I’m having difficulty processing the fact that we lost Ami one year ago today. It seems like it’s impossible that a year has already passed.
I had the honor of speaking at Ami’s funeral last year and I have been given permission to share with you what I wrote on this platform. It’s been a while since I have written in my blog, but today was a day when I needed to write a little piece of my heart. I hope you enjoy learning a little more about my dearest Ami.
Ami Paige Whitlow-Brown
Hello. It’s hard to believe that we are here today to celebrate the life of our sweet Ami. Ami was a friend to many and she was loved by everyone who ever had the chance to meet her. My name is Halley and I met Ami our freshman year in college when we had three classes together back to back. Ami had just moved to Tulsa from Weatherford, Ok and we became instant friends and we have maintained that friendship for over 23 years. I say that I am one of Ami’s best friends because Ami has a lot of best friends who are in this room today. I mean, not just acquaintances, but true, genuine, intentional best friends. Ami was the type of person who maintained close, dear friendships with friends even if they lived half way around the world.
On Sunday I had the opportunity to spend time with Renee, Sara, Jennifer, Amanda, and Tiff and we were able to share about Ami and all of the wonderful memories that we each made with her over the years. Renee and Sara grew up with Ami in Weatherford, Ok and went to kindergarten with Ami. Tiff met Ami our freshman year of college on the first day of class. Amanda met Ami while working at Zio’s Italian Kitchen. Jennifer met Ami working at Jenks Freshman Academy where she worked as a special education teacher. We were all one of Ami’s best friends yet we had all never been in the same room together until Sunday afternoon. To me that speaks volumes about Ami and how her love and friendship crossed over to everyone she knew. I know that there are many other friends who would have also been present in that room if they had been in town like Lacy, Jennifer, Chance, and the list could go on and on.
While I was planning and thinking about how I was going to be able to stand up here and talk about Ami today, I was overcome with emotion wondering if I would be able to even write words without crying much less stand here and speak the words. I did not want to stand up here and simply share my stories and love for Ami. I felt like it was very important to share everyone’s stories and love for Ami. I also felt that it was important to talk about who Ami was as a person and how I hope that we can each take a piece of Ami with us today because I know that we will all be better people for it.
I asked some of the girls on Sunday to give me one word they would use to describe Ami and why they chose that word. Well, not one person could give just one word to describe Ami because she was dynamic and amazing and it takes many words to encompass who she was to all of us. I would like to share some of the words they used and the stories they shared.
Trusting, Creative, and Resourceful
First week I met Ami she invited me to hang out at her dad’s house. I’m just sitting in her room when she brings me a pair of scissors and asks me to cut her hair. Only known her a week and she is already convinced I’m trustworthy enough to cut her hair. Never once at all concerned I might screw it up and give her a mullet. Trusting.
I would also say creative and resourceful. Like Macgyver type creative. Once we were driving to Weatherford in her old black Pontiac grand am. (Buddy was his name) Just saying that statement reminds me of how stupid we used to act. It’s a wonder we didn’t end up on the side of the road in a fiery heap! The headliner was stuck up with opened safety pins! She had discovered that when the radio went out if she reached her leg across the console and kicked it with her heel real hard it would come back on. God only knows how she made this discovery….but as the passenger it was my job to kick the console as we flew down the road at 70 miles an hour!
I can attest to riding in Ami’s car and watching her kick her leg around to turn on the radio. I was looking at this petite, sweet girl, with long hair, and a stars and stripes sweater vest lift her leg up to kick her car to turn on the radio. It was as a moment I will never forget and I have laughed about that moment a lot over the years.
Consistent and Honest to a Fault
Consistent means unchanging in a behavior over a period of time. If you knew Ami well you knew that she would always first think of her kids and then family and friends. And if you were friends with Ami, she considered you family. She may have been scattered at times, but she always knew who to put first and what was most important to her and that was her children, family and friends. Her love, her beauty, her wit, and her kindness were all consistent- unchanging in the very best definition of the word.
Jennifer met Ami for the first time when Ami came in to interview for a teaching position at Jenks. Jennifer said that she and the principal of the school at the time were interviewing her for the new history teaching position and in walks Ami. Apparently the interview was going well except for the fact that Ami was so nervous she started scratching everything off the table in the conference room. In the middle of the interview Ami blurted out, “I just found out two weeks ago I’m pregnant so you probably don’t want to hire me now but I really want to work at Jenks because I’ve always wanted to but it’s ok if you don’t hire me”. Then when they asked Ami if she had any questions, she pulled out a long list about insurance, time off, transfers for her kids, etc. Ami got the job and they knew right at that moment that she was the perfect fit. Ami loved working as a special education teacher at Jenks Public Schools and she loved and cherished everyone of her coworkers and her students.
Faithful, devoted, loyal, true, trusted friend
Ami was faithful and devoted mom, friend, wife, sister, daughter, and teacher.
She was faithful in her belief and trust in our Heavenly Father.
She had complete and total faith that God had a plan for her and she walked her path with her head held high, her heart full of faith and grace, with a smile on her face. Believing and knowing she was loved by our Great Father.
Ami was a dedicated runner. She never missed an early morning group run or race.
Her running medals show her dedication to running, her running friends, and her own passions in life.
Ami was true to her word. If she made a promise; she never broke it.
She was reliable and trustworthy confidant.
Ami and Renee were best friends for 32 years and that friendship never wavered or paused.
Ami had an innate ability to bring people together through love, laughter and circumstance.
She was loved in many separate circles. From her Weatherford friends to her running friends. From her Jenks family to people that had never even met Ami but felt connected to her and her story of fighting cancer. She left an impression on each person that was lucky enough to have been a part of her beautiful life.
Ami was funny. She was quick witted. She was a ferocious competitor and yes, she could snap at you if she didn’t agree with you. But she was a loyal, devoted friend who would do anything for anyone she could. She was clumsy. She bit her lip. She worried about others. She put others before herself. For each one of us lucky enough to be a part of her world, we will forever be changed by her butterfly effect.
My words for Ami are brave, courageous, fighter. She persevered through every trial and tribulation she encountered in her life. She worked hard in school. She worked hard to become a teacher. She overcame fears throughout her life to become all that she was meant to be. She inspired me to be a better person. She loved running and she persevered to run long distances and she loved it. She persevered and ran the longest marathon of her life the past three years. She never complained despite having to endure the pain that goes along with that type of fight. Her biggest hurt was not the physical pain but it was not being able to be close to her kids while she was away at MDAnderson. She is a true example of what it means to persevere, fight, and overcome.
I’m so proud of Ami and I am forever proud that I got to be one of her best friends. She truly changed my life for the better and I’m thankful for the many years that I had with her. We went to college together, waited tables together at Zio’s Italian Kitchen, and we both worked as Special Education Teachers at Jenks Public Schools. We literally grew up our entire adult life together. I was there for the birth of her three children and she was there the day I walked down the aisle. We have been through a lot of life together and I will never forget the memories that we made. She was family to me.
Ami lived her life showing kindness, grace, and compassion towards others and I know that I will spend the rest of my life trying to be a better person because of my friend. Ami believed in the power of prayer and she loved her Heavenly Father with all of her heart. She would always call me and ask me to pray for her, write an update to pray for her, or to find scriptures for her to speak life and truth into her spirit throughout her sickness. I will miss those calls. I know that we will get to see Ami again in Heaven one day. I know that we will all be greeted with her sweet, contagious smile that we will all miss so dearly.
I would like to share with you a few things that we all discussed that we know Ami loved:
Her heavenly Father
Her dog Walley (who was named after a trip we took to Walmart)
Going to the beach
Pawnee Bill and the Pawnee Bill House Tour
Anne Rice Vampire Books
Actually, anything about Vampires
Actually, I think she wanted to be a Jackson.
She loved concerts
Lipstick – she always reapplied her lipstick
Little Debbie Zebra Cakes
And above all else, her children, Whit, Chandler and Beckett
Ami loved attending their sporting events
Taking them to big splash in the summer
Celebrating and planning their birthday parties
Watching movies with them
Whit, Chandler, and Beckett, your mom loved you with all of her heart and soul. She left a beautiful legacy that will forever live through you.
I’ll finish with a poem by David Romano titled, When Tomorrow Starts Without Me a Letter from Heaven.
A Letter From Heaven
When tomorrow starts without me
And I’m not here to see
If the sun should rise and find your eyes
All filled with tears for me
I wish you wouldn’t cry
The Way you did today
While thinking of the many things
We did not get to say
I know how much you love me
As much as I love you
Each time that you think of me
I know you will miss me too
When Tomorrow starts without me
Do not think we’re apart
For every time you think of me
Remember I’m right here in your heart