Thursday, June 4, 2015

Honoring the life of my beautiful friend, Erin Faulkner Bradham

The brightness of the world dimmed a little on Monday, June 1. A dear, precious friend of mine went on to be with Jesus.. My heart feels lost, confused, and overwhelmed...emotions I have been far too familiar with within the last few months. Not only was Erin special to my husband and I, so was her family. Her brother Bryce was the best man in our wedding and Warren was the best man in his. Both of our boys are each within months of one another in age and we have many sweet memories that involve Erin's parents, Debra and David.



As I have began grieving the last couple of days, I have felt so helpless. Desperately--So desperately I want to take away the pain for Erin's family. I want to hug her just once more. I want her boys to know their beautiful Momma. I want to hear her laugh.

But. Out of all those things that I want, I can only attempt to accomplish one. You see, the only thing I can do for Erin is to honor her so that maybe some day, years ahead, her boys will read this and feel her love for them. They'll get a glimpse into her spirit, her humor, and her dreams. Honor her so that perhaps you will read this and feel her memory move you. Honor her so that her family can smile at her legacy and know that her short 26 years and 23 days were full and meaningful. That is all I can do.

Let me tell you about my friend.

I'm fearful that I won't be able to adequately do her justice and even as I type this I can see her smile. I can hear her laugh at the things that I want to share. I can feel her near and I know she'd be proud.




As I read on social media all of the memories varying individuals from so many different walks of life have shared, one description stands out to me the most. Erin is fierce.

..fiercely honest.
That girl. Honest in every sense of the word. She never feared speaking her mind. I can hear her saying, "Girl needs to do something about that hair." Though much of her honesty often brought those gut-wrenching laughs, perhaps the quality I admire the most is the honesty she had about her life. Our Erin was not perfect. She would be the first to admit it. She's seen dark times in her life. She's been broken, hopeless, weak, and confused. Erin is spicy, stubborn, and often didn't listen to the advice you gave her. I know we all, especially Deb and David, wanted to shake her on many different occasions and say, "Just listen!" She was never afraid to admit that her life's journey had seen many bumps because she knew she had and would continue to overcome. She knew that all those bumps brought purpose, direction, and light. She fought hard so that those messy times would have purpose. More importantly, she knew that those dark days continually brought her back to Jesus. She wanted others to see firsthand how sweet is the redemption of Jesus.




..fiercely passionate.
She gave her whole heart to those she loved. She was a passionate daughter and sister. Though she challenged her parents many times, she loved her Momma and Daddy. She valued their loyalty to her and their ability to love her through her hard times. She loved Bryce. The bond that they shared was one I admire because I know it was so rare. She would have went to the ends of the world him. She was protective and loyal to Bryce. More than anything, she looked up to him and the man he has become. She was a passionate friend. Regardless of who had hurt or left her, she always forgave and started new. She was passionate about her boys. For as long as I have known her, she made it known she wanted to be a Momma and when that dream came true, a whole knew level of passion burst forth. She loves those boys. As we messaged just a few short days ago, she raved about her boys. She talked of how smart Paxton had become. How he was so much like her brother. She told me of how much of a Momma's boy River was and how much she loved it. "I just want to be a mommy," she said, "It's an amazing privilege that God has given me!"


...fiercely loyal.
I always knew Erin would always be my friend. She would fight for you and with you even when others hadn't done the same for her. She looked past the brokenness and took you as your are, imperfections and all. She pushed, stretched, and made you look outside of yourself so that you could be the best version of yourself.


If you walk away with anything from Erin's life, I hope you'll see how fiercely God loves us. He chooses us despite who we are. He redeems us. He pursues us even when we can't feel or see it. He desires us. Erin embodies so many of these qualities.


I hope you'll remember to be strong. To not let the heaviness of life smother your spirit. That you will live passionately and honestly so that others can see how much Jesus has rescued you from and desire to be rescued,too. I hope you'll be loyal. That you'll be a friend to someone in their darkest hour when others are running away and that you'll love them amidst their sin. I hope you'll laugh at yourself. Even when you don't feel like laughing and that you'll share that laughter with those who need it most. I hope you choose to love. Even when hate feels so much easier and bitterness has captured your heart. Lastly, I hope you'll live passionately and freely. That you won't be overcome by the challenges of this world but, instead, choose to start new each day as Erin did.


Because that was our Erin and that's her legacy.


Sis, I love you so deeply. I always will. Thank you for being such a large part of my life. Thank you for inspiring, challenging, and helping to mold me. I'll carry you always.   -Brookie

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Wanted to end by sharing with you the love some of our other friends had for her.

Erin. Just saying her name, I can hear her laugh. Her loud, hilarious laugh. A laugh I will never hear again here on earth. When I got a phone call late Monday night from Brooke, I knew something was up. But I definitely was not expecting nor ready for the news that Erin had been in a car accident and died. She died. “What?! WHAT?!” I kept repeating, over and over again to Brooke. Neither of us had any words. We just sat there on the phone…not knowing what to say. I’m still not sure what to say. But I’ll do my best.

If you knew Erin at all, you knew how HARD she loved. She loved hard. She fought hard. She was passionate. Funny. Spontaneous. She was that friend you could call and say, “Hey, lets go to Fayetteville!”, and within 30 minutes she would have a bag packed, a full tank of gas, and at your house ready to go. She was so talented. She could sing, dance, and had an amazing art in cosmetology. I will never forget the LINE of people in O.C. Bailey waiting to get their hair cut or colored by Erin. She did incredible work.

She was always a devoted friend. Even if you hadn’t seen or talked to her in a while, you picked up with her right where you left off. Never missing a beat. She FIERCELY LOVED her family, her husband, and her baby boys. When she became a momma, I saw a whole new side to Erin. I saw her love like she’s never loved before. And those boys loved her back just as much.

Most importantly, Erin had a heart for the Lord. She knew, just like the rest of us, that none of us are perfect. We all make mistakes. We learn and we move on. She knew that because of the Hope we have in Jesus Christ, everything can be made new again. She was redeemed and forgiven. I can only imagine the celebration she is having right now. Meeting Jesus face-to-face. Getting all the answers to her questions. Catching up with loved ones she’s lost.

Erin, I can’t believe that you are no longer here on earth. My mind literally cannot entertain the though. Please know that your boys will be loved and taken care of. Know that they will grow up hearing how much their Momma loved them with everything she had. Giving up so much for them and always putting God first and them second. I will NEVER forget you. I will miss and think of you daily. I will see you again one day, my dear friend. I love you!

-Amy Burnside


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I have memories of just sitting on the floor in Erin's room talking about life and laughing constantly. I also remember the more serious conversations about past mistakes and regrets. Her faith in God's healing and forgiving power reminds me that I am loved by a perfect Creator regardless of my flaws. My favorite memory of our friendship was when I had my outdoor bridal photos done. My stepmom and sisters were out of town, and my roommate had to leave town unexpectedly leaving me without anyone to help me prepare for the shoot. Not only did Erin do my hair, she (bringing Seth along) came to the shoot and she basically became my personal assistant: fluffing my dress, fixing my hair, and even holding my dress up all the way around to keep me from even getting close to touching mud! She made what could have been a stressful disaster into a wonderful experience. That story is a perfect picture of the kind of friend she was: loyal, generous, and selfless. I will miss her so much.

--Kate Cooper

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Erin, a woman full of love, adventure, and pure fun! Her attitude towards life was carefree and truly attractive. Erin would always make you laugh and had the ability to turn any serious situation into something funny. Erin will be a friend I will never forget. You could always count on her to stay up late with you and talk life, Jesus, and the future. She adored her babies and loved her husband. Even through the hard times in life Erin always pointed back to Jesus. I always loved her random text messages, phone calls and updates. I know that Erin is rejoicing with the Angels right now because she loved to sing! My heart is heavy knowing I will not see her on earth, but I know someday in heaven I will be able to hug her neck and thank her for all the wonderful memories we shared. The last time I saw Erin was last year as she was passing through Dallas. She called me and wanted to meet up. At the time there were suppose to be several people joining us for lunch that day, but for whatever reason the others couldn’t make it. Looking back now I believe God gave me that time alone to be with just Erin knowing he had different plans for her. It was precious and sweet. I love you so much Erin. Save me a seat next to you in the choir in heaven! 

--Megan Rogers

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A word that comes to mind when I think about Erin is fervent. Whatever it was that she was feeling or doing, she did it fervently! She had such an intense passion about going after what she wanted, and she was not worried about what anyone else thought. She inspires me to live my own life with great passion and no regrets. Though I was not super close to Erin, my heart aches over her being gone. I really can't even accept that she is. I am grateful that I can find peace in knowing that she is with our Father, and that I will see her again someday!! Erin, you are loved and missed by many!!!

--Samantha DuBach



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Back in high school, I had a teacher who started off his class by having each of us write our own Obituary. Sounds a little "much" for the first day of school, right? At first all the students in the classroom, including me, were looking around wide eyed not knowing exactly what to write down in our freshly purchased notebooks. Our teacher, seeing this, told us that we should write down what we wanted people to say about us if we were able to look down from Heaven and read the written words of our loved ones left behind. What would people remember us by? What would our legacy be? It was an assignment I will never forget. When I wrote the words I wrote down- it put my thoughts in check. It made me smile at people I would normally not even glance at, it made me talk to people differently and it made me love people more passionately knowing that we are not promised tomorrow and life can change within the blink of an eye. 

I just got done reading the obituary of a dear friend of mine. Something that a 27 year old should never have to do. A friend who, selfishly I wrestle with thinking was taken too soon from this Earth. She was a mother, a wife, a friend and most importantly...a follower of Jesus. As I read the words "..she had a gift of making each person feel special and loved" I cant help but think that those couple of words truly do sum up who Erin was. She put others before herself and was a true loyal friend. She was a friend that would drop everything to come "poof" your hair before a big date you had. She was a friend who would speak truth into your life in times that you needed to hear it the most. She was a friend who loved passionately and threw her whole self into whatever she had her mind set on doing. She was a friend who would come sit on your hard dorm room floor and cry with you for hours when a boy broke your heart. She was a friend who had a laugh as loud as thunder that you could hear it through your dorm room walls late a night. She was a friend who when life gave her curve balls and mountains to climb...she persevered... taking them all head on. Erin was so many things to so many different people. 

My heart physically aches thinking that I can no longer just pick up the phone and give her a call knowing that she will answer on the first ring with a big "Well hey there friend!". Through all the emotions that I have been feeling within the past 24 hours- one thing remains the same...I know where Erin is right now. I know that even though my thoughts cant comprehend her being gone, God knew this date and isn't surprised by it at all. I know that she is in the presence of Jesus in a place that my mind can't even begin to fathom. She now knows the mysteries of Heaven and because of that I have a unexplainable peace even still while I sit here feeling the pain and confusion that death brings. 

Erin's obituary maybe have been written too soon according to my selfish feelings, but just like that assignment I was given in high school, knowing Erin has made me view the world differently. Her time here on Earth taught me how to love people fiercely and love people in their darkest moments. She was a real life example of how Jesus can truly heal and redeem ALL THINGS for His glory. She pointed everything back to Him and knew that He was all she needed in life. 

I will miss you so much Erin. Know that you will always be in my heart and I can't wait to hear your laugh again someday. 

--Bethany Toney