Thank You, Brooke

If you haven’t been following my Twitter feed, you might not have known that for the past nine months, I’ve been waiting to be a Tita Noelle to my niece, Brooke Gabrielle Manahan. (Well, I’m her godmother, so it’s Ninangย Noelle.)

From the first day my sister voiced her thought that her period was late I told her that she was pregnant. When it was confirmed with a pregnancy test and ultrasound, our excitement knew no bounds.

Michael and Marielleย decided to name their daughter Brooke after the New Zealand singer Brooke Fraser. Apart from her professional solo recording career as a folk/pop singer, Ms. Fraser is also a singer and songwriter for the worship group Hillsong.

Shadowfeet by Brooke Fraser

Our journey with little Brooke had its ups and downs, especially when we were told on her fifth month that the ultrasound had detected some congenital anomalies. We have a wonderful spiritual family at Victory Ortigas who came together with us and prayed with us throughout the next four months, helping strengthen our faith in God. An ultrasound at six months showed that Brooke was normal and we would have a healthy baby girl with us in three months’ time.

Last Thursday my sister and brother-in-law went for her weekly checkup; it’s S.O.P. that women at nine months’ pregnancy have to see their OB that regularly. When her OB (who is also our aunt) saw that she was already in early labor, Marielle was immediately scheduled for emergency caesarian section due to her pregnancy-induced high blood pressure, also known as pre-eclampsia. On February 2, 2012, my niece Brooke was born.

Baby Brooke wasn’t breathing when she was delivered, so the doctors attempted to resuscitate her, finally hooking her up to a respirator at the Newborn ICU. Still, it was clear to us that she wouldn’t live long. I thought she wouldn’t last the night. Then the first miracle happened: in the early hours of Friday morning, Brooke was taken off the respirator and started breathing on her own!

Marielle, after her CS, got up and walked earlier than we thought she would because of her desire to see her child. So despite the pain and discomfort, we all were able to go see Brooke and even dedicate her to the LORD. It was here that another miracle happened: Brooke turned her head toward her parents as she heard them speak to her. A one-day-old infant is not able to determine the location of sounds, so that was wonderful that she was able to acknowledge their presence. And as Michael and Marielle reached out to hold her in their arms, Brooke cried for the first time.

Since Brooke remained stable the rest of Friday until the evening, I went home to rest and to take care of some errands. I finished them quickly on Saturday and headed back to the hospital. Unfortunately, I went via Aurora Boulevard, which is where the Bourne Legacy was filming that day. While I was stuck in that traffic jam, I received news that Brooke had died.

It was hard being just a few kilometers away and missing seeing Brooke one last time. I was mad at myself because I had an opportunity to take another route, but didn’t. I was mad at the Bourne Legacy crew for screwing up traffic. I was mad at the MMDA for allowing use of Aurora Boulevard when they knew there were few alternate roads.

And then I got to the hospital where I found Brooke breathing and alive in her mother’s arms. Another miracle: she had been pronounced dead, but her heart and her breathing spontaneously began again.

She was touch-and-go, but every time Michael and Marielle held her, she rallied. God gave us 12 more hours with Brooke, allowing my grandparents time to fly in, to see her and hold her. And when we had all accepted that Brooke’s time was near, that’s when she went.

For three glorious days, I was Tita and Ninang Noelle to the bravest, strongest little girl I know. Although we’re sad now, I’ll see her again in Heaven.

Yesterday we held a memorial service in her memory, and during the worship time we had, we sang “Desert Song” by Hillsong (lead vocals by Brooke Fraser and Jill McLoghry). I wanted to put the song up here because it spoke to me so clearly:

This is my prayer in the desert
When all that’s within me feels dry
This is my prayer in my hunger and need
My God is the God who provides

This is my prayer in the fire
In weakness or trial or pain
There is a faith proved
Of more worth than gold
So refine me Lord through the flame

I will bring praise
I will bring praise
No weapon formed against me shall remain
I will rejoice
I will declare
God is my victory and He is here

When I did my research on “Desert Song”, I found that the singer, Jill, had lost her son Max a few weeks before she had to record the song. She went into premature labor and gave birth to him at 23 weeks old. They had only a full day with him before he went home to the LORD. Her response was to choose to worship God despite her sorrow and grief.

Desert Song testimony

Thank you, Brooke Gabrielle Manahan. God used you mightily in touching so many people’s lives. And now I know that despite any circumstance, I can still worship God and praise Him.

This is my prayer in the harvest
When favour and providence flow
I know I’m filled to be emptied again
The seed I’ve received I will sow

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30 thoughts on “Thank You, Brooke

  • February 10, 2012 at 3:47 am
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    This is so sad Noelle. ๐Ÿ™

    But Brooke is now in Heaven with the creator. And indeed, it was a privilege that your whole family has witnessed God’s miracle. And thanks for sharing your story…
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    • February 10, 2012 at 3:53 am
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      Thanks Badet. ๐Ÿ™‚

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  • February 10, 2012 at 4:28 am
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    Rest in peace, dear Brooke. my heart goes out to you and your family, Noelle ๐Ÿ™‚

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    • February 10, 2012 at 5:00 am
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      Thank you Kate.

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  • February 10, 2012 at 4:41 am
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    My condolences, Noelle. If you can, please send my condolences to Marielle and Mike as well. Life here is so delicate so God promises us an eternal one with Him. May this season of mourning open up deeper realities and sensitivities in your heart. Our God who loves mourns with us as well…

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    • February 10, 2012 at 6:11 am
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      Thanks Misha. That promise from God is what we all can hold onto ๐Ÿ™‚

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  • February 10, 2012 at 5:13 am
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    You and your family are people of such strong faith! I remember that time after the 5th month checkup: Mike told us about the news about the congenital anomalies, and then proceeded to lead worship about how God is good all the time, and that nothing is impossible.

    Thank you so much for sharing Brooke’s story. Even in that short time, she is such a blessing to all of us!
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    • February 10, 2012 at 6:12 am
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      Worship has a way of edifying the soul ๐Ÿ™‚

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  • February 10, 2012 at 5:27 am
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    Noelle, ang galing mong sumulat. Bawat salita naiiyak ako. Inaantabyanan ko rin ang pagdating ni Brooke. Kahit sa mga litrato lang sa facebook ninyo alam ko kung gaano kayo ka excited. Salamat Noelle sa pagbahagi ng buhay ninyong pamilya. Marami akong natutunang tanggapin dahil sa pinamalas na tapang ni Brooke.

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    • February 10, 2012 at 6:09 am
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      Thanks Michelle. It was an honor to know Brooke even for that short a time. ๐Ÿ™‚

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  • February 10, 2012 at 5:42 am
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    thank you for sharing this, Noelle. so very sad, but so full of hope, miracles, and yes, even joy amidst what must be gut-wrenching pain. praise Him, our always faithful, always good God. i look forward to meeting Brooke some day ๐Ÿ™‚ our deepest sympathies, Noelle, to your family, and especially to your sister, Marielle, and her husband, Michael.

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    • February 10, 2012 at 6:10 am
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      Thank you Tita Maricel. I know we can glorify God even in this situation, and I knew this to be one way of doing so. ๐Ÿ™‚

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  • February 10, 2012 at 6:23 am
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    Hi Noelle, I got here from Chelli’s tweet. Do you remember me? We were LJ friends.
    Sorry to hear about your niece. I hope you & your family stay strong.

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    • February 10, 2012 at 4:21 pm
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      Of course I remember! Thank you <3

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  • February 10, 2012 at 8:00 am
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    Thanks for posting your thoughts Noelle.
    Mike was my officemate at Dell and I know how he loves Marielle and baby Brooke. Reading your thoughts as well as your family’s blog touches me but it’s good to know that inspite of everything, your family chose to seek God in the midst of pain and uncertainty.. Trully, Brooke’s presence became an avenue to glorify God.
    Do send my regards to Mike and Marielle. God Bless! =)

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    • February 10, 2012 at 4:22 pm
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      This is Brooke’s legacy. ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks, Apple.

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    • February 10, 2012 at 4:22 pm
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      God bless you, too ๐Ÿ™‚

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  • February 10, 2012 at 11:47 am
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    oh noelle, first i miss your dancing because i have moved to ‘morning flow’.. secondly am so touched by your story. I never knew you write so well.. just like dancing and life, we go with the flow of the music in our hearts. Your little ‘inaanak’ has moved lives for a couple of hours but you moved hers a lifetime.

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    • February 10, 2012 at 4:22 pm
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      Thank you ๐Ÿ™‚

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    • February 10, 2012 at 4:23 pm
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      HUG!

      Reply
  • February 11, 2012 at 3:48 am
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    I will never forget Brooke and how the Lord used her to sanctify us (Prayer Group). Through Brooke, the Lord taught us to worship Him, obey Him, trust in Him and accept His peace which surpasses all understanding. So, thank you, too, Brooke. Ninang Iris, Ninong Nuel, and your friend and big sister, Hannah Isabella, loves you, too. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Reply
  • February 11, 2012 at 5:50 am
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    I cried buckets reading this. I admire the kind of strength and faith that Marielle, her husband, and the rest of your family have shown. What a testimony! The Lord is so alive in your lives! Brooke’s life has caused many people to praise God. May God continue to embrace you and comfort you during this time.

    Reply
  • February 11, 2012 at 6:53 am
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    Ate Noelle, condolence for little Brooke.
    Ate Marielle, and sa husband niya, stay strong and faithful!
    And to everyone, to the DeGuzmans and Manahans, my Condolence.

    Little Brooke – There is so much your mom and dad wants to tell you, and they want to pass on to you…but the time you were with them, its filled with love…, so watch them from where you are now…and whisper to God “Those are my parents…protect them always.” <3

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  • February 11, 2012 at 11:04 am
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    Condolences to Mike and Marielle. God is not finished yet, He is faithful to all His kids. God bless your family.

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  • June 4, 2012 at 11:09 pm
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    Noelle,

    I didn’t know until Julia sent me this link. I’m really sorry to hear. And I am in awe on how God is sustaining your whole family (and how you guys responded is a miracle in itself).

    I love you all so much and would have liked nothing but to be there with your whole family when this happened.

    I praise God that the healing has started and looking forward to the delightful surprises God will reveal in the next few months.

    Please send my love to my Dear Mae(Mariele)…
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