This letter is written by Jason Vargas who is a marketing director for Chick-Fil-A in Orlando Florida. Jason was Michael’s youth pastor growing up and has become his mentor and friend. Michael refers to Jason as his older brother.
I’ve never known a celebrity before, but I think it’s fair to say that changed with you. Once you were born I had people asking me about you all the time. People who had never met you. People who had never met your mom or dad, but had heard about you. You became a big deal and people wanted to know everything they could about you. I felt honored to say I knew you. I could pull out my phone and show them selfies I had taken with you. People couldn’t get enough of hearing about you and your story. And I can’t blame them.
Although our time here with you was short, the gifts God gave you were constantly on display. I would often tell your dad that I thought moments with you felt sacred. One of my favorites was the day you were born. Your grandparents, aunts and uncles, and your friends Yates, Alyson, Michael, Julia and I sat in a waiting room that early morning in April. It was silent in the room when suddenly we heard a loud cry. You had arrived. Everyone snapped to attention. Lolli was the first to stand up straight and fast. We all moved from the waiting room to outside the door of your room. Grandpa Buddy had one arm around your Grandma Liz and raised his other hand toward your room and began to give God praise. Your Pop began to sing “Yes, Jesus Loves Blakely,” and we all joined in. Grandma Liz commented how we needed to record your cry and Uncle Connor quickly stepped up to your door with his phone to record. Everyone was so happy to hear you. Before that moment, I had no idea it was possible to be so happy to hear a baby continually cry. It was remarkable.
Then we got to meet you. You were beautiful and your mom and dad held you and looked at you with such pride and love. We took turns holding you, sang worship songs, read Bible stories and watched your baptism. We gathered around you and your parents and prayed and we all had our eyes fixed on you the whole time. Later that morning we had Chick-fil-A for breakfast – probably not a surprise to you knowing your dad.
I always looked forward to seeing you – even when it meant driving to the hospital. It was comforting to be in the same room as you. I miss your eyes, hanging out with you during solar eclipses, telling you funny stories about your dad from when he was in middle school and waiting to see you smile while holding you. I miss getting videos and pictures of you from your dad, hearing your mom call you “girl,” and seeing you when I visit your house. I still look forward to seeing you. Your life taught me that because of Jesus, I can do that with hope.
You are one of the bravest people I know, Blakely. I look up to you and am thankful for you and your life. One time your dad called you a worship leader and I can’t think of a better phrase to describe what you did the morning you were born and so many other times since then. Thank you for teaching me and so many others about the story that God is telling. Thank you for loving all of us so well, Blakely. I love you.