As students, faculty and parents prepare for the upcoming 2008 Northview High School Prom, one young lady is noticeably absent.
Junior Brandee N. Siples, 17, was killed in a traffic accident along the Clay/Putnam line on Nov. 17, 2007.
"She was so excited," Brandee's Mom, Pam Siples, said. "We bought her dress last October. It is absolutely gorgeous, just like she was."
Brandee's lavender prom dress hangs in her room, which remains the same as the November morning she left her home for the last time.
"It's hard," Pam said about her family struggling daily with Brandee's death. "Last week was tough. It was spring break and our Brandee wasn't here. We all miss her terribly."
Shortly after 6 a.m. each morning, Pam goes into Brandee's room expecting her daughter to grumble about getting up so early.
"I can't put her stuff away," Pam said. "I don't think I ever will. This room helps comfort me."
Brandee's father, Terry, has turned into a clock-watcher.
"Every night I look up to see if it's time for Brandee to come home from her job at Taco Bell," Terry said. "I find myself watching outside for her to pull her car in the driveway so I can put her car away."
For Brandee's brother, Brett, it is difficult to continue with family traditions and holidays.
"We did everything as a family before. It's just not the same anymore," he said. "We're missing a huge part of our family."
"If it wasn't for our faith, we couldn't get through this," Pam said.
Knowing how much she wanted to attend prom, the Siples' family tried to think of something to do to honor Brandee's memory and allow her be a part of this year's prom activities.
Because Brandee loved to wear silicone bracelets for inspiration and a family friend showed Pam a remembrance bracelet in honor of another teenager who passed away, the idea of a creating a silicone bracelet in Brandee's memory came to mind.
"I mentioned the idea to a friend of mine who is on the Northview Prom Committee and then to Junior Class Sponsor Amy Wetnight Taylor. They both agreed that it sounded like a good idea," Siples said, adding that Northview Principal Tim Rayle also supported the idea.
A design was created using pink and blue colors swirled together with the words "Brandee Nicole Siples Our Angel Got Her Wings" engraved on the bracelets.
"Pink was the color of Brandee's car, and blue was her favorite color," Siples said. "We've sold more than 200 so far."
The bracelets will be available at a cost $1.00 each at Northview High School when prom tickets go on sale.
"All of the profits will be sent to Riley Children's Hospital in Indianapolis where Brandee spent a lot of time as a child," Pam said. "She was a miracle from the moment she was born."
Suffering from a heart defect at birth, Brandee was in and out of Riley Hospital throughout her life for medical treatment. In 2004, she was diagnosed with severe scoliosis when doctors discovered three curves in her spine.
"Doctors were planning to put rods in her back to help her spine, but the idea of surgery terrified Brandee," Pam said. "We were planning on putting the surgery off till after she graduated. After having so many x-rays in her life, Brandee was planning on becoming a radiologist so she could help other people."
Living with so many medical problems, Brandee's family said she understood the joy of life and lived each day to its fullest.
The family hopes to be able to send at least $700 in Brandee's memory to Riley.
"Brandee was a joy. A big hugger, she kissed and hugged everyone before she left," Pam said. "That's the hardest part, no more hugs. I can't feel her arms around me anymore."
The Siples family hopes the bracelets will also be a reminder for young people to make wise decisions during this prom season.
"Life is precious," Brett, a recent Northview graduate, said while offering advise to other young people. "Please don't drink and drive. A lot of people leave the prom and go drinking or partying."
With speed being a factor in the accident that killed his sister, Brett also urges young people to drive responsibly.
"Don't go racing either," he said. "People need to know that it does happen, maybe not at prom, but it happens. It's not worth it."
Pam and Terry agree with their son and hope the bracelets will be a reminder for parents, who can take the opportunity to talk with their children.
"Kids think they are invincible. They don't think anything bad will or can happen to them," Pam said as her husband and son nodded in approval. "Parents need to realize that when their child walks out the door, for any reason, it might be the last time you see them."
If someone is interested in purchasing a bracelet, contact Brett Siples at 201-4045 or Pam Siples at 236-3651 for more details.