** Due to the increasing severity of MY ILLNESS, it has become impossible for me to continue to post on a regular basis. Unfortunately, as much as I desperately long to, I am also unable to visit each of your blogs often or reciprocate all the loving, supportive comments many of you continue to leave - even though at times it may appear as though you've arrived at some long ago, forsaken blog! With that said, I really want you to know that I miss every single one of you and that I really am still here! I'm just too sick and too weak most days to be able to sit up long enough to create a brand new post...or even read one. However, I absolutely do receive AND read every new encouraging word you leave (and, often, the old ones, again and again!) and I cherish them now more than ever! I truly appreciate your love, support, and, most importantly, your precious time spent on your knees in prayer for my family and me. It ALL means the world to me and I am truly blessed to have friends like you!
~Hugs and Sister Love, Teresa

FYI: All comments come to my email, which I can easily read on my phone. I also enjoy Facebook on my phone because I can catch up on A LOT in a very short time there. Soooo, if you're on Facebook, come 'friend' me there! {{HUGS}} **

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

GRADUATION NIGHT ~
MOON OVER YUSUFIYAH

** TISSUE ALERT **

I usually don’t do two posts in one day, especially when I didn’t feel like doing the first post to begin with. However, I HAD to share this piece I received today. It is written by a wonderful friend, a man my family and I have known for a long time. His daughter, Abbey, and our daughter, Morgan, are the same age and have been friends since elementary school. Our families have also gone to church together since that time. Bob is the Solicitor in the county where we live and has done a lot of wonderful things for our community and for our family personally. The Stokely family lost their oldest son, Mike, who was serving in Iraq in 2005. I’ll let you read the rest…..


Graduation Night - Moon over Yusufiyah

By Robert Stokely

The Stokely family sat in a football stadium on a warm Friday night just before Memorial Day 2001 to watch Mike Stokely graduate high school. He already had boot camp / basic training and a year in the National Guard under his belt and would be heading off for Advanced Individual Training at Ft. Gordon in a few weeks. His little sister, Abbey, almost nine, couldn't let go of him, even to have a photo taken with Mike and their brother, Wes. She swung on his arm adoringly - her look of love says it all.


On the morning of August 16, 2005, as my wife Retta and I sat with Wes and Abbey just after breaking the news to them of Mikes death earlier that morning, then 13 year old Abbey buried her head into my shoulder, sobbing these words: "he was supposed to chase away my first boyfriend, he was supposed to cheer at my graduation from high school, he was supposed to be an uncle to my children..." These words seared my heart, broken as it was. I shall never forget them. She lost her oldest brother that day, her "Bubs" which she called him short for his nickname, Bubba.

Tonight, May 27, 2010 at the football stadium for Northgate High School in Sharpsburg GA, Abbey Stokely graduated last with her class. She has had a rough five years that started with Mike's death in Iraq. Five months later, she and I were broad sided by a driver who ran a stop sign at 45 plus and rolled and flipped us several times, shearing her right rear passenger door away. She spent 18 months recovering from her serious neck, back, and head injury. Those two events might seem enough to cause a student to graduate last.

But more came her way for just a month or so after she was fully recovered from the wreck. She was bitten by a tick and came down with Lyme Disease. In GA and the south their is medical bias against diagnosing or even recognizing that Lyme Disease exists here and doctor after doctor refused to treat her for Lyme, saying she just needed psychological help due to her brother's death and the car wreck. She missed over half her class instruction time during her sophomore and junior years, essentially home schooling herself between extensive rest periods, migraines, sickness, dizziness, and other symptoms that doctors said was just "in her head" and not Lyme. She and her mother traveled out of state to see doctors who might treat her for Lyme and finally we found a doctor about two hours from our home in GA that started aggressive treatment for Lyme and she finally started getting better. That might be enough by itself, but especially with the continuing grief over her brother's loss and her own near death experience to cause her to be last, but more was to come.

As she ended her junior year her best friend for several years had become her first boyfriend - the one Mike was supposed to chase away. But I think he might have let this fine young man who had been so good to his sister in all of her grief, injuries and sickness stay around. A gentleman in every respect was Thomas Broadwater. A fine son and brother-in-law he might have one day made. They went to the prom together and a great night it was, but then the next day my mother / Abbey's grandmother fell seriously ill at age 81 and died a week later. Looking back, it is about the most normal thing that has happened to Abbey in these five years. Her "Nana" adored her as she adored Nana. Enough you might think. But not yet, for three weeks after burying her Nana, Abbey Stokely buried her best friend, her first boyfriend, Thomas Broadwater, who died from complications of surgery on one of his lungs.

So, you might think that was enough and it was almost too much for her to bear. Thomas was also her classmate and supposed to graduate with Abbey and 395 others tonight. This last year has not been easy to say the least. Surely, this explains why she was the last. She wanted her brother Mike to be there to cheer for her and she felt it so unfair that Thomas wasn't there to get his diploma. And that weighed heavily on her. We were tense to see if she would get through this graduation tonight, an emotional time for her to say the least.

But none of these things are why Abbey Stokely was last to graduate with her class tonight. Abbey Stokely graduated last tonight because she was the Valedictorian and by tradition the last to receive her diploma and graduate. Before rising to give her speech to send her classmates into the future, she watched with bittersweet pride as a member of Thomas Broadwater's family came forward to receive his diploma posthumously. Then, she nailed her speech in front of thousands of friends, family and strangers. Just as she finished, a downpour hit and drenched the graduates and the crowd. A mile away not a drop.



I first wondered why it rained there. But then, as I saw the rising full moon emerge from behind the clouds; The same Moon over Yusufiyah I watched night after night as Mike served in Iraq, even as I prayed for his safety and wished to feel close to him, knowing he had seen the same moon 8 hours before. It was then I wondered if it was Mike's tears of joy and pride for his sister that had just drenched us all.

The Moon over Yusufiyah was shining bright over Sharpsburg tonight.

And I was reminded again that the highest cost of Freedom is A Lifetime of Love.


SGT Michael 'Mike' James Stokely




Robert Stokely
proud dad of Abbey Stokely, Wes Stokely
and Mike Stokely KIA 16 AUG 05 near Yusufiyah Iraq
USA E 108 CAV 48th BCT GAARNG

16 comments:

Tammy said...

I can't believe an 18 year old has had to endure all of this at such a young age. It breaks my heart. Thanks for sharing Teresa!

jamie said...

This was such a great story. Thanks for sharing it.

Rhoda @ Southern Hospitality said...

Hi, sweet Teresa, thank you for coming by!

Teresha@Marlie and Me said...

such a beautiful story! I am crying my eyes out! She is like a Phoenix rising!

La Familia Garcia said...

Wow, what an amazing story!! May God use her story and her life to continue to touch others!

Life with Kaishon said...

Oh my word. What a beautiful story. I am so sorry for the families loss. I cry for them. So very sad.

Natalie at Mommy on Fire said...

Oh my word. I'm not sure I have ever read anything so moving in my entire life...That young woman is a portrait of grace and determination - someone who learned all too well about the challenges of life even before she left the safe haven of high school. This will serve her well - not to mention that she is an absolutely beautiful girl on the outside as well! Please share with this family how inspirational this story is to us all - God will absolutely use this story for nothing but good. Romans 8:28

Thank you for stopping by my blog, Teresa!! I was thrilled to hear of Abduli. We will sharpen those arrows for Christ one child at a time...

So glad to "meet" you and love your blog - I'm following!!!

F said...

Wow, what an amazing story. Congrats to Abbey and your daughter on graduating!

Crown of Beauty said...

Dearest Teresa,
I am speechless as I read these words.

Tears streaming down my face too.

Can't thank you enough for giving me the privilege of reading this story.

What a great privilege to be one of those touched by God in the reading of this account.

Thank you.

Love
Lidj

Muthering Heights said...

This is such a touching story!

- The Virgin Author! said...

This was worth the second post. Loved reading it!

Kristen said...

What a tear-jerker.

Thanks for the comment love! I'm following you too now!

Me, Myself and Pie said...

Oh my goodness, I'm a mess over here, tears flowing, wondering how so much could happen to one young girl...and how amazing it is that she got through it all. What a wonderful young woman she has become! And what a touching story.

Jackie said...

Wow, what a story. Your daughter sounds like a poised, gracious young lady who is lucky to have a mom like you.

Thanks for stopping over to visit our blog...come back again! And congratulations to you & your daughter on the culmination of a trying few years.

septembermom said...

That was an amazing story. Thank you for sharing, my friend :)

Bitsy Baby Photography said...

Oh Teresa, this made me cry! The strength of this girl is amazing and what a beautiful testimony her life is. God bless her and her family and congratulations on both her and your daughters graduation =)

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