
As the fog begins to lift and we can look more clearly at the life of Bridgett, we can see that the sunshine that fell down upon her and gave her that radiance, wasn't because she was perfect, it was that she knew she wasn't, and so she chose to live in His grace.

Found written in her Bible  
The following was written on a sheet of paper and found inside her Bible. It's about friendship, I believe she wrote it. As I've come to understand, she often wrote about things she regarded as precious. I believe Bridgett strived to be the very best friend she could be to as many people as possible. Including myself. I know I miss her friendship...

Friends are always remembering the important things. Friends understand when no one else does. Friends are buddies who always stay close despite time and place. Friends also give each other space and time if needed. Friends know the meaning of smiles, laughter and tears. Friends are special treasures who stand by you always through thick and thin. I'm blessed to say that you're my friend. Thank you for all that you've done and are going to do...God Bless you my friend.




Bridgett's Legacy  
When I think of Bridgett's legacy I'm reminded about her compassion for others as well as her passion for life and learning. And how she was able to lighten the day with her humor and wit. Mainly though, I see her legacy being about the way she took time for people...to care for them in the little things as well as the big things...And how she served others.
---She definitely had a servant's heart.
I think that was the biggest part of her legacy...
In the following stories and in the days ahead, as we reminiscence about her life---funny stories, favorite memories, or fond moments, we will, together, be able to gain more insight into the Bridgett we loved...That which was important to her and what it was that made her the Bridge, Bridgie, Bridgett, Ett, Stoll or Brigitta---or whatever your favorite name for her was---that we knew and loved. All those things which are shared will, inevitably, become a part of her legacy as well...

RED RED ROSE  

As I was going through some of the papers found on the floor Bridgett's room the week after the funeral, I found a book of her writings, bound in purple, written for 8th grade English. Why something she had written in 8th grade was out still perplexes me...I concluded she must have been reading it lately, for it to have been out and on the floor. There were many wonderful stories and writings in it, but the one that was most gripping was the following. It caught my attention, because of the name. I knew the red rose was significant to Bridgett. And anything entitled with it's name was probably, likewise, very important. As you read the story, you will see it's significance in not just the name, but how it amazingly parallels the end of Bridgett's life.

Brenda and Maggie were sisters and best friends for life. Everywhere one went, the other was right behind. Not only did they like hanging out together, but their parents never wanted them to go out alone. One night Maggie met a guy and asked Brenda to cover for her and lie to their parents. Brenda said yes she would and Maggie hugged her and said goodbye. That was the last time Brenda ever saw sister alive.
It was past the girls' curfew and Maggie still wasn't home. Brenda sat up in bed alarmed her sister still hadn't returned. She knew something was wrong, but didn't know what. Brenda sat up the rest of the night hoping her sister would return home, but she never came back. Around 8:00 the next morning, Brenda told her parents, who in turn called the police. Just as her mom was hanging up the phone, there was a knock at the door.
Brenda opened it hoping to find Maggie telling her she had forgotten her key. But instead, a man in a uniform had come to inform them that Maggie had been in a car accident and was in the hopsital in a coma. They all got dressed and drove to the hospital in silence. When they got there, they found Maggie laying lifeless in her hospital bed. She had tubes connected to her all over and IV's running from her  hand to where the stand where the fluid was held. Brenda shuttered at the sight of seeing her sister like that. At that moment the doctor came in and asked to speak with her parents. Once her parents left Brenda sat down by her sister's bedside and grabbed her hand and squeezed it hard.
"You were suppose to be home at 11:45, when you didn't show up I had no choice but to tell Mom and Dad," Brenda whispered in her sister's ear. A single tear rolled down Brenda's cheek as her parent's re-entered the room. The tears in her mother's eyes quickly told Brenda that her sister was going to die. Instantly the three of them fell into each other arms and cried. That afternoon the doctor asked if they had made a decision to donate Maggie's organs. Brenda's parents looked at her as if she got to make the decision and with a hurt look on her face Brenda said they would donate her organs. With that, Brenda and her parents left the hopsital arm in arm.
The funeral was beautiful and many people came out to say good bye. After everyone had left Brenda went to her sister's room and found a single red rose sitting on her sister's desk. She looked at the flower that was just beginning to open up and read the card attached to it. "To my sister who I will always care about. I'll always be there for you, watching from a distance." At the bottom it was signed "Magg" with a smiley face right next to it. With tears in her eyes Brenda took the rose and returned to her own room. She never told anyone about the flower that was sitting on her sister's desk. Brenda never knew how it got there. All she knew was that it was there to give her hope and the strength to go on with life.
Brenda eventually grew up to become a counselor, dedicated to helping those who had lost a family member. She went on to get married and had a little girl whom she named Maggie Elizabeth.


The first time I read this, I got chills down my spine.  Bridgett's nickname for me was Meggie. And she was my Bridgie. I often wish it had been the other way around. That it was me who was in the accident that day and not her. Maggie dies, not Brenda. Thats been tough to deal with. But it is comforting to know that what she wrote about, in that card that Brenda found in Maggie's room, is what Bridgett left for me and us all to be comforted by. "To my sister who I will always care about. I'll always be there for you, watching from a distance."
I know that Bridgett is here with me, because I carry her with me each day in my heart. She is dearly missed in my family, and I am only lucky that she was here with me for almost 20 years. I know I was the big sister, but Bridgett was always the one taking care of me. It's been a rough storm so far, but I know that God will see us all through. I wish it had been the other way around Bridgie because I love you and I miss you so very much.
Love Your Big Sister~
Meggie



Lost Love  

The following, which she entitled, "Lost Love" was written in Bridgett's  journal while she was away at college. We believe it was written sometime during her freshman year. It is a conversation between two people. We were moved by it's profound depth and beauty
and wanted to share it with you...


"You felt that love was snatched away,
that I left too soon."
"You did leave too soon."
"There was a reason to it all."
"What reason? You died. You were the best person any of us knew and you died. You lost everything---I lost everything."
"No you didn't. I was and still am right here.
Lost love is still love.
It takes a different form, that's all...You can't see  their smile, or touch them or move around to dance with them. But when those senses weaken, another heightens. Memory.
Memory becomes your partner.
You nurture it.
You hold it. You dance with it.
Life has to end...but love...Love doesn't."


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