Meet the Team: Britni


A Friendship and a New Beginning

The long-time but oblivious friend. We all have to own who we are, and that has been a hard pill for me to swallow this year.

Jen and Britni, 2003

Jen and Britni, 2003

I have known Jen for fifteen years. We met when I was a young, naïve, fuzzy-headed blonde who was outrageously outgoing and positive. Jen had this mischievous sparkle in her eye that immediately drew me in. We were separated in age by seven years, but that was merely a number to us. Jen was getting married and starting a family as I was graduating high school. I was dealing with family trenches and my own deep trench of depression—including a suicide attempt after a dear friend killed herself. The night I was admitted into the hospital, out of my mind in every way possible, Jen was my lighthouse. She provided a light for me when I could not see through the muck of life. She held me up when I no longer had the strength to stand. Jen’s soothing voice of support and acceptance of my sorrow when everyone else expected me to be happy all the time—in all honesty, it saved me.

With full support from Jen, I moved to Arizona, where I wanted to start over and get away from this person I had become, living in sadness. The new beginning was helpful—I knew no one, and no one had to know my story if I didn't want them to. I made good choices and some pretty poor choices: getting married, new and stressful jobs, financial trouble, an affair, and later a painful divorce.

Jen and I had monthly chats to catch up on life. Those phone calls offered a guaranteed 60 minutes when she got a break from her life and the hurt from the loss of Eli, and I got some relief from mine. The both of us narrating our lives in this comedic fashion didn’t change the awfulness of our separate situations, but for those sixty minutes, we couldn't breathe because we were laughing so hard—and not because the walls of our lives were closing in.

The Journey to Stories from the Trenches

On March 1, 2016, I sent a text message from my doctor's office, telling my long-time, long-distance friend that we had lost our 100% healthy and loved-beyond-measure baby boy at 36 weeks. Heartbeat gone, he passed during the start of our labor process. Jen was the first friend who came to my mind. We now had more in common than ever. She called me immediately to say . . . nothing. She was just on the phone with me as I cried.

I never understood the depth of her loss until that moment. Yup, I’m that friend—the really shitty, oblivious one. The one who had no clue to the magnitude of her loss until my own.  

I guess it’s true what they say: you don’t know what it is like until it’s happened to you. Over the next months, Jen poured her love into me, as she has so many times before. She strapped on her boots and got in my trench, and she lived in that trench with me. Reminding me that I was strong for even getting out of bed. Reminding me that I was strong even if I didn’t.

The loss of our sons solidified our friendship. She introduced me to other amazing women who were also in this trench, women who survived—that’s hope my friend. There was also a peace in knowing her beautiful son Eli was there in heaven to show Brenden the ropes, knowing that our children high-five every time we are together in some shape or form, and knowing that yes, #deadbabiessuck.

Britni and Jen, 2016

Britni and Jen, 2016

I realized that this was Jen’s God-given mission. Eli was giving his momma an undeniable call to love. To get dirty, scream, yell, fight, cry, laugh and be silent with you. I finally fully understood this concept of Stories from the Trenches and Jen’s passion for helping women know they are not alone. We each have our own and unique stories, but to find another human being who might have a tiny idea how you feel is almost straight oxygen—you can breathe.

I’m still in the beginning of dealing with this trench. We are all in different places, and there is nothing wrong or bad about that. The most important part is that we do it together: we are not alone, no matter the trench, and most of us will have more than one. Ride or die.

You have to die a few times before you can really live.
— Charles Bukowski