Did you struggle?

Haddie Bo Bo,

This morning your brother woke me up.  I made him a bottle and fed him in bed while watching a Hallmark Christmas movie.  When he was done and changed his diaper and got him dressed in his Michigan gear for the big game.  Daddy was still asleep beside us.  I then decided I was going to put away the clothes I brought up in the laundry basket last night.  I took my blankets off the side of my bed and pushed the pillows away.  We have a king size bed so there is a lot of room.  I laid Fitz there in the middle so he could watch the fan and me as a walked around the room.  The only blankets I use for Fitz is a Aden and Anais breathable blanket.  The only way I use it for him is for tummy time or as a burp cloth.  I had two towels in my basket that I needed to put away.  So I left my bedroom and went into the bathroom that is next door.  I put the towels in the closet.  I noticed in the bathroom that Elo had left some food wrappers and other stuff that needed to be thrown away.  So I threw them away and put some other things back in their places in the bathroom next to my room.  It had only been about 60-90 seconds that I had left the room.  Fitz start to fuss, then started to make this gulping, gasping sound.  I went back into the bedroom and his head was completely covered by the smaller blanket I use when I sleep.  It’s technically a baby blanket.  I ran over and pulled the blanket off his head.  His face was red.  He was scared.  He was struggling to get this blanket off his head.

I felt immediate guilt.

Although I had cleaned off the bed and put everything out of his reach (or so I thought) he was still able to move and cover himself.  This happened so quickly.  Your Daddy was still asleep he didn’t hear him.  Which I do not blame him.  I wouldn’t expect him too.  It just shows how quickly these moments can happen.  I had no intentions of leaving him on the bed alone.  I just left the room for a “quick second”.  I was in the room with him the whole time beside that one moment.  That’s all it took.

I picked him up and said, “I’m sorry. I’m sorry.”  Over and over with tears in my eyes.  It’s my job to make sure he is safe to protect him from these moments.  Even with everything I know about #safesleep I still made a mistake.  So many parents think what happened to us, to you, won’t happen to them.  Well this moment proves that it can.

How many parents have these near misses during the day?

How many times are we one moment away from a tragedy?

My mind can’t go there.  At least I try to not let it.  Did you struggle?  Did you gasp for air?  Did you gulp?  Did you cry and scream?  I picture you laying there just like Fitz was and struggling.  But no one came to your rescue that day.  No one pulled the blanket off you, picked you up, and told you, “I”m sorry.”

I’m so sorry Haddie.  So sorry that you were robbed of this life.  That no one rescued you.  That we failed you.

Now I feel haunted today.  These images in my head.

I will go take a Xanax now.

Please forgive us Haddie.


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I feel you slipping away from me

Haddie Bo Bo,

I feel it.  I feel you slipping away from me every day.  Sometimes I don’t realize it.  Other moments it slaps me in the face and I am consumed with guilt, hate, and sadness.  Life does go on and sometimes I despise it for that reason.  In many ways I am still with you.  Back when you were here.  I am still in those horrifying moments after I heard those words, “Your daughter has passed away.”

The other day I drove past that road.  The road where you took your last breath.  I looked down that road.  The road that I turned down twice a day for over a year.  I haven’t gone back.  I wish I was still going down that road twice a day.

I also drove past the “Island Express” or something like that.  It’s a convenience store in Zeeland.  This is where your Daddy had pulled over when he found out that you died.  Images were flashing through my head as I drove by in what seemed like slow motion.  What he must have looked like sitting there in his car.  How excruciating the pain must have been.  How helpless he must of felt.  He was alone.  He could only hear me screaming on the phone.  He was powerless to help me…to help you.  He was only 15 minutes away from picking you up…

I just don’t understand this thing called life.  Nothing makes sense really.  I wish my only problems in life where the bigger better house to buy.  Or what my family will wear for family pictures.  Why do some families go through life with no tragedies while others live in the storm day in and day out.  I have two really good friends that constantly struggle with infertility.  They deserve a child yet after years and years of trying…nothing.  While others have an “oops”.  A big “oops” like still on birth control “oops”.  Or the teenage girl that has sex for the first time and gets pregnant.

I found a quote that really describes my reality these days.  I found it on instagram and it is by a mother who has also lost a child.  “My biggest challenge is while everyone else is here, I”m still there with you.” -afterchloe

My body is here in the moment.  Sometimes I am here in the moment.  But many times I am there with you.  In THOSE moments.  But I feel like ever so gradually I am more here than there…and I feel you slipping away from me.

Come back to me Haddie…please.


Love you forever.  I will fight for you.


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The good moments

Haddie Bo Bo,

This morning I was laying in my bed holding your brother.  He was smiling and laughing at me, warming my heart.  It was a special moment just me and him.  It was a good moment.  I look in his eyes and I see you.  I was holding his little hands and thinking about how I used to do this with you.  I play a lot of the same games with him as I did with you.  What will I do when he turns 10 months?  When he walks?  When he says “Mama”?  These are things that I never got to do with you.  What about when he turns 1 and we celebrate his 1st birthday?  How will that feel?

Yesterday we celebrated your sister’s birthday.  The gym was filled with so many friends and family that love us and support us.  People that love you and remember you.  It was so amazing to see all these little people running around with super capes and masks having the time of their life!  This moment was good.  It felt good.  Great Grandma came to the birthday party and we got a picture of the great grandkids with her.  It happened so fast that I forgot to include you somehow in this picture and I am sorry.  Life moves so fast and sometimes I forget to include you.  As I write these words I am overcome with emotions and guilt.  I don’t want to live in a world that I am slowly forgetting you.  I know that I will NEVER forget.  But its strange how these moments happen and if you were here I would never in a million years forget to put you in the picture.

After the party your Daddy and I went out to celebrate our anniversary.  We went to see the Dierks Bentley concert.  It was truly a country party and I loved it.  This moment was good.  After the concert we were driving home and your Daddy said, “We have been married for 6 years.  Elo is 4.”  That’s pretty much all we said about that.  I can’t say that these 6 years of marriage has been easy.  We have had many many “good” moments.  I can absolutely recognized the blessings we have in our lives.  But these 6 years have had many sorrowful moments.  But when we dedicated you at church I wrote you a letter.  I read you this letter and it was full of love, full of our hopes and dreams for you, but it was also honest.  Now when I read this letter its a challenge to me and as your Aunt Rachel said at your funeral it is like you are now reading it to me….

1 Peter 1:3-5

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade-kept in heaven for you.”

Exodus 14:14

“The Lord will fight for you; you only need to be still.”

To our bright-eyed Hadley Sue:

Never in a million years did we think we would have a bright blue-eyed baby girl! If Mama didn’t pull you out herself we wouldn’t think you were ours. In this short time that you have blessed our family you have brought us incredible happiness.   You have a sweet spirit that compliments your sister’s sassy spiciness in a way that only God could have planned.

As your parents we want to give you the world and the moon too! Although no matter how hard we work we will probably fall short on that wish for you. One thing that we can give you and will spend every day trying is a loving, God centered family. We aren’t perfect and we will make mistakes. We can promise you a life of experiences, adventures, love, laughs, and sadly sometimes tears.

We have prayed for you since before we even knew there was going to be a “you”. We will breath our last breaths praying for you. Our first prayer for you is always that you will grow up falling in love with our Savior and choosing to fearlessly follow Him. We hate the thought of you experiencing hurt, and if we could remove that from your life we would in a second.

One thing I can guarantee you is that there will be moments in life that you will hurt. You will suffer. You will ask God why. We pray that during those times you cling to the promises that God has given you. Claim them. No matter what your hurt is God’s plan is always sweeter than you could have imagined. No matter what happens in your life remember that it’s your story. God gave it to you and He wants you to tell it!

We love you sweet baby girl. You and your sister are so very special to us. Living life with you is our greatest joy.

Living life with you was our greatest joy…living life without you is truly our greatest sorrow.  I try everyday to live that line, “No matter what happens in your life remember that it’s your story.  God gave it to you and He wants you to tell it!”

Love you baby,


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I pretend

Haddie Bo Bo,

So I have been taking this anti-depressant and lately I have been feeling different.  I feel happier, more content, hardly crying ever.  I find that I think about you, almost like reflection.  In the past I would think about you and start to cry….and then sob.  I have also found that I try not to think about you.  I’m sorry I know that sounds horrible.  But sometimes I just can’t go there.  I don’t know if it’s the medicine or me.  I feel more numb these days.  It’s so hard to describe.  I know that I have been more content, but then I get mad at being content.  So I don’t know if I will continue to take it….I’m still undecided.

September was Safe Sleep awareness month and it was a busy month for me.  I tried to talk about this topic as much as possible.  We had your 5k and I did a news interview for Fox 17.  When I see pictures of the race and the interview I still can’t believe that is our story, our life.  In many respects you are becoming the face of safe sleep.  Which I am so happy about.  I see your face on posters, websites, tv segments and I am so very proud of you.  You have saved lives and continue to do so.

We are about to celebrate Elo’s 4th birthday.  One of her presents is a big picture of you and her.  We have a picture of you blown up on canvas in our bedroom and Elo said, “I want a big picture of Haddie in my room.”  So that is what she will get.

We just got back from vacation in South Carolina.  We had a fabulous time with friends that are like family.  One day we were walking to the park and it just happened to be the 2nd of the month (1 year and 4 months since you died).  Elo started talking about you.  She said, “Haddie is in heaven.  Let’s go see Haddie in heaven.”  I was quiet I just couldn’t respond at that moment.  I want more than anything to see you.  Aunt Alisa stepped in and had a great conversation with Elo about God coming back for us so we can all go see you together.  Yes we have been on a lot of vacations or getaways.  I feel like I have to look forward to something.  So I plan trips.  I get excited to go, and be distracted, and maybe pretend that my life is something it’s not.  If only for a few days.   If I am honest I do a lot of pretending.  Pretending to be ok.  Pretending that I am happy when I am not. Coming home is always the hard part.  Coming back to reality.  The reality that you aren’t here and life is hard.

You will always take my breath away.





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Be Brave-I breathe because you can’t

Haddie Bo Bo,

It’s been awhile since I have written.  There has been a lot going on.  One being your brother who likes to occupy both of my arms most of the day, and that makes it hard to type.  He looks so much like you.  Especially now that he flashes a huge grin.  There are times where he looks so much like you that I have to look away.  Sometimes it makes me cry.  I have tried to tell him about you many times and I cry.  He also looks a lot like you when he is sleeping, but not in a good way.  Your Daddy has said it too that when he sleeps he looks like that last time we saw you.  You weren’t alive.  So then we poke him and make him show us that he is alive.

Another reason it’s been awhile is that we had our first annual Every Child Wakes Up 5k.  It was wildly successful.  There were a few glitches that we will fix for next year but over all it was great.  So many people showed their support by sponsoring, volunteering, running, walking, etc.  They came from as close as next door and as far away as Los Angeles, California.  My vision for this event was to celebrate your life and raise awareness about safe sleep.  I can’t tell you how weird it is to see your name on flyer and banners.  To see your face on tv is the strangest thing.  I believe that if you were alive, being on TV or the center of attention wouldn’t be your first choice.  But since you have passed you have become known.  You represent something, your face, your story.

On the race course there was quit a steep hill.  I struggled to walk up the hill.  One friend said that as she was huffing and puffing up the hill that she almost gave up.  But then she said that she remembered why she was doing this race.  She did it for you Haddie.  She kept breathing because you couldn’t.

Another friend posted the following on facebook:

This was such a fun run for an amazing cause. There were times during the run when I questioned why I was doing this…mostly when I was trying to make it up that HUGE hill…but my mind quickly remembered sweet Haddie Sue and I would run up 100 hills to honor her! So proud of you Sandy for all you do to honor Haddie and to raise awareness to others. 💜💜💜

This brought tears to my eyes.  Many times in my new life, life without you, I wonder why am I still doing this.  It can be so hard and hurt so much.  So many times if I am honest I find myself wanting to give up.  Not wanting to wake up the next morning, or just waiting for bed time so I can go to sleep and find some peace.  But it’s in times like these that I have to choose to honor you by living.  I have to breath because you can’t.  I have to make it up that hill for you.  I have to choose to be brave.  Everyday.  For you, for Elo and Fitz, for me.  My friend gave me this bracelet the day of the race and it means so much to me.  It reminds me that I have to choose to live bravely and that is how I honor you.


I figured out the numbers today and the Every Child Wakes Up 5k raised $5900.  That is 639 sleep sacks.  That is 639 lives that can be saved.  It is 639 times that I can share your story and hopefully prevent a family from experiencing our pain.

I love you so much.  I will fight for you everyday.



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(Today) I hate EVERYTHING

Haddie Bo Bo,

Grief is hard.  Sometimes I just have one of those days where I HATE EVERYTHING.  There is no specific memory of you that I am holding on to today.  There isn’t a certain thing I can point to that is setting me off….it’s just life.  I am irritable and there isn’t a Zoloft dosage high enough to pull me out of this feeling.  There aren’t enough bottles of wine to drink that will make me forget that this is my life.

I hate my house and how there are toys everywhere.  No matter how many times I pick them up they always are scattered everywhere.  I hate how disgusting my dogs are.  They smell, they shed, the poop, they puke, and it’s gross.   My house always feels gross.  There isn’t enough bleach in the world to make it not seem gross to me.  I look around at the piles of laundry and feel completely overwhelmed.  There are clothes draped over our kitchen chairs that need to be hung.  There are 3 baskets of clothes that need to be put away.  There are clothes in the washer and dryer and I think they have been in there for days and need to be rewashed.  There are dirty clothes all over the floor of the living room from where Elo decides she wants to be naked and throws them.  There are always dishes in the sink, on the counter, in the dishwasher that need to be attended too.  I feel like all hope is lost for a “clean” pottery barn looking house.  I load and unload the dishwasher on average 3 times a day.

The baby cries all the time. It is a rarity if he is awake and not crying if he is not eating or being held.

I hate that I have no patience.

I hate talking.  I hate talking to your Daddy.  I hate talking to Elo.  I hate being asked “What’s Wrong?”.  I hate talking to the random people I encountered today.  I would like to lock myself in a dark room and watch Netflix for days on end and not make any contact with the outside world.

I hate how I look.  I hate how I feel in my clothes.  I hate that I crave ice cream all the time.

I hate that I feel pressured to take a medicine that makes me “nicer” to people.  I think that sometimes I don’t want to feel better.  I hate that feeling happy makes me feel sad.  Recently I hate looking at your pictures.  I see your smile and I feel like a failure.

There isn’t a Bible verse to be read that will make me feel better, not alone, not angry.

Today I feel like existing is hard.  Today I am angry.  I know this won’t last forever and I will feel differently soon.  Maybe in an hour, maybe tomorrow, or maybe just after I write you this letter.  Usually that makes me feel better and allows me to be able to get on with my day.

I hate the judgement that I will get from writing out these feelings.

Lastly I hate this life without you.


Your very disgruntled Mama

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Wedded Bliss

Haddie Bo Bo,

This past weekend we attended a family wedding.  As your Daddy and I were driving to the reception I was thinking about how this young couple has a whole life ahead of them.  It’s such a happy and exciting time for them.  It made me think back to my wedding day and the feelings I had.  I was so positive and so excited to build a life with your Daddy not knowing the joys and the tragedies that we would experience.  If I am honest I never thought about the bad things that could happen to us on that day.  I thought about the kind of life I wanted to live not the what if’s.

I turned to your Daddy and asked, “Would you still have married me if you knew everything that we would have to go through?”

He responded without hesitation, “Yes”.

He went on, “Losing Haddie is the worst thing that ever happened to me, but having Haddie is one of the best things that have ever happened to me.  Even if I knew she would only be here 9 months I would never erase the memory.”

That’s exactly how I feel too.  Would life be easier if this had never happened to us and erase it all?  Yes.  But I wouldn’t give up knowing you for anything.  I would have you die all over again so I could see you live.  It’s hard to put into words but I’m going to try.  You were a baby, you didn’t talk yet, but you still were your own person.  You had the sweetest personality and the kindest spirit.  Wrapped up inside of you was a lifetime of hopes, dreams, goals, mistakes, and experiences.  It’s hard for me to come to terms  with the fact that you were here and part of our family and now you are gone.  We won’t get those moments back and we won’t see everything you were supposed to be.

I started taking an anti-depressant recently.  Daddy says I am nicer to him.  But I haven’t cried since I started taking them.  I don’t like that.  I feel numb…grieving you is my only connection to you.  Yes life goes on (I hate that phrase)…but I never want to not feel connected to you.  I see glimpses of you when I look at Fitz but it’s not enough….it’s never enough.


I love you…always.


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I hate birthdays.


Haddie Bo Bo,

Your birthday came and went.  I think I have mentioned this before but when I was pregnant with you all my friends were pregnant too.  So your birthday is surrounded by your friends birthday parties too.  I really wish I could see you play with them and how you would interact.  All of your friends came to help us celebrate your birthday.  That morning I woke up with tears as I fed your brother.  The time leading up to your party was stressful.  Your Daddy and I had some tense interactions, but I think we both realized it was because of our grief for you and what that day means.  But once your party started the day got better.  We swam in the pool, grilled hamburgers and hotdogs, and of course had cake and ice cream.  Your sister was so excited to celebrate your birthday!  She couldn’t wait to blow out your candles, “Mama can I blow out Haddie’s candle’s?  She can’t because she’s in heaven.”  I asked Elo what kind of cake you would want and she said, “A heart cake”.  So that’s what we got for you.  Singing Happy Birthday to you was more than I could handle so I listened to everyone else sing as I let the tears come.  So many people remembered you on your birthday.  We received sweet messages, flowers, meals, donations in your honor, and we were so grateful.  The greatest gift is that they remembered you.

We had asked guests to bring a toy or book to donate in your honor.  So last week I put tags on all the gifts that included your picture and your story.  I drove them to the Holland Rescue mission to drop them off.  I met with the Daycare worker there and I explained what I had brought.  She said, “You’re Sandy Bromley right? You brought gifts last year too.  I have been meaning to send you pictures of the little girl we gave some of the gifts too.”  I cried.  I am so glad that we could bless a little girl who needed it.  I also donated several Haddie Sleep Sacks to the babies that stay at the mission.  I left the shelter and cried all the way home.  Why couldn’t you be here to open your gifts?  Why am I doing this?  It’s not fair.  But if you can’t be here then I am glad to share your story and help others.

So we have found out that your brother may look like you but his disposition is much more like your sister Eloise.  He is loud.  He likes to he held and have attention.  He hasn’t given us much sleep yet.  But we are loving him and getting to know him more.  Your Daddy and I were talking in the car about just how much we miss you.  We miss your sweet personality and big toothy smile.  I miss holding you and cuddling you in the morning.

Here are some pictures from your birthday!

IMG_3459 IMG_3460 IMG_3461 IMG_3470 IMG_3471 IMG_3480

love you so much.  I hate birthdays without you.




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Why am I praying this?

Haddie Bo Bo,

It’s been awhile since I have written you.  I’m sorry.  It’s not that I haven’t thought about you daily…or every time I breath.  I told your daddy that I have felt like I have been neglecting you because of baby Fitz.  He said that he thinks of you more now that Fitz it here.  Every time he cries, moves, breaths, it reminds him of you.  It is crazy how much he looks like you.  People have shown us so much love in the last couple of weeks.  They have brought us gifts and meals and really spent time loving on us and we are beyond grateful.


Haddie is on the right. Fitz is on the left.
Elo is on top, Fitz bottom left, and Haddie bottom right.

Today has been 14 months with out you.  I miss you.  Yesterday we went to Target and shopped for your birthday on Thursday.  I never got a chance to celebrate a birthday with you.  You know how much I love planning a birthday party.  So I did that for you.  I pinned ideas for your party on Pinterest.  We shopped for party supplies.  Tomorrow I will make some decorations.  But all of it makes me cry. Who ever thought I would have to plan a party for my daughter who is dead.  That should never ever happen.  It hurts me deep in my soul, in my being, in my heart of hearts.

I keep thinking about bringing Fitz home and how I should feel complete.  Our family should feel complete.  But it’s not.  There is a gaping hole and nothing fills it.  Completeness doesn’t exist.  Many may think I am being ridiculous by saying that or it’s depressing.  But it’s the reality of my life.  The one thing I am at peace with in my life is exactly that.

A friend who has also lost a child wrote a post on Facebook about a dream she had.  In her dream her son visited her.  Why do you never visit me in my dreams?  Some mothers write about feeling their child’s presence or feeling them close to them.  How come I can never feel you or sense your presence?  The 2 dreams I have had about you have been about your death.

I found myself praying for Fitz’s safety the other night. It was the middle of the night and I was praying that he would continue to breath throughout the night.  In the middle of this prayer I stopped and asked myself or God, I’m not really sure, why am I praying this?  I prayed everyday that God would keep my girls healthy and safe and it didn’t work.  God chose to let you breath your last breath, to not keep you safe.  After this thought entered my mind I couldn’t seem to finish my prayer.  Then I felt guilty for not finishing the prayer and for doubting.  But I still didn’t finish it.

Tomorrow we celebrate you, and your life.

Love you today and always,


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Fitzgerald “Fitz” Penn Bromley

Haddie Bo Bo,

Last Saturday we welcomed your brother Fitzgerald Penn Bromley.

My doctor was off this week because of the holiday and I was scheduled to see a different doctor.  I was not thrilled about this.  In fact I made it clear to anyone who would listen that I wasn’t going to go to the appointment.  So Friday came around and your Daddy was insistent that I go.  So we packed up Elo and drove to Grand Rapids for this appointment.  When we got into the office my blood pressure was high.  The doctor did her other checks and then took my blood pressure again and it was still high.  She sent me immediately over to the hospital to be induced.  WOW.  I was not prepared for that.  So around 10:30am I was rolled into labor and delivery with your sister on my lap.  We were in for a long day and all I could think was I should have eaten more for breakfast and I haven’t pooped in 2 days….  They didn’t start an IV until around 2:30 so labor didn’t start until around 6:30.  I watched the Gymnastics Olympic trials while I pushed and at 12:00am on the dot Fitz was placed on my chest.  We had a wonderful experience.  I had the best labor and delivery nurse who stayed 3 hours past her shift to help with delivery.  My first question after he came out was, “Is he still a boy.”  I loved him right away.

We went upstairs to our hospital room and got settled.  About 12 hours or so after delivery I was nursing Fitz and he started to spit up or so I thought.  Then clear liquid started draining like a fountain from his mouth and nose.  I sat him up and tried to clear his airway. He had put his head all the way back and wasn’t breathing.  Your daddy rushed over took him and tried to get him to breath.  He was turning blue, veins popping out of his neck, and clearly struggling to get air.  I called for the nurse and it seemed like it took forever for her to come.  By the time she came I was legitimately freaking out.  She took Fitz and suctioned his air way and beat on his back and soon he was breathing again.  She kept saying he is ok and I screamed through my tears, “He’s not ok!”  I looked at your Daddy and he too was upset. It’s been awhile since I have seen that look in his eyes. But Fitz was ok and it was amniotic fluid from his lungs.  I just couldn’t stand watching my child struggle.  I couldn’t stop thinking about you.  You died alone.  Suffocated alone with no one to rescue you.  I explained to the nurse how you had died and she understood my intense reaction.  She kept trying to hand Fitz back to me but I was scared to take him.  I almost sent him to the nursery.  I was doubting my ability to keep him safe…keep him alive.  After this I was mad.  It ruined my day.  I cried many tears for you.  You didn’t deserve what you got.  You shouldn’t have been alone.  Why did this happen to our family?

It has been easy to love Fitz.  It has also been easy to be mad that you aren’t here to meet him and terrorize him.  He is a good mix of Elo and you.  I think he might have your blue eyes.  When we came home from the hospital Elo greeted us at the door and she was so excited.  But you weren’t there…

It’s amazing how something so alive can come out of a place that has felt so dead the past year.  I am still not ok with it.  I will never be ok with it.  I love you Haddie and you should be here with us.  This is where you belong.  Your Daddy said it best with his facebook post.






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