When the World Forgets, I Will Remember

When the World Forgets, I Will Remember | Duluth Moms Blog

February 16th. It is the hardest day of the year. Every year. It is my son’s birthday. On this day, we celebrate my son’s short life. We pick out balloons and send them to heaven. We get a dessert, light a candle and wish Braden the happiest of birthdays. At some point during the day, I hide in my room and read the journal I wrote that contains a little over 3 months of precious memories. I bawl uncontrollably while looking at his baby scrapbook. And then I pull myself together and continue with my day, a day that to the rest of the world is just any other day.

This year, more than any other year, the gravity that to most people February 16th is just another day on the calendar hit me hard. Maybe it’s because of the length of time that has passed, it’s been 9 years now, but I feel like the world has forgotten my son.

I know there are plenty of people who knew and loved Braden. And I recognize and cherish all of the support and love they have given throughout the years. But this year, with the exception of my parents and my best friend, all of those people forgot my son on the one day I need recognition the most. I write this not to make any person in my life feel regretful or apologetic but rather because it is cathartic for me. Because otherwise the grief eats away at me and I will begin to resent it. Instead, I use this as an opportunity to ensure that the world will not forget the impact my son had and continues to have on my life and the lives of others.

 

My son saved my marriage. Having a child with a physical disability requiring medical monitoring and physical therapy truly made my husband and I confront our own issues in order to best meet the needs of our son. There were times after Braden was born that the D-word was thrown around because life was just that burdensome so we contemplated giving up. When I say we, it was mostly him. The reality that our son may never play basketball with his father in our driveway (among many, many, many other things) was excruciatingly hard for my husband to come to grips with. But I refused to give up on us.

My son was going to face so many challenges in life. Having divorced parents was not going to be one of them. I found us a counselor and we went to work on ourselves and our marriage. And it didn’t take long for us to rediscover all of the reasons we fell in love in the first place. This man completes me and I, him. This man was able to love me regardless of the fact that our son’s disability was genetically passed down from me which made me love him even more.  

I truly believe Braden was an angel sent from God to guide my husband and I. The night before Braden passed, as I lay with my head on my husband’s chest, I ask how he is feeling about us, our family, and our marriage. His response is that he is genuinely happy, and has a renewed sense of devotion to us and our family. I concur, falling asleep at peace with a dopey grin on my face. This is true love. The next day Braden was called back to heaven, his task complete.

So many of the choices we have made since that day have been a direct result of Braden’s time in this world. We set up a scholarship at Winona State University where my husband and I first met in Braden’s honor. Each year an undergrad is able to further his or her studies because of the generosity of our friends and family who have contributed over the years. The scholarship is endowed meaning Braden’s legacy will forever impact students at WSU.  

When the World Forgets, I Will Remember | Duluth Moms Blog

My husband decided to leave active duty military for an opportunity to complete a civilian residency. Had he not made that choice, we would not have moved to Maryland and would not have come into contact with the Genetics and IVF Institute, the clinic that would give us our twin daughters.  

If one of our daughters had not been born with a congenital heart defect, we wouldn’t have decided to return to my hometown in Minnesota. If we hadn’t moved to Minnesota we wouldn’t have met our foster son.  

I can go on and on about all of the choices we have made and the amazing people we have met over the past 9 years which are a direct result of Braden’s impact on our lives, but in the simplest terms, everything happens for a reason. And while the grief of losing a child is brutal at times, these are the lives we are supposed to lead. So lest the world forgets, the impact of one child’s short time on this earth, I will remember and I will ensure you do too.

When the World Forgets, I Will Remember | Duluth Moms Blog

8 Responses to When the World Forgets, I Will Remember

  1. Kathy K. April 28, 2017 at 8:12 am #

    I will never remember Braden’s birthday. I will always remember your moms post about it. I do not know his date of passing other than Memorial Day weekend. But I will always remember the tears in your dad’s voice to tell us that he was gone. I will also always remember your post. You said you had to believe God had a plan, it was the only way you could make sense of it. I am confident Gods entire plan has not been fully reviled yet. I do know, and have no doubts from your posts, you have grieved appropriately and admirably. Your grief will never end but your both your lives go on. You serve as great ambassadors to other parents who must take this journey.

    • Heather
      Heather April 28, 2017 at 8:39 am #

      Thank you Kathy for your words and your continued support. I can not express how much your continued expressions of love for me and my family mean to me. We are so blessed to have you in our lives.

  2. Josie April 28, 2017 at 9:44 am #

    February 16th is such a different day for you and I, but for the same reason. Our son’s share their birthday. It may seem as though the world forgets, but I think of you and Braden on that day, as I am so lucky to celebrate another year of Trevor being with us and I know you sadly aren’t able to have that same joy. I don’t say anything as you and I aren’t as close now as we once were in college, but thinking of Braden on his birthday reminds me to hug Trevor tighter and to savor all the little moments, even the difficult ones. So maybe there are more people remembering Braden on 2/16 than you might even realize. Maybe his reach does go further than eyes can see. Thanks for opening yourself, your life and your love to others. Your words are comforting, and your bravery inspiring.

    • Heather
      Heather April 28, 2017 at 9:55 am #

      Thank you Josie for these words and remembering my son. Thank you for letting me know that Braden’s memory lives on even when I don’t always see it. It warms my heart to know there are people like you keeping his memory alive by simply remembering to cherish your own children a little bit more. Thank you.

  3. Beth and Curt April 28, 2017 at 2:45 pm #

    As an Aunt & Uncle who do not see you very often, we want you to know that we think of your family often and when we do, we think of your son Braden also. We enjoy seeing your Facebook postings with your daughters and all of your family activities. We do not know much about your foster son, but with your big hearts he must feel loved. You are an exceptional young woman Heather and we are thankful your parents and good friend remember your loss with tenderness and support.

    • Heather
      Heather May 1, 2017 at 11:57 am #

      Thank you Beth and Curt! You words mean a lot to us. It warms my heart to know that others keep Braden in their thoughts. Lots of love to you both.

  4. Susan Santema April 28, 2017 at 7:25 pm #

    I’m so sorry that you lost your son and I can relate to how much his short life meant to you and your family. I have been there. I also understand your desire to keep his memory alive, for the blessing he is to you and to others. His life mattered. God bless you and please keep on remembering his special days. Share his memory with others. We need you and all that you do to bless others through your experience.

    • Heather
      Heather May 1, 2017 at 11:59 am #

      I am sorry for your loss as well. Thank you for your kind words. My hope is that others can find comfort in my story and know that they are not alone in their grief. Grief can be very lonely even when surrounded by people that love and support you as no one can experience it on your level. Lots of love to you and your family.