Some time ago I was blessed to come to know a young woman with a deep faith and a beautiful smile. We shared a common diagnosis in a support group and did our best to encourage one another. She was wise beyond her years and her compassion has lasted beyond her time on earth. Her legacy lives on through family and friends and those they encounter. This letter is from Tricia, her mom.

Dear Chelsea, Gosh where do I begin?

You were our “oops” baby, LOL! After 7 years of having a family of four, we thought our family was complete. God had a different plan though because, little did we know, it was far from complete.

You came into our lives 5 weeks early, which scared us to death, but everything turned out fine, you were just in a hurry to meet your new family. You brought love and laughter into our lives that we didn’t even know was missing! Oh I’m sure if you asked CJ and Josh at the time, they probably would have said a dog was a better idea. LOL! You very quickly wormed your way into their hearts though, and they didn’t know what hit them.

As the years went on, you grew up to be the little sister that followed them around and never gave them a moment to themselves, but they never complained. We soon started doing more things together and enjoying each other’s company, you brought “family” time back into our lives. As you started middle school, you found the true meaning of “mean” girls, but you still tried to stay positive and continued on.

You loved baking as you got older and soon found that was the best way for you to release all the heartache/drama you were dealing with in school. Dad loved baking/cooking with you. Thank you for doing that with him, you gave him memories he’ll hold onto forever.

High school and college weren’t much different. You always struggled to fit in, I hated watching you go through that. When you started showing signs of depression/anxiety we thought the best thing to do was talk to my doctor and start a medication that could help. CJ and I were already successfully taking meds for this. They worked for awhile. You had the biggest heart and were so strong and brave, I thought there was nothing you couldn’t get through.

Then you found Jesus, and your love for Him was contagious! Going to Christian concerts with you was so much fun. I thank God I have those memories. As time went on though, life got harder and harder for you. I knew you struggled and at times had panic attacks. I tried hard to get you through them, but often felt lost in how to help. I think when you gained so much weight, you couldn’t see the true beauty you had in you.

I’m sorry that you hurt so much, I wish there was more I could’ve done for you. I’ll always wonder if I did all I could to help. I love you and I know deep down that leaving us isn’t what you really wanted, you were just so tired. Please know we understand.

I hope I’ve made you proud with the Facebook page I started in your honor. Thank you for all the journal entries and snapshots of inspirational quotes you left me to put in it. Thanks to you “Finding HOPE Through Chelsea” will inspire and save lives! Thank you for being in our lives for as long as God allowed.

Walk those streets of gold, play cards, bake, do all the things you love! I can’t wait to see you again one day! I loved you first and I’ll love you forever, Mom XOXO