What happens when the rose-colored glasses break

On Tuesday, June 28, 2022 at 8:37 p.m. the sun set in Waukesha, Wisconsin – the moment Tori's heart beat for the last time. Five minutes later, at 8:42 p.m. the sun set in Madison – the moment her passing was officially declared.

It was one of the most beautiful sunsets I have ever seen. I noticed it as I was walking Madeline to her car, which was parked on the roof of the parking garage. There were just enough wispy clouds to give the sky the shades of blues and whites, with hints of pinks and purples. I thought about taking a picture but knew my phone could never capture the true magnitude of beauty I was witnessing.

I few minutes later I was back down on the ground and saw not one, but three hummingbirds in a bush with red flowers that I hadn't noticed before. Again, I thought about taking a picture but the light was fading and I knew they would be gone by the time I got my phone out.

Soon after, we learned the wait was over. I think it's safe to say we all secretly breathed a sigh of relief. We also learned that in that last hour they had found a FIFTH match for her organs. Of course, it's just like our loving, generous, and responsible Tori to go beyond just a sticker on her driver's license – she made sure her passing wouldn't be in vain – and then she hung around just long enough to save as many lives as she possibly could.

I wish I could say I loved Tori from the moment I met her, but that wouldn't be entirely true. Thinking back now, I think it happened the first time her dad told me about her – and grew a little more with each memory he shared. But I'm pretty sure he failed to describe the sound of her laugh and the way she shook her shoulders – or the way she gestured when she was excited or pursed her lips when she was thinking. The funky glasses she loved wearing. The way she welcomed a “new” sister without hesitation. Bonded with her over plants and fish and whatever else. Taught her how to drive. I loved listening to them laugh together.

I'm pretty sure she never walked silently into a room, but even if she did you would still know she was there.

I love every single memory her dad and brother share with me, though sometimes I'm a little jealous. I wish I could have been there for those moments. Even more, I wish I could have made more of my own.

Sheryl, I know I've said this once before, but it bears repeating. From the bottom of my heart, THANK YOU for sharing your beautiful girl and her incredible brother with me.