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.

Monday, February 24, 2014


Summer is coming.
The orders are flowing in.
I'm so busy and I love it!
I love making stuff for others on their special days.
Everyday is a chance to serve someone.
And I love that part of it too!

But tonight I got an opportunity I don't normally get.
The kids were out of lunch meat for their school lunches.
Our favorite is the sundried tomato turkey from Walmart's deli.
It's so good! It's worth the trip!
And I needed bottled water too.
So we all headed over to Walmart.
And after the shopping was over, we went out to the
parking lot and as we got close to the car a frightened lady approached us.
The first thing she said was,
"I don't want any money, but I need to feed my children tonight."

The spirit told me she was telling me the truth.
And I told her I had no cash and I could tell by the things she wanted that her wants were sincere.
She was really just trying to get some calories for her kids.
I'm usually too scared to talk to people in the parking lot.
I had a purse stolen once before in a walmart parking lot.
But I told the kids to stay with Tom and I took the lady inside to help her feed her family.

 I told her to get a cart.
And I could tell by the things she put in the cart that she was in fact telling the truth.
The grossest tuna. Dry pasta. The cheapest spaghetti sauce.
She picked up the generic raisin bran and she said it was filling so it was a good one.
I asked if she wanted a gallon of milk.
And she said that if she fed her kids fresh milk they wouldn't take the powdered later.
She said she adds sweetened condensed milk to the powdered milk and that helped it taste better.

I knew she was desperate.
She said tomorrow she would be able to get to the food bank,
but that she was very grateful for this little bit to help her get to tomorrow.
And she said her cats needed food and I should have insisted she got the food for her cats.
She told me her two cats helped her deal with the stress of her situation.
And I remembered all the nights Patches has climbed up on my bed
and snuggled with me since Bradley's been gone.
I choked back the tears and thought about Bradley.
 I thought about how many blessings I have.
How many times, I received help, because of Bradley, through the grace of God.

It was a sacred experience to help someone tonight.
An opportunity I don't normally get because of my fear.
But the spirit told me so strongly it was okay to help her.
And I helped her. And I'm glad I did.
I am not a perfect person.
I do not always help my brother.
But this was an opportunity, I'm glad I took.
I'm so grateful for everything I have.
And it gave me new eyes to see what I have been overlooking.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

The Glue

I keep getting the question of how I'm doing.
I'm not sure what to say, usually.
It's hard.
This is hard.
But not as hard as watching him die for 16 months.
He went into respiratory failure at the age of 10 months.
Watching him suffer through respiratory failure for 16 months was harder than this.
Much, much harder.
Both physically and emotionally.
Because no doctor could ever tell me exactly why Bradley was dying.
But at night I held my son while he struggled to breath.
Every time I kissed Bradley I wondered if it would be my last.
That was the hardest 16 months of my life.
And while I miss him terribly; the suffering is over.
Imagine someone on the edge of death for 16 months.
Imagine being the caregiver.
Imagine how well I sleep now.
Imagine how safe I know he is.

 I had a dream about Bradley the other night.
In the dream I took Bradley to visit a friend from high school.
She passed the summer before Bradley passed.
When I saw her in my dream, I took him out of the stroller
and I handed him to her so she could hold him and meet him.
And she stared at him for a while; then looked up at and me and said,
"He's a very special boy Mary!"
I told her I knew he was.
I woke up knowing they are together.
We went to our first funeral since Bradley's on Monday.
My great aunt. She was a very close sibling to my Grandma Wanda.
My grandma has been gone for 15 years.
And I've not had much contact with my great aunt since Grandma has been gone.
But we are family, so we were invited to the viewing.
When we walked in, my children really wanted to see her.
They were drawn to her and Charlotte almost jumped out of my arms and into the casket.
And then it came time to close the casket.
And her husband of 76 years was wheeled up to her to say his goodbyes.
His cries and love poured out of him.
He called her name again and again and told her how much he loved her.
And our tears flowed freely as we listen to the sobs of his love.
And when we followed the casket out of the relief society room,
 Jacob grabbed my hand and told me he understood how much my great uncle missed his wife.
Jacob said he wanted to talk to him and tell him he understood how he felt.

I wonder all the time, why my kids have to go through this.
Why do they have this experience of playing in the cemetery?
Even taking their friends there with them to visit their brother?
And showing their friends Bradley's funeral video slideshow!?!
It's so weird. Most 7 year old boys don't do that!
I'm starting to think that they are here to be an example to me.
To be examples to me of how to deal and cope with MY grief.
Miss him. Remember him. Cry about him.
And then get up and do what I was doing before.
I think that is what Bradley would want me to do too.
I love my kids.
I'm glad I've had each one of them.
I'm glad that Jacob and Charlotte and Maddy and I can hold hands through this.
And I think that was one of the reasons why God sent us Bradley.
Bradley came to glue us closer together.
To challenge us to become more.
And to help us stick together through it.


Saturday, February 8, 2014

I Have a Family Here on Earth

Bishop was inspired to take the young women
and young men to the Gilbert, Arizona Temple open house last weekend.
It was a wonderful trip.
When I returned home Tom and I celebrated our 12 year anniversary.
It's been 12 years of wedded bliss.
And 12 years of the hardest struggles I have ever had to face.
Have I mentioned that I'm a runner?
Well, I like to run from my problems.
And this latest problem, of losing my son, has made me want to knock down
what I've been building for the last 12 years and start over again. 
Somewhere else.
Somewhere new.
With people who don't remind me of Bradley.
Somewhere that the hole Bradley left wouldn't be so obvious.
It's been the most my relationship has ever been tried.
So I came home last weekend, feeling refreshed.
Feeling like I did want to be with my family forever.
And Tom and I decided we needed a little vacation alone as a family.
And what better a place to go than to the temple together?
So yesterday we packed the car and hit the road and traveled down to sunny Arizona.
And today we entered the undedicated House of the Lord with our children.
And as we got to the sealing room,
I picked up Charlotte and looked into the mirrors
with Tom and Maddy and Jacob beside me
and I realized that we are just the ones left here on earth.
That our family is more than just the five of us.
Our family reaches behind us and ahead of us.
And our family is going to be dynamic.
It's going to change.
More will be taken from us.
And more will be added to us.
And as long as we are sealed,
it doesn't matter who is still here on the earth and who is in Heaven.

And we then we went over to the Mesa Temple.
And the brides were numerous because it is a Saturday.
And all of the babies and grandparents were there too.
And I was reminded that I'm out of the having-baby-stage of life.
And I realized it is going quickly.
This life is just a moment.

And we went into the visitor center and watched a presentation about families being forever.
And after it was over the sister asked us what our favorite part was.
And Jacob said,
 "We have a baby brother who is in Heaven because his brain didn't work.
And I'm glad to know that families ARE forever.
It means so much to me because of my baby brother."

This trial. This hard thing. It was part of our plan.
I know it when I look at my children who hold hands so often.
I know it when I see the beautiful skies Bradley has painted me.
And I know it when I hear Jacobs beautiful testimony, that families are forever.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

The Man of my Dreams

I've been wanting to have a dream about Bradley, since his passing.
One where he comes to see me as a grown, perfect man.
A dream where he thanks me for taking such diligent care of him.
One where he tells me he's safe with Heavenly Father.
Where he tells me he doesn't have much time to talk because he has a great work to go do.
But the dreams about him have been few.
I had one about a week after he passed where I saw him crawling.
But last night I finally had another dream about him.

I was standing at the sink doing dishes.
I looked over to the ground behind the couch and I saw his pump.
It was running and he was laying on the ground being fed by his pump.
I was so happy to see him!!
I called to the kids and told them Bradley was home.
They came running to see him.
But they were not as excited as I had hoped.
Charlotte and Jacob told me they were starving and both started to cry.
I picked up Bradley and to my surprise he was easy to hold.
He hung onto my arms as I swung him around to sit on my hip.
He sat on my hip as I attended to the other children and their needs.
I worked hard to feed them all while Bradley happily hung on and watched.
By the time everyone was fed, I could finally sit down to enjoy Bradley.
My back hurt and my arms ached from hanging onto him.
It has been so long since I've held my baby.
And it felt alien to me.
I finally sat down and looked into Bradley's eyes and I suddenly thought,
"Why are you here? You are supposed to be in heaven!"
And suddenly he disappeared from my hands.
I was shocked by my thoughts.
And my arms ached to hold him again.
I woke up feeling those same aches.
And this evening I told Tom about the dream
and I cried as I recounted my guilt for telling Bradley to go to Heaven.
The last nine months of his life, I had wished for him to go there.
And now that he is there, I have these feelings that I want him to come back.
But I cannot have both.
I've never been able to have both with Bradley.
It was either stay in a broken body.
Or go to Heaven and finally be free of that body.
The conflict is so excruciating sometimes.
I feel so split in my personalities.
And Tom lovingly listened to my recount and said,
"Your dream shows that you've accepted God's will, Mary."
And I know why Bradley has not come back in a dream to thank me.
He doesn't need to.
He thanked me everyday when he brought his beautiful light into my home.
I was always being directed how to care for him.
So many whisperings of the spirit.
I do not need to be told that he is in Heaven.
I KNOW he is.
I know because of him that Heaven is real!
So why should he come to tell me?
He doesn't need to.
I'm grateful I got to hold him again;
 even if just for a moment;
even if just in a dream.
I remembered him perfectly.
And I think that is all that I needed right now.