Everyone else is doing this…Meanwhile

Dear Haddie Bo Bo:

Your Daddy and I just got back from a trip out west. We visited a friend that Mama met at the National Cribs for Kids Conference. We attended her Gala for her foundation that is very similar to Haddie’s Calling but on a much bigger scale. I had the pleasure of sharing your story and helping raise money to prevent further safe sleep deaths. We also spent a lot of our time learning how they run their foundation. We did get to spend time together and explore the mountains. The Tetons are beautiful and any time I am some place beautiful it makes me think, reminisce, and dream of you.

There was a point during the trip that many friends started posting “back to school” type stuff on facebook. Everyone is doing some form of this whether its actually going back to school, shopping for school, or just can’t wait to send the kids back to school. Which I totally get these things are necessary. Obviously we have to get ready to go back to school.

But while everyone is doing that I am inside having massive anxiety about it. Nothing as it should be for our family. This is one of those times that slaps me in the face. This would be your first year of kindergarten. You should be hopping on that bus with Elo. Elo should be so excited to show you around the school. But instead I can only imagine in my head what those moments might look like. My heart is heavy for Elo. We talked about how you would be going to school with her and she said she would hold your hand on the playground and push you on the swings. Heart Broken.

I feel like this is a common theme in my life. That while everyone is doing this, I’m doing or feeling something completely different. Many times no one can tell the inner agony I am feeling. That’s ok. Even the people that live with me in my house don’t even know.

So as many people look forward to the first day of school I dread it. I’ll have to figure out again how to be so excited for Elo, send her off with a smile, as my heart crumbles to pieces. But this is my normal, in fact I’m a pro at it now.

I love you Haddie and you deserve the world. So does your sister and brother. You deserve back to school shopping, and first day of school pictures. I wonder what your answers would be for our chalkboard? What do you want to be when you grow up? What’s your favorite color? Who’s class you would be in?

I still find myself asking, “Haddie where are you?”

I love you.

Mama

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Haddie’s Mother’s Day Gift

Haddie,

Mother’s day is always a day that I have dreaded since you died, for many reasons. Of course because you aren’t here, but also because of the guilt I feel. I decided to take a cruise without you on the only Mother’s Day you were alive. It’s hard to feel like celebrating with one of my kids is not here. I am so thankful for Elo and Fitz and the short time I got to be your mother here on earth. But the truth is it’s hard to be a mother to a child that is no longer here.

So I got an unexpected Mother’s Day gift a few days early. I went to the Kids for Cribs National Safe sleep conference at the end of April. I learned so much about safe sleep and SIDS/SUIDS deaths. Unfortunately babies are still dying. Everyday in the United States 10 babies die due to unsafe sleep or SIDS/SUIDS. We have come along way but there is still so much work to do. Besides learning so much I also met several new good friends. The kind of friends that “get it”. The friends that know the road I am walking because they are walking it too. Liz is a new friend that I met and she is from Idaho. This was the first time I have ever met someone from Idaho. We connected on several levels and we have been keeping in touch.

Liz called me Thursday and I missed her call. She sent a text that said, “Call me when you can”. So after I wrestled my phone out of your brother’s hand I gave her a call. She told me how she was currently in Seattle, Washinton for training because she is on the death investigation board for her county. She was attending training with her friend and at the end of the day they were swapping notes. Her friend told her that he was in a training and they showed a video of a baby girl that died in Michigan at daycare. She was 9 months old. Liz asked her name. He said, “Haddie.”

Liz’s mind was blown. She said, “I know Haddie’s mom. I just met her.” The next day Liz attended this same training and sure enough there was a video of me, her new friend, talking about what happened to you, Haddie.

Liz goes on to tell me that the trainer is a National trainer that uses this video ALL OVER THE US to train first responders (police, fireman, etc) on death investigation scenes.

Do you know what this means????

Haddie, your story has been told in Seattle, Florida, Pittsburgh, and so many more places that I don’t even know about.

What a gift! Tears immediately started flowing. I was so proud of you in that moment. I felt so honored. But also at the exact same time I was sad. Sad that this is our story. But this is good. So good. This was all happening and has BEEN happening without me knowing. I would have NEVER known this if I didn’t attend this conference and meet Liz. I wouldn’t have met Liz if I didn’t force myself to go to the reception welcome night…ALONE. Liz came up to my table where I was standing by myself and introduced herself. This was not by chance. We were meant to met.

MY MIND WAS BLOWN. I was speechless.

So while I was missing you horribly this weekend I got this special gift and I treasure it. Liz gave my number to this trainer and we have exchanged texts. It is priceless. I am so thankful for the people who are dedicated to this cause and who share your story.

I love you forever.

Your Mama.

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Mother Nature can’t make up her mind, and neither can my heart.

Those Eyes

Dear Haddie Bo Bo,

We have experienced all four season in one week here in Michigan. Early this week we had amazing summer-like weather. It felt so good to be outside breathing in fresh air, and letting the sun warm my skin. It is truly amazing how weather can be so good for your spirit. Then today we have snow on the ground and we almost drove our car into a ditch on the way to church group (after the second slide off we turned around and went home).

This time of year is always a difficult one. I start to relive “that year”. I look back on the memories that we shared and I can feel the anxiety rising because I know what is to come. I have an urge to shake off the hibernation of winter, and come alive again with the weather. But with that same breath the inner turmoil is burning inside.

Your daddy and I went on a long over due date last night. I asked your daddy if he gets sad this time of year. He said that he “has a new normal”. He went on to explain that my grief is more like a roller coaster up and down. Similar to Michigan again weather; one day I’m wearing flip flops and soaking in the sunshine and the next my world is cold and snow covered. Your daddy said that his grief is steady and stays pretty consistent. His highs aren’t as high and his lows are lower. When life is a 10 it’s now an 8, when life is a 3 now it’s a -3. This may not be making sense to you, but it was eye opening to me. It made so much sense.

One area of my life that is coming alive again is my faith. It is a VERY slow process and just like my grief it is up and down. It has been 3 years since we have really attended a church, or been involved with a life group. For me it was even deeper than that. It’s been 3 years since I have opened my Bible or even said a prayer that wasn’t just for my kids sake. But even though I know that I haven’t been pursuing God, he hadn’t left me. He pursued me at the right time. He knew that if he left it to me I would have probably never taken that first step. One day out of the blue my pastor’s wife texted me and said she wanted us to be a part of this group they are going to lead. It was a sign. A big sign. Even though I didn’t really want to go, and I didn’t feel ready to open that part of my heart again, we went. This is not where I tell you that I have this deep relationship with God, and I am praying everyday, and reading my Bible. I am still not consistently doing any of that. But I am showing up, when I can. Sometimes I am just going through the motions. But that is all I can do at this moment and I know that God is meeting me there.

Time does not heal all. But time does change things, and feelings.

Haddie everyday I am thinking of you. I grieve you everyday. Sometimes it is just a thought, or a picture. While more recently it’s crying in the shower, and in the car, and constant cycling thoughts. But that’s the ebb and flow of my grief.

I love you. It’s not fair. You should be here. I miss you. These words seem so empty. So not enough to describe a lifetime without you.

Love Your Mama.

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A little bit Selfish

 

To MY daughter Haddie Bo Bo,

I know it’s been awhile since I have written.  But know that you are in my mind all the time.  Literally….ALL THE TIME.

This will be our 4th Christmas without you.  Just typing that out I can feel my eyes start to fill and the blood drain from my head, to my arms, and on down to the rest of my body.  How is that possible?  This is the first year I set up our big Christmas tree since you left.  After I did it I almost immediately regretted it.  Not because your little brother starting chucking the glass ornaments like they were baseballs.  But because of what this symbolizes.  Does it mean I’m ok?  That we are moving on?  That the holidays without doesn’t hurt as much?  I’m sure that the people around us think that….maybe HOPE that.

But it couldn’t be farther from the truth.  As I sit here watching my Hallmark Christmas movie for the night, and stare at my Christmas tree, guilt washes over me.  I can already hear the comments coming in, “Don’t feel guilty…Haddie would want you to celebrate…She is always with you…”  While I truly truly appreciate the meaning behind these words they mean nothing.  They change nothing.  Our joyous moments will always be mixed in with our sad and devastating moments.

No matter how much people want that not to be true…it is.  I know that people want and hope that things get easier.  Somethings NEVER will.  In somethings the pain has become less raw….and has developed into something else.  A different filter?

I know that people talk.  I know that people don’t understand.  Maybe they think I’m being selfish.  Maybe I am.  But when your whole world is turned upside down….never to be right again.  I think you earn the right to be a little bit selfish.  To make those decisions that are right for you…for your family.  To preserve your memory.  Your spot in this family.

Today we had your sister’s school conferences.  She is sailing through school with expected brilliance.  She is so smart.  Her teacher showed us this picture and story she made about our family.  It was the first picture she has drawn of our family that she left you out.  Or she forgot to draw you.  As I looked at the picture, I was so proud of her work, but a part of my heart sank.  She’s forgetting.  I’m forgetting.  Others are forgetting.  And as much as I consciously try to keep you here I know that it gets harder.  It gets harder to keep you a part of everything.

But please know baby girl I would do anything to go back.  To change that day.  To have you here with us.

I love you,

 

Mama

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Today…I can’t find the good

haddie's calling safe sleep
I love how you have your hand on Elo’s leg

Haddie Bo Bo,

 

Wow life has been busy, distracting, and moving along.

Today I can’t find the good.  Usually I can find something positive to distract myself from the feelings that I have about you not being here.  Today I can’t.  Your face is what I see when I close my eyes.  My thoughts are running over the what if’s, if only’s, and I wish I could change…  The hole you left is big and no matter what I try to do it can not be filled.  Not that I want to fill it, but I think it’s something that naturally naturally happens.  I have two little kids at home always needing something, I have a mom that is having health issues, I have a busy neighborhood with something going on at all times, I take pills that are supposed to make me mentally stable, and today….I am aching for you.  Today I am thinking of you, wanting you… Today none of that busy-ness is taking away the pain or distracting me from it.

Elo has been having a hard time recently.  She has been talking about you a lot.  A couple weeks ago she came up to me riding her scooter and exclaimed, “Haddie is leaving my brain.  I can’t remember when she bit my butt.”  She cried for you.  I got angry.  Not at Elo but at this situation we are all in.  She tells her friends about you and it warms my heart.  So many times I don’t know what to say or how to comfort her.  I usually say the things I am supposed to say, “Haddie is always with you, we will see her again in heaven.”  But I lack the believability behind the words.  Because I don’t find those words comforting, or enough to get me through.

Your birthday is approaching.  You would be 4, on August 4, your golden birthday.  We went to visit Grandma in the hospital last night and Elo and Fitz were running through the hallways singing and talking loudly.  Elo was ahead of Fitz and I asked your Daddy, “Wouldn’t it be crazy if there was 3 of them?”  There should have been another little one running between them.  I tried to imagine you there where you should be, in the middle.

I recently watched this documentary on HBO called There’s Something Wrong With Aunt Diane.  It was about a mom who drove the wrong way down the highway, killing herself, her daughter, and her 3 nieces.  The mom of the 3 girls that died wrote a book called, I’ll See You Again.  She talks about what happened and her grief.  The story was gut wrenching….but I identified with every word she wrote.  She talked about not wanting to live with out her girls and just wanting to be with them.  But then she ended up having another child and knew that she needed her more than her girls.  This book made me feel normal.  That I am not alone.  That all the ups and downs, irrational thoughts, fights, screaming, are all normal.  This is my normal now; happy and sad all rolled into one.

I treasure the times we had together, even when they are painful.  It seems like another lifetime and I find myself questioning if I really did live that life.

Love,

 

Your Mama

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I dream

haddies calling, safe sleep
Dedication Day at church

Haddie Bo Bo,

I’m a dreamer.  I always have been.

When you dream of what your future might hold you dream big.  At least I did.  You think about your dream job, your dream house, the family you will have.  You dream about the places you will travel and the memories you will make.  You dream about the kind of life you will give those you love.

No one dreams of a tragedy.

No one considers the things in life that might alter those dreams.  Alter them in a way that you feel you cannot recover or that you spend the rest of your days trying to recover, make-up, or some how survive.

I was at your sister’s t-ball game yesterday and the sun was shining, your little brother was on my lap, we were sitting in the grass, and I thought this is the life that I dreamt.  Almost.  Because once I thought about that then I thought about how you aren’t out on that field with your sister playing in the dirt instead of watching for the ball.

Last Sunday we tried out a new church.  It was baptism Sunday and these parents were their to baptism/dedicate their babies.  I did that.  I dressed you up, I wrote you a letter, I prayed for you, I stood in front of church and dedicated your life to God.  I promised that I would care for you and teach you about Jesus and how much he loves you.  I did NOT stand on that stage and think that 4 months later I would be closing your casket never to see your face again.  I’m sure the parents that stood on that stage never have the thought that the baby they are holding might die.  Who does?  Then they ended the service with the David Crowder song “Come as you are” and there is a line in that song, “earth has no sorrow that heaven can’t heal”.  I just can’t sing those words or even hear them.  Because right now this isn’t healed no matter how much I pray that God heals my heart it doesn’t seem possible.  The only way my heart will be healed is when I get to heaven and I’m reunited with you.

I still dream.  But the dream is different.  I’m constantly dreaming the “what if’s”.  I dream about what your passions would be.  I dream about the relationship you would have had with your sister.  I dream about what life would have looked like for you and siblings when you grew up.  I dream about how our family would have been.

I dream about when you were here.  I dream about your bald little head that I used to rub with my hand.  I dream about how you would cling to me when there were a lot of people around.  I dream about how you would smile at me when you saw me for the first time after a day at daycare.  I dream of your cry, of your laugh, and your toothy grin.

I dream of our “normal” life.  A life where I wasn’t constantly dreaming of what was and what could have been.  I dream of days that I don’t have hide my tears from my husband, my kids, from my friends.  I dream of days where I am not annoyed at my kids because they won’t just let me sit and cry for you. I hate when I feel that way. I dream of vacations that I don’t have to write your name in the sand because you aren’t here.  I dream of family pictures without a shadow where you should be.  I dream of holding you in my arms and not your ashes around my neck.  I

I will never stop dreaming of you….and dreaming for you.

Love you so much!

 

Love,

Mama

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Seeing You Hurts

Haddie Bo Bo,

 

It almost seems like a sin to say but today I saw a video of you and at first I looked away.  Then realizing what I did I forced my self to look at your face and stare into your eyes.  It hurt to see you so alive, moving, and babbling.  I almost felt a sense of shame??? I remember you everyday.  But today the feeling I felt when I saw you I can’t describe in words.  So much of your life feels like a dream that I once lived.  So long ago.  A different lifetime.  I was different when you were alive, our family was different, my marriage was different.  Some how things made sense when you were here.  You are the missing piece.  You will always be the missing piece that makes this family whole.  That makes this life make sense.

Last week I was away for work.  So I spent a night alone in a hotel room.  I had all of these plans to relax, sit in the hot tub, maybe go shopping with out your brother screaming at the top of his lungs.  But I couldn’t.  I couldn’t seem to remove myself from the bed (after work).  I sobbed the whole night and again in the morning.  I’m not sure why, other than I was alone and I could grieve you freely.  Without judgement.  Without scarring my children.  Without eye rolls.  Without having to give an explanation.  I have had many many good days and I have shed considerably less tears in the last few months.  I guess it was just time to release them.  You were a big deal.  You deserve every tear, every thought I have to give.

Sometimes when I am missing you, and I may look sad, I get the question, “What’s wrong?”  Inside I am thinking “Are you really asking me this question?”  You aren’t here that’s what’s wrong and that’s what will be wrong for the rest of my life.  I hate trying to explain myself because I can’t.  There are times where there is just sadness looming and not a specific reason that I can point too, or something that has triggered an emotion.  I think its deep within my soul.  A feeling that is always there under the surface at all times.

At the end of the day I may be the only one that remembers you.  And that’s ok.  You were a part of me that can not be replaced.  Even though I know subconsciously I am always searching and trying to fill that void whether I want to admit or not.  I think it’s natural to try to fix something that is broken.  Even when it isn’t fixable.

 

Today I remember you even when it hurts.  I love you

Love,

 

Mama

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What is this thing called “peace”?

Dear Haddie Bo Bo:

What is this thing called “peace”?

Does it really exist?

How do you find it?

I see people who have also been chosen to live this journey of losing and child and they seem to be at peace.  Maybe I am wrong and they aren’t at peace.  Is it a choice?  Something you pray for?  A decision?  Does it just come?

We had a fantastic holiday season.  It was our first time that we spent it at home since you passed.  We made many memories dancing in the kitchen in our Christmas PJ’s, going to see Santa, cuddling on the couch on Christmas Eve, opening our stockings Christmas morning, and being around the table enjoying a holiday meal.

In that same breath there were many sad moments this holiday season; dancing in the kitchen in our Christmas PJ’s, going to see Santa, cuddling on the couch on Christmas Eve, opening our stockings Christmas morning, and being around the table enjoying a holiday meal. You were missing from those moments.  We set a special chair for you around the table, and lit a candle in your memory.  After we opened our stockings I looked up to where they hung and there was your stocking still hanging alone…and empty.

There is a side of Christmas that I don’t let other’s see, even your Daddy.  There were tears shed in the car when I had to “run out” and grab a last minute item.  Or the moments I would cry with my head in a closet and popping a Xanax to get through the day.  I love Christmas I always have and this year I wanted to do “Christmas” in every way possible.  I decorated the house pretty much up until Christmas Eve, hosted 2 Christmas parties for friends, saw the lights in Chicago for a moment, and the lights here at the ballpark.  I guess I hoped that the bigger I made Christmas the smaller I was hoping your absence would be.  Although it made the season super fun and memorable….it did not come close to filling the missing hole in my heart.

It makes my day when someone remembers you…whether it’s in a big way or the smallest way.  One of your Aunt’s remember you by making a donation in your honor.  Someone gives us a ornament every year with your name on it.  This year one family member mentioned to me that she was thinking about how it would be if you were here in your Christmas dress and opening your gifts.  She also said that she couldn’t imagine how I feel during this time and how I must imagine you being here constantly.  It was such a gift to have her acknowledge your absence.

There may be parts of your passing that I will come to have peace about.  But I am beginning to think that I will never be at peace about you not being here.  I’m still mad.  I still ask God why this happened to you and our family.  I still tell him I am hurt.  It is a journey to find peace.  I also think it’s a choice.  There will be moments of peace, maybe even seasons of it. But there will also be relapses…..

Even if everyone else forgets Haddie….I won’t.  I promise.

Love,

Mama

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You Completed this story

 

Haddie Bo Bo,

You were small.  You were just a baby.  You hadn’t spoken your first words yet or taken your first steps.  You hadn’t lived long enough for people to know who Hadley Sue Bromley was all about.  In fact the only people who really knew you were just a handful of us.  You didn’t make any art work for me to hang, or write anything for me to reread.  I guess you could say that you hadn’t made your mark on the world yet.  You hadn’t experienced a lifetime of living like someone who dies at the end of a “good life”.  You didn’t have stories to tell or advice to give.

But none of that matters. I KNEW you.  9 months is a short life and hardly long enough to say that you truly know someone.  But I knew you.  You changed my world completely and then you changed it again when you left.  You may have been small but the loss of you is BIG.  It is ginormous.  It fills my mind, and my heart. It defines me. I am a different person because of you and forever changed.  To me you were more than just a baby.  You were MINE.  I had so many hopes and dreams for you and our family.  You completed this story.

The other day Eloise was at the neighbor’s house.  She met their “Papa” for the first time and in true Eloise fashion she sat down and told him everything she wanted to share.  She told him about you “her sister” and of course she told him that you died.  She then told him that I keep you in a box with a “bunch of sand”.  This made me laugh out loud.  Oh Eloise…someday it will all make sense to you and I am sorry.  I show Fitz your videos and I tell him all about you. It’s painful.  I will probably be that Mom that they talk about amongst themselves. That is until they have their own children and realize what I have lost.  What we have lost.

Love you Hads,

 

Mama

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I’m sorry that I am not sorry

Haddie Bo Bo,

It is so true that grief will catch you by surprise.  One minute you are laughing, interacting, and having a great time.   Then within minutes I am flooded with memories of you, my body becomes hot, and tears well up in my eyes.  In that moment surrounded by friends, strangers, and Daddy sitting beside me I feel alone.

Bryce is our neighbor and today we celebrated his birthday.  His daddy put together this amazing slide show of his 3rd year.  It just hit me that these are the moments I am missing with you.  The day to day, funny things you would be doing, that I would take a million pictures of and videos to document them.  This slideshow showed a whole year of the little moments that Bryce’s family enjoyed with him.  I wish I had these moments with you.  I am glad that I watched the slide show for many reasons.  One being that Bryce is such a happy, joyful child, and he is just so cute!  Another being that I could imagine the moments that we would have had with you, and yes that made me sad but it also let me dream.

I try so very hard to keep you a part of our day to day lives.  I bring a picture of you to our family pictures.  We include you in our bed time prayers.  When people ask me about my family I always include you.  But the harsh reality is you are not here.  You are not part of our everyday life.  Although I do not cry for you everyday there are still moments in my life that I completely shut down.  I get angry.  My parenting begins to suffer.  My marriage suffers.

I put up our Christmas tree for the first time since you died.  It sucked.  Grammy came over and helped me.  I didn’t let her see my tears.  I love the Holidays I always have, I want to love them again.  It’s an inner struggle.  If I let myself love them again does that mean I am moving on?  That life is back to normal?

Unfortunately our neighbors across the street have also suffered the loss of child so they get it.  She has been helping me decorate and it has been fun.  Yes we are very blessed.  I love my children beyond words.  I am NOT moving on….and I never will.  I read this quote somewhere, “I am not doing better, I just got better at hiding it from you”.  I can totally relate with this quote.  Although I do know that I AM doing better.  I can function somewhat normally most of the time, there are still moments that my grief brings me to my knees.  I still have those times that I sob uncontrollably in the car.  I still think crazy irrational thoughts from time to time.  But I think that is part of my “new normal”.  I’m sorry that I am not sorry if it makes others uncomfortable.  I am not in the business of being fake or pretending to make others feel good about themselves.  That’s not real life.  I don’t want to have a relationship with someone that I have to pretend with, I do not have the energy for that nonsense.

I am looking forward to watching Elo and Fitz on Christmas morning and experience the magic that is Christmas with them.  We will remember you always and even though the Christmas tree is up….it does not mean that my heart hurts less for you.

 

Love,

Mama

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