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Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Our one year mark...Happy Birthday Brayden

So many times these last few months I have wondered what I’d say on the day of Brayden’s birth - the day of his death. I imagined I’d write something that came from the depth of my soul, something powerful, insightful or profound. I don’t think I’m going to do any of that today.

My time with my son was limited, but I like to think I knew him better than anyone could have known him. So here are the things that I know about my son that I hold close to my heart.

Brayden was born on September 22, 2009 at 6:32 p.m. He was 8 lbs 9 oz and 21 inches long. He had tons of brown hair that I would have hoped turned thick and wavy like his father’s, but would have most likely stayed stick-straight and fine like mine. He had my hands, my nose and my mouth…but undeniably daddy’s face. Those chipmunk cheeks came straight from John. So did his tiny ears.

We were in love with him the moment we knew we carried him. Double that for John when he found out we were having the first boy in the family to carry on his name. A son. Someone he could watch grow up to be the kind of man he was – good, kind, honest and loyal. Nicholas was finally going to have the sibling he’d been wanting for years. The perfect baby to round out our family.

Brayden did that - he completed us. He was everything we ever wanted or hoped for, save for the fact that his stay with us was terribly brief. Stillborn, but born still.

Today, I feel no resentment. I refuse to today - it would ruin it. For the first time since we lost him, I can cry and it’s nothing but pure sadness. There’s no confusion, no anger, no bitterness at what we’ve lost. There are no questions as to why. I can shed tears without the silent apologies I offer to Brayden or the secret guilt and shame I feel from his loss.

Today, I’m simply a mother who has lost her child and it’s that simple. It’s not gut wrenching, I don’t feel like my soul is ripping or even that I have a build up of grief that needs to be purged. Without the silent accusations in my head, the sadness I feel isn’t consuming and it’s almost…peaceful. A peaceful sadness…who would have thought?

At the same time, I can’t help but to think - at around this time last year, John would have passing out those little blue bubblegum cigars at work and pulling out that wonderful hospital pic from his wallet. I would have been wondering what to dress Brayden in for Halloween – the infant pea costume I thought was cute, but wasn’t fitting for a boy according to John. Thanksgiving would have been spent with family, and we had looked forward to seeing Brayden’s eyes light up watching the lights on the Christmas tree.

By our anniversary in February…we’d be ready for a sitter ☺

By today, had he lived, he would most likely be taking his first steps. I’d be anxiously waiting for him to say ‘ma-ma’ and be secretly jealous when he said ‘da-da’ first, knowing in my heart John must have been secretly bribing him behind my back. We would have had a wonderful summer, with John toting him around as any proud father would…still gagging over dirty diapers and probably have gotten to where he could pass all of those to me without me realizing it…or pretending I don’t.

He would have had his first haircut. He would be blowing kisses. Bubbles would still be entertaining, and he would be tormenting the dog and cat by pulling on their tails and ears every chance he got. He would be aging his parents horribly by putting everything he could find in his mouth and hurling himself with reckless abandon towards the stairs. He’d be sleeping peacefully through the night.

John and I would have had hectic lives – between karate practice, homework, soccer, jobs, home, daycare, bedtimes and naps. We knew it and we welcomed it. I’m devastated none of it happened like we planned. Sometimes, life just isn’t fair.

In a way, this last year hasn’t been without our little man. We’ve remembered him every step we took without him. He was there in the sense that he was missed. As painful as it was, our lives moved forward with him gone. He was with us in our hearts, and always will be. I still love him deeply, and wish he were here with us…that will never change.

Living without Brayden has been painful, and moving on with our lives has been even more so. You don’t read that in the books. How do you move on when you’ve lost a child? Life moves on whether you want it to or not…you can move with it or it will leave you behind, which is a death within itself. Brayden wouldn’t have wanted us to have life pass us by simply because he couldn’t join us in it.

I’m not saying an official goodbye to Brayden today – that won’t ever happen. But starting today, as a gift to Brayden (and myself) on his birthday, I’m letting go. No more anger or guilt or questions. No blame. No more ‘I’m sorry’. Just simply loved and missed, for the rest of our lives.

Happy birthday, Brayden. Although this is not how I envisioned spending your first year, it doesn’t change how much we love you. Your family misses you terribly, little man.


  1. This is beautiful. Thank you for sharing your reflections on the past year and the beautiful life of your son.

  2. Written straight from the heart. :) Happy first Birthday Brayden! I'm thinking of you both today :) Hugs, Andrea

  3. Awww... you are soo good expressing the EXACT things I feel, but can never put into words!! Of course, I cried, BUT I'm sure you knew that would happen. I love your peacefulness. I'm sure Brayden is bragging about his mommy and daddy in heaven right now--- He's probably having the best birthday party in Heaven! I've been thinking of you all day. Hope your day went well.

  4. As I sit here reading this and bawling, I am crying for you today, I am crying with you today, and we have cried together many times together and me for you silently by myself. I still cannot believe everything you have been through and our hours worth of phone calls and conversations. And I cannot believe today is the day, seems like time has gone so fast yet so slow. I want you to know how proud I am of you. You have come so far. You are stronger than you know and you are completely right Brayden wouldn't want mommy to be so sad. Brayden would want mommy to go on with life with love, loss, life, and new members to come. Brayden will never be lost, always be missed, always be loved but he will never be forgotten. Happy 1 year old Birthday/Angelversary little man... You are loved. Dawn, You are so strong. You are a wonderful wife, mother, and friend. Don't ever change and I hope with this promise to Brayden and yourself you can smile and laugh more often, be more carefree and light of heart reminiscant of days from the past.
    love you... ang

  5. Just wanted you to know I'd been thinking about you in the last month...feeling many of the same feelings and sending you my prayers.