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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I want to go home

 

Dear Haddie Bo Bo,

 

Today I am ready to go home. Not to my house. I’m ready to go home to heaven to be with you. I am tired. I am so tired of carrying this burden around. Today it is really weighing me down. My chest feels heavy and my mind is racing. I am longing for reconciliation for my pain. I want to go where my tears stop. I am done with the drama of this life, the bad, and the hurting that seems to never cease. I want my family to be whole again. All week I have been feeling this and now it seems too much. (Disclaimer: I am not suicidal just sad and longing for heaven).

 

Today I am here at an event for families. I am passing out your sleep sacks and telling your story, which feels good. It makes you real. I cried the whole way here.

 

Eloise has asked me more than once if we can have a new baby girl and name her Haddie. Her sweet little heart misses you so much and I know she just wants you back. I know this is her way of trying to keep you close to her.

 

Yesterday we met Aunt Alisa for ice cream. I asked your buddy Crew how old he is going to be on his birthday. He held up 3 little fingers; he got a huge grin and with ice cream dripping down his face, and proudly said three!!! I smiled, because how could I not, he was so cute. But I also saw your face. I imagined you running around with ice cream on your face, and proudly telling people you are turning 3. It felt like someone reached into my chest and ripped out what is left of my heart. I asked Crew this question without thinking about the after effects, or where it would make my mind go. It’s a hard time of year. It starts in May with memories of how we spent your last weeks not knowing you weren’t going to be with us much longer. Then June 2nd the day you died, and the memories of everything that went along with that visitation, and your funeral. Then we celebrate your birthday. But summer is also many of your friend’s birthdays too. While we love them all so much it is hard to see everyone turn 3, get older, accomplish all their milestones, and think about what should be.

 

I am just missing you. I am feeling alone. I want to go back to when I had my “perfect” life instead of watching everyone else’s.

 

Love you,

 

Mama

 

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New Losses

Haddie Bo Bo
I am sitting on the couch in the basement of our new house. We did it, we moved.

Moving day came so fast. I didn’t really have time to think about what it all meant. It was probably for the best. Your room was the last room that I packed. The day of the move Daddy and his helpers moved everything possible first. Then Aunt Alisa came over to me and said, “Chris said they need to put Haddie’s crib in next”. I froze and started to panic in my head. I ignored it and went to the basement to “pack” more boxes as I sobbed. Another hour went by. Finally it was time and I couldn’t ignore it anymore. Your daddy and I went up to your room. He said we had to take your crib apart because it wouldn’t fit through the door. So I took your mattress off. I will be honest your mattress is gross!!! It still has spit up and drool stains from you. Now since it’s been two years it has started to turn yellow from the sweat on the crib sheet. I sat it up against the wall and I put my nose right on those yellow spots and tried to smell you. This was your sweat it came from you and no matter how gross it is I treasure it. After we moved the crib we found 3 little white socks. Ones that you had kicked off your feet at night. You did that. Finding these were a reminder that you were here, you were alive, you were real. This was hard. I cried a lot and Daddy promised he would set your crib up at our new house. Once we were packed, we got in our cars and you sat on my lap as we drove to our new house.

Monday night I went to my first grief group meeting. I hadn’t given much thought to attending, but as it got closer in the day I started to shut down. Just walking through the doors of the church I could feel the lump in my throat. I’m not sure why it was so hard. Never in my life would I think that I would be attending a group because I lost my child. That just never crosses your mind. We were asked to share a little bit about our child. This should have been easy for me. I love to talk about you, and I tell your story often. I could barely get your name out of my mouth. I wanted to be there, I needed to be there, but at the same time I was pissed that I was there. I am still very angry and bitter that you aren’t here. I struggle with the lack of control that I have over this situation. That can get pretty ugly and unfortunately Daddy usually gets the brunt of it.

One thing that stuck out to me was the phrase “new losses”. Every day I feel your loss. But as we live this life with out you there are times we experience new losses. Moving into this house with out you felt like a huge loss. This fall I will watch your friends go off to their first year of preschool with out you. Sometimes new losses can be anticipated and other times they surprise you. Being surprised by them is the hardest for me.

We are excited to be here in our new house, closer to our friends, and family. There are a lot of kids in our neighborhood and what I wouldn’t give to see you run around with them. I really think you would like your new room. I love you Haddie and my heart continually aches for you.

Love,

Mama

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Don’t EVER think you have a lifetime

Haddie Bo Bo,

It’s that time of year again. The time of year where I relive everything that happened up until you passed away. Then when June 2nd comes around, the day that you passed, I start to relive that and everything after that too.

It was Mother’s day a few weeks ago. 2 years ago your Daddy and I decided to go on a cruise just the two of us. When booking the travel agent had said, “This cruise is over mother’s day, is that ok?”. I remember saying yes, thinking I would have a lifetime of mother’s days with you. Lesson number one don’t ever think you have a lifetime. That is faulty thinking. So now my Mother’s Days, and the days leading up to them, are spent figuring out how I feel about it. I would like to let the day pass, like it was any other day. I don’t want to stand in the card aisle trying to pick one out. But is that fair to Grammy and Mimi? They are amazing women who deserve to be celebrated. Is it fair to Eloise and Fitz? They deserve to celebrate their mom too. But I feel so stuck in my hurt and grief on days that should be celebrated, that I can’t seem to blend the two yet. I fear that I won’t be able too, or maybe it’s that I don’t ever want too. I just keep thinking, what about Haddie? What about this trauma we lived through? Are we supposed to forget it? Live life like it never happened?

June 2nd is a sad day. That’s what it is. Some people ask what we will do to “celebrate” or “honor” you on that day. I do not think we need to try to change this day to a happy event. On August 4th your birthday that is when we celebrate your life. June 2nd is a day that reminds me that you are dead. Your life was stolen from us, and you should be here. We drove to the beach and had lunch, sat in the sun, and talked about you. We came home and I took your ashes out of your box and I held them. I went through your trunk of memories and looked at everything. I sobbed. I ached for you. Then at night your Mimi and I decided to get tattoos. I made the decision this year that I want to get a tattoo for every year that you are gone. It took me awhile to decide what I wanted. But since you have been gone every night Eloise prays that Jesus would give you, “Hugs and Kisses on your forehead”. So I got “XO XO” tattooed on my side for the 2 years that we have lived with out you. That felt right.

We are moving in the next two weeks. We have begun packing the house and almost everything is packed except for your room. I think that will be the last room I pack. You will have a room in our new house and I made sure when we were looking that there would be a space for you. A good friend suggested that your room could also serve as my Haddie’s Calling office. While packing I found a piece of your car seat. It was the part that goes around your head. I put it up to my nose and inhaled deeply. Shocked I realized that it smelled like you. It’s been forever since I have smelled that smell. It made me happy.

Today I woke up and I had to go to the dentist to get a tooth filled. My appointment was at 10:00 am. I was laying in the chair with my laughing gas starting to relax and I received a text from one of your Aunts. She said I am thinking about you today and I love you. At that very moment I hated myself. I knew what day it was. I should have known what day it was. The fact that I had been awake for 2.5 hours and not known what day it was made me feel immense guilt. Tears streamed down my face. The dentist asked me if she was hurting me. I had to explain that it wasn’t her and that I just remembered that today was the 2 year anniversary of your funeral. The last time I held your body and saw your face. The last time I whispered in your ear that I love you, and I am sorry. I remember I couldn’t shut your casket and I had asked Dave our funeral director to do it after we left the room.

I carry you with me Haddie. Always. It still hurts.

Love,

Mama

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Your Last Day

Dear Haddie Bo Bo,

A lot has been going on.

Today Fitz is 2 days shy of being 10 months. This is how old you were on the day you died. I have dreaded this day since the moment I found out I was pregnant with him. I knew it would come, he would turn 10 months. He will eventually call me Mama, and take his first steps. These milestones make me happy. I love seeing how he has grown. But if I am being honest it also makes me very angry. It is just not fair, you should have called me Mama. You should have taken your first steps. These moments were stolen from us. From you. It hurts. I have no control over it. I can’t fix it or change it. The only option is to live with it. To live with this very heavy burden that sits in the middle of my chest and makes it hard to breath. I saw another bereaved mom post on facebook and she said how must it hurts to look at her child’s pictures. I have felt this on many occasions. I haven’t been able to say it out loud though. It seemed like a crime to think it. There are moments I treasure your photos and I stare at them. There have been several occasions that I sit and watch your videos for hours. But there are also times where I look away. It is too painful to see your face. It get that. I had a “me too” moment. You never think that an image of your child would cause you so much unspeakable pain.

We have decided to move.

We sold the house where we first became parents. I won’t be able to see the places that I remember you in daily. The patio door where you were standing, and then crawled over to me on your last morning. I won’t be able to sit on the floor of your room, holding you teddy bear, and trying to inhale the last of your scent off your blankets. But I know this is the right move for our family. I am so glad we did not bury you. I would not be able to leave you here. But when we do pack up and move you will ride with us in our car. I will not pack you into a box, ever. You will have a room in our new house. When we were looking I made sure that you would have a room. Your Daddy and I were discussing what we would do with your ashes down the road. I said maybe I would bury you someday if Eloise didn’t want the responsibility of having your ashes. Then your Daddy said that when I die, you could be buried with me. I haven’t thought about this until now. I immediately started to cry. I know my time here is not done, Eloise and Fitz need me. But I will tell you that the thought of us being together again is so comforting. I look forward to it everyday. I long for that moment. There are no words for the ache I feel for you. I think that is why I haven’t been writing to you so much these last few months. I sometimes feel like I have said all there is to say and those words are not enough. They do not describe the utter sorrow that I feel. The emptiness that is a constant, and the unexplained loneliness.

I haven’t been able to figure out how I feel about leaving the town where you died. I won’t have to drive past the rode where you passed away. I have done that and imagined what the scene looked like that day. It is a surreal feeling to know that police and paramedics raced to get to you with lights flashing and sirens blaring. Whenever I pull over to let an ambulance pass I always think of you and that day. I always wonder what is happening inside that ambulance. What is that story, and how will it change their lives? Will they survive? Why couldn’t you have survived? Why couldn’t that have been our story?

I love you so very much. That never changes.

Love,

Mama

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Unexpected Moments

Dear Haddie,

Last night I was putting your sister to bed.  She asked for chocolate milk.  When I say asked it was more of a whine, cry, and on the verge of loosing it over chocolate milk.  So I did what any parent on the top of their parenting game does…I gave in.  I headed down stairs and I could hear Elo crying.  I came up the stairs and I followed the sounds of her cry.  I found her in your room.  She was on the floor, in the middle of the room, holding the bear that Grammy made you.

She had big crocodile tears streaming down her face as she said, “Haddie forgot to take her teddy bear! She is going to be so sad without her teddy bear.  I miss her so much!”

I froze.  Then I slowly walked over to her and got on the floor and wrapped her in my arms as she continued to sob and say, “I miss Haddie!”  We sobbed together on the floor of your room.

After a few minutes she asked if we could pray about you.  She also asked me to talk about you.  So I told her the story about how she fed you ice cream until she thought you had enough and said, “Here Mama, Haddie no more.”  I told her about how you bit her bottom and left a huge red mark.  I told her about how she would read you her books in her bed.  I told her about how you would pull her hair just like Fitz does.

Elo fell asleep clutching your bear.  When she woke up this morning she showed Fitz the bear and said, “Fitz this bear is special it’s Haddie’s bear.”

My heart went from shattered to melted.

Last weekend I went on a girls trip with some friend from high school.  It was a great time.  We shared memories, laughs, and advice.  Then it happened.  I don’t know exactly what happened but all of a sudden I was sad.  I was quiet.  My friends would ask, “Are you ok.”  I would say “yes.”  Then the next time they asked I just shrugged.  I shrugged because I didn’t know if I was ok.  Nothing really happened to make me sad.  I just know that I felt it and all of a sudden I was.  This happens sometimes and I am used to it.  But I felt horrible that people noticed and I hope it didn’t effect them negatively.  Just because I am sad I don’t expect people to be sad too, or change what they are doing.  I know it’s me.

All in all we are all missing you around here.  We miss you in the big things and in the small things.

 

I love you,

Mama

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The Other Life

Haddie Bo Bo,

Today my mind keeps going there.

I feel the lump in my throat rising and I try to swallow it.

I feel the tears forming…they are seconds away.

I am irritable.  I snap easily.

I have the “mean” face, as Eloise calls it.

I know if I just let it go I can’t go back.

I struggle to keep it together.

I still can’t believe that this is my reality.

Some days I hate to admit it but I can pretend this didn’t happen.

I can live an almost normal life on the outside.

There is nothing new to say that I haven’t already said.

I do dream of the other life I was supposed to have.

I dream of the other life my kids should have.

I dream of the other marriage I should have.

“Which cloud is Haddie’s cloud, Mama?” Eloise asked me this today.  Usually I can appreciate her sweet innocence, and smile.  Today I couldn’t answer.

“What was I doing when Haddie died, Mama?”  Eloise asked me this a few days ago.

“I think you were sleeping, baby.”

I know you are worth every tear I have to shed.  You deserve them all.  I love you so much.  I miss you so much and I will always dream of “the other life we were supposed to have, the one where you didn’t die.”

 

Love,

Mama

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Growing Pains

Haddie,

 

Eloise is the only child that has called me Mama.  She is the only one that I have seen stand on her own, take her first steps, etc.  Fitz is getting older and he is starting to pass some key milestones.  He is now sitting up and getting up on his hands and knees.  I remember these moments so well with you.  I have a video of you up on your hands and knees rocking back and forth.  So as Fitz is learning to do all of these new things it reminds me of you.  So far he hasn’t done any of the things you didn’t do…but I know someday he will.  Someday he will call me Mama.  Someday he will stand up and take his first steps.  He will be potty trained.  I have 3 children and only 1 has done these things.  It blows my mind to think that Fitz will do these things.  By the time you have your 3rd child you think, “I will be an expert at such and such because I have done it twice before.”  But that is not the case here.  There is so much that I didn’t get to see you do.  There is a lifetime of things that you won’t do.  Memories you will be absent from. Fitz is 6 months and he is now bigger than you when you died.  He is a big boy!  Sometimes when he is sleeping in my arms I think of you and the last time I held you.  This is how big you were.

The other day I was at Aunt Alisa’s gym and she was telling someone about Crew going to 3’s preschool this fall.  I froze.  I held my breath as the thought entered my mind.  You would be going to preschool this fall.  HOW IS THAT POSSIBLE.  As quick as the thought came…I wanted it to leave.  It is not fair.  I just miss you so much. I feel like I am having growing pains.  It pains me that you are not growing and doing the things you should be.  As excited as I am to see Fitz grow and do new things it also pains me to know he will soon pass you and do the things that you didn’t get a chance to do.

 

I have a friend that struggles with infertility.  She has been waiting so well with so much grace.  She has every reason to be bitter, and angry with the cards she has been dealt.  She has faced disappointment after disappointment on this journey and yet she still has hope.  She still clings to her faith and trusts God’s will for her life even when she fiercely disagrees.  She truly puts me to shame.   I know that most of the time I am not waiting well.  I love my children.  But there are far more moments that I am angry, and bitter, and just want to throw in the towel.  I find myself wanting to pack up my family and run away.  There is something so appealing to moving away, far away.  So many days I wake up and there is a huge list of things I need to do or should do, but instead I sit on my couch in my robe surrounded by the chaos that is in my house.  Or I wake up and pack up the kids and run away from the house to a new adventure.  It’s a roller coaster with the highest highes, and the lowest lows.  I am hopeful that someday my “hope” will come back.  Or maybe I do hope but I’m to scared to embrace it, and just flat out reject it.

 

here is a video of you on your hands and knees:

IMG_8742

here is Fitz!

Go Fitz!

We love you to loves Haddie!

Love,

Mama

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