Monday, July 27, 2015

Remembering Bradley - His 4th Birthday

Four years ago, we were expecting our fourth child. Everything was set for him to come into our lives. We had three children between the ages of 8 and 2. Two girls and one boy. When we found out the midwife was suspecting a boy, we were so over joyed at our “perfect life” that was falling into place. We had been sealed in the temple. We were active at church. We both had callings and knew the lord loved us and we felt like we had earned this perfect life that we had built together.

In the early morning on July 20th, 2011, Bradley was born. Our son had arrived and he completed the perfect picture we had been painting. But as soon as I saw his tiny, weak body,  I knew his life would not be as long or as healthy as my other children’s lives. He weighed in, full term, at only 4lbs 8 oz. The midwife looked him over and said he looked small but she could not see any defects she could clinically recognize. She made sure we were stable and instructed us to make sure he ate and to see the pediatrician within a 24 hour period.

Off to the pediatricians we took our tiny, frail son. The pediatrician said he looked very weak and said he should go to the NICU. As we turned our son over to the hospital, he was admitted into the ICU and quickly his health began to decline. Doctors were unsure of his condition but in a rushed surgery they saved his life with a central line. The central line ensured their ability to test him for his aliments. And they discover a thyroid issue that was causing his inability to thrive. They put him on some thyroid medication and ran some more tests and soon discovered his brain was having seizures and that was causing him feeding issues and developmental delay. After eight long first weeks of life he was released from the hospital, because his health was stable enough to go home. We were told the prognosis was unsure. His development would be the test that would tell us if he would live or not.

Time passed. He started rolling. But he never could hold up his head. He verbalized. He cooed. We loved his sweet spirit in our home. Light surrounded our special son who was surely a gift from heaven. The work it took to keep him healthy, was something I had never experienced. Medications around the clock. Feeding tubes. Transferring his weak, yet growing body, to daily doctor appointments and therapies. And then at 8 months old the seizures reared their ugly head and he suffered with more than 20 seizures a day. Seizure medications were adjusted to keep them at bay; but they never went away. He was left in a near vegetative state most of the day. Unable to breath, oxygen was added to his routine to keep him alive and living more comfortably. His development stopped. He regressed in his milestones.
All the while my other children continued to grow and need me too. To say I was tired was an understatement. And when Bradley turned 18 months old, when he started nursery, he was also admitted into hospice care. End of life care for a tiny child.


And the doctors came to our home and added morphine to his routine to keep him comfortable while he was passing into the next life. And for 9 months I held him while he died. The poor lifeless child that no doctor could save. He had a degenerative brain disease and the brain could not be fixed.

And one day on September 7th, 2013, he did finally pass and become the angel that I knew he would be the first time I held him. And I buried his tiny body, in a tiny box, in a tiny grave.

Since that time there have been sad and dark days for sure. 

But sometimes I still do feel joy.
Everything I miss and will miss about having Bradley here on earth with us, will come back to us tenfold because of the atonement.
It’s not something I completely understand.
Some days it’s hard to understand it because of my grief; but just by saying it and bearing testimony to you now, I know it is true that not one hair will be lost. That ALL will be restored to us. 

We did everything right. We made all the preparations to be with him again someday. And now I work daily to keep those covenants so that I can have him again. He keeps me going. The thought of being with my son again, keeps me going. I am so blessed to have held him for a long as I did. He truly is my angel, who I know so personally, and who can and is, guiding me home.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Bradley's Christmas Bears

A few weeks ago, I had a dream.
And in the dream a voice asked me if I could make stuffed bears from
 Bradley's Clothes for the kids for Christmas.
And I got very excited when they asked.
I told them, I knew that I could.
I can make anything out of anything. 

And I woke up and searched the internet for a pattern.
And I pulled down Bradley's bucket of clothes 
and Tom asked what I was doing.
And I told Tom the idea.
And Tom confirmed that would be a meaningful gift for the kids.

Today I finished the bears.
And the last one was the hardest.
I smelled the shirt again and again.
I thought about all the times when Bradley wore that shirt.
In our last family picture.
How little and big he was in that tiny shirt. 

And as I cut the pieces apart,
I suddenly didn't want to do it.
But I heard a voice say to me,
"Make something useful from my clothes. 
Don't let them just sit in that box. 
The kids will love these bears."

I've realized that I heard Bradley's voice in that dream and today in my craft room. 
I didn't recognize it because, 
I've not heard it much.
His voice sounds like a cross between Tom's voice and God's voice. 

I have hope that my biggest dream will come true someday.
That I will see my big, strong boy. 
And hear his voice again and again.
And he and I will laugh and talk for hours. 
And I will hug him and he will be able to hug me back. 
And we will finally be able to take a complete family picture again. 
And every hole will be filled. 

Sunday, July 27, 2014

A Mansion in Paradise

Bradley's spirit permeated our home when he was here.
Peace and calm.
Spirit and direction.
Promptings and help.
It has felt like chaos some days without him.
Some days I'm numb so that I can function.
Some days I'm sad and I do not function.

His third birthday came last weekend.
The grief came in hard waves all weekend long.
And no matter what we did, I had a hard time functioning and wanted to stay in bed.
But that didn't stop the party.
I love parties!
And Bradley sent me a party theme.
We had a paradise-party.
It reminded us all that he was safe in paradise.
We wore leis, sipped from island straws, ate cotton candy and set off orange balloons at his grave.
On Tuesday morning I reflected on what birthday gifts he was given in heaven.
I wish I could have sent him packages full of toys and candies.
But as I thought about it, I saw my Son sitting in his mansion in heaven.
Looking at his amazing view as he soaked up the sun by his pool.
Maybe he played a round of tennis in his courts with his friends,
 before he jumped in his gorgeous pool.
We toured some model homes last week; just for fun.
(We are NOT moving!)
And we toured a beautiful house that I cannot stop thinking about.
The theme of orange and butterflies was all through the d├ęcor.
I kept hoping it was a sign that we should purchase the house.
The house had an amazing view of the strip and was SO perfect for me!
But I realized that beautiful home was a sign from Bradley that he has a mansion in Heaven.
Better than the orange butterfly house on Horizon Ridge.
Way more grand.
Far more beautiful and expensive.
Bradley sent me a glimpse of his 3rd birthday gift to give me some hope.
To let me know he is safe in his heavenly home
 was the best thing he could have sent me for his Birthday.
I am surprised how he continues to send me perfect messages from heaven.
The signs continue to come, and he continues to help me look up to the heavens with hope.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

What If

I've been told that I'm not supposed to say, "What if..."
I'm not supposed to imagine if things had gone another way.
What is wrong with wondering if destiny had been different?
Tonight I want to go over the what-ifs.
Because next Sunday is Bradley's third birthday.
Because every time I get on facebook, his peers are celebrating their third birthdays,
saying adorable things, and being potty trained with m&ms.
And my three year old is missing.

So I'm going to play the what-ifs tonight.
I need to.
Because even though the what-ifs are sad,
they also help me imagine him again.
And to some degree they heal me.
IF Bradley had been born typical;
 His birthday would have been July 4th.
I had planned it that way.
And I know he would have come that night in 2011.
And on the 4th, this year, I wouldn't have watched the fireworks feeling numb.
I would have had his third birthday party instead.
He would have blown out his candles at the counter, surrounded by his cousins.
He would have stolen his baby cousin's binkis.
And he would have said the adorable things that 3 year old boys say.
And I would have changed his accident pants
 hoping that one day he would finally be completely potty trained!
And he may have kept me up that night telling me the firework sounds were scaring him.
I imagine he would have eventually fallen asleep between Tom and I.
And I could have held his chubby feet, while he slept.
And listed to him breath, and not gasp for air.
But calmly breath. In and out. Peacefully dreaming.

And the next morning he would have come down the stairs with messy hair and his belly showing.
And Jacob and Bradley would have jumped on the trampoline all day with the hose running.
And I would have made him a bowl of goldfish and grapes for lunch.
And he would have scraped his knees and asked for bandaids with tears in his eyes.

But my reality has been what has happened instead.
It's very bitter to think about sometimes.
I miss him every second of every day.
And I long for the day when I will see him whole.
But because he came the way he did,
sunsets will never be the same.
I receive pictures of orange skies all the time.
All. The. Time.
I love every single sunset I get.
Even the ones I don't see in person.
And sometimes I am okay with the destiny I got.
He could not have come any other way.
It would not have been Bradley.
It would have been someone else.
And I would never trade those hard 2 years of Bradley for a life time of a "normal" kid
That would mean I wouldn't have Bradley still.
And he is the one I want most desperately.
I cannot wait to see him again when my destiny is finally fulfilled and all is restored.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

The White Rose

My children have accomplished so much this school year.
So did my baby boy.
He made it into heaven.
Sweet memories are all I have of Bradley.
He was the most innocent child one could imagine.
This picture makes me laugh.
And this one makes me miss his afternoon naps in my arms.
After Bradley passed my Mom's coworkers gave us a gardenia tree.
Today I was outside thinking about what to do with the back yard
and I noticed a large, white, full bloom on the tree.
The first one.
The smell was amazing and reminded me of the sweet smell of Bradley's head.
I had the kids come and smell the flower.
And I noticed many more buds on the tree as well.
Bradley was so white and so pure.
White became a recurring theme in his life.
I suddenly became a fan of the color after his birth.
And now his white blooms are filling the air with his fragrance in my back yard.
And I want to tell you something else;
something that gives me comfort and makes me know he is an eternal being.
He and I still communicate!
Not the way we used to.
No more kissing or roars or hugs.
We send each other secret messages!
(I know that probably sounds crazy to the masses)
But I know he and I still have a very alive dialogue.
I leave little reminders of him every chance I get.
And he sends me sunsets and flowers and sky-scapes,
and other things too precious to mention.
And I'm keeping those things tucked in my heart.
And I carry my secret child with me always.
And no one can tell he's with me, but he is.
This poem was shared with me shortly after Bradley passed.
It's a special one.
The White Rose

All the earth's mothers were gathered together at God's Garden of flowers. Those beautiful budding spirits who would someday come to earth were nurtured and tended in the garden. A loving Father spoke to the Mothers, "See the works of my hands. Someday you will be the mothers to these radiant spirits." The garden glowed with the mixture of all kinds and colors. "Choose ye", he said.

Now in the east corner of the garden, pure White Roses stood as sentinals. They were not as colorful as the rest, but they glowed with a kind of purity which set them apart. one by one the mothers stepped forward. "I want the blue eyed, curly haired one, who will grow to maturity and be a mother in Zion." Yet another chose a brown eyed, brown haired boy, full of life and love, who would someday be a prince in a grand country. The garden buzzed with excitement as the others chose their speical spirits. Those whom they would soon welcome into the love and warmth of an earthly home.

Once again the loving Father spoke. "But who will take the White Roses? The ones in the East corner of my garden. These will return to me in purity and goodness. They will not stay long in your home, for I must bring them back to my garden. For they belong to me. They will gain bodies as was planned. You will miss them and long for them, but I shall personally care for them."

"No, not I." many said in unison. "I couldn't bear to give one back so soon", "Nor I.", said others. "We will take those who will remain and grow to maturity and live long lives." The loving Father looked out across the multitude of mothers with a longing in his eyes for someone to step forward and speak, Silence!

Then he said, "See the most pure and perfect of the white ones? I have chosen Him. He will go down and be a sacrifice for all mankind. He will be scorned, mocked, and crucified. He is mine own. Will not any one choose like unto him?" A few mothers stepped forward. "Yes, Lord I will." Then another, "Yes we will Lord." Soon all the pure White Roses were chosen and they rejoiced with their mothers. The Father spoke again, "Oh, blessed are ye who chose the White Roses. For your pain will be a heavy cross to bear. But your joy will be exceeding, beyond anything you can understand at this time." The White ones embraced their mothers, and so full was their purity and love, that it filled the mothers souls with such endearment that each knew she could endure the task.

And the greatest of the White ones gathered them as a hen gathers her chicks, and the outpouring of love surrounded each mother and child, consuming them as He prepared them for their task. And each mother who bore the weight of a White Rose felt the overwhelming love of God, as they all shouted, "Thy will be done." 

Sunday, May 4, 2014

This is Not the End

 The world will tell you that grief will never go away.
That grief is hard and impossible.
That relief from the grief is not possible.
And for a little bit I believed that.
I thought that I would never feel healed.
And sometimes I can return to that fearful place where the adversary seeks to drag me down.
But recently I realized there is a balm because healing IS possible.
And healing can happen.
And I can feel relief.
And I can have hope.
And so much happened between these two pictures.
So much changed in our family.
And the change was eternal.
This is not the end.
And Bradley is still here with us.
And his mission in heaven is to pull us towards it.
 I do not doubt.
I know it.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

The Last Child

Tonight we went to test drive cars.
I'm tired of driving an empty van.
I don't drive the kids to school.
And I no longer have my special son to put in and out of the van.
And when Charlotte gets in and out she does everything herself.
She started opening the door herself just this last week.
I cannot believe how big she is getting!
And everyday, loading her in and out of the van reminds me she is my last at home.
My plan was to have a little 3 year old boy at home with me for two more years.
When the plans changed to be a special boy,
I accepted that I might some day load him on the special bus in his wheel chair.
But now I'm expecting a very empty van next year.

You are supposed to spoil the last child home.
You are supposed to go to McDonalds and the park everyday the year before kindergarten.
But even doing those things is becoming painful for me.
Because it's a reminder that Bradley is not with us.
 I keep doing things to "fix" how I feel.
Play group. McDonald's dates.
 And today we even seriously talked about getting rid of the van.
We went and test drove a 4 door car.
I'm not sure how I feel about that.
Part of me thinks I will somehow be free from the past if I change cars.
Part of me will miss Bradley's van that fit his wheelchair with the automatic doors.
Grief is so confusing and because I'm a woman of action, I'm totally trying new things everyday.
But nothing changes the feelings of the loss.
The emptiness is still here all around us.

Tonight I told Tom I understand that I will be able to raise Bradley again someday.
I get that I will see all of his firsts someday;
But what I don't understand is what about the kids and what they have lost?
What about Jacob not getting to take his nightly baths with his brother?
And all of the hours of play that Jacob is missing out on with his brother.
Do we get a do-over for that too?
And Tom said he didn't know how that would happen exactly,
but he knows Jacob will get those experiences too.
I have to hope for that.
I have to have faith that we will get it all made up to us.
Faith that those beautiful giggles of play will be heard someday.
I cannot wait to hear them.