“Dad. I miss y’all and this season of tradition. Please give my precious sister the happiest of birthdays. She was always a gift to me and to our family. Give her a kiss for me. I’ll see her soon”. – Braden
“Son,you get to spend your Christmases with Jesus in Heaven itself! Give Jesus a kiss from us. We’ll see you both soon.” – Braden’s family
I’ve missed writing, focused on maintaining some semblance of employment while putting together a book derived from these blogs and experiences around our loss. Tentatively, the book, “Braden’s Voice, You’ll See I’ll Stay” should be out by April in time for Easter. A time for hope and promise.
From day one with BradensVoice, I admitted to not being a “blogger”. Neither am I a writer of books. It’d be a decent wager, the initial printing of 250 books will be found, after my death in boxes in our attic collecting dust. That’s ok. After all, it was my best work and one can’t do better than their best work.
A book? What a learning time for me. I figured, you write a book, you publish it, and it takes hitting the “Publish” key. Not so. A decent book requires more re-writes and edits than you can imagine. Sure, I could publish a book without that effort, but this will very likely be my first and only. In honor of my son I want it to be my best effort. That takes a lot of time, toil, and prayer.
As we prepare to hit the “Publish” key on the book, we approach Christmas. In fact, it’s only the day after tomorrow. The only thing between today and that special date is our baby girl, Caitlin’s birthdate. Not just any birthday this year. It’ll be the Big 1-3.
I’ve written, re-written, and revised this story to connect the dots but find it best to transparently copy a letter to Caitlin written just after she was born. Also, if you read the post, “Gifts” hopefully you will more clearly understand.
A letter from a dad to his newborn daughter
December 24, 2007
Happy 1st birthday, my sweet baby girl! I wanted to write a letter to you on your first birthday so that when you’re old enough to understand, you could learn about how your life started.
You did not come along as easily as your big brother. After Braden joined us, we knew we wanted to add to our family, but God had different plans. through the next seven years, we prayed a lot and experienced several disappointments along the way. Braden yearned for a sibling and also prayed a lot about you.
When news arrived that Mommy was going to have you, we were in shock. After so long and so many trials, could it be true? Well, God does things in His time and we can’t ever fully understand why He waits. All the waiting and praying was worth it, though and we learned so much through it.
Your Mommy spent the next eight months in constant pain and her tummy was sick all the time. She and I prayed a lot and the family supported Mommy by helping do things she normally did. I learned by watching her that she is much stronger and courageous than I could ever be. God blessed us with a wonderful Mommy, didn’t He!
We know God hand selected YOU to become part of our little family. You’ll agree when you hear the story of your birth. We had plans to deliver after the Christmas and New Year holidays. We all went shopping and ice skating on December 23rd.
That night, we all went to sleep with visions of sugar plums, never dreaming that around 3AM, God would awake your Mommy with a feeling that she needed to call the hospital. She didn’t have any pain at all, but you were not moving much. Mommy woke me and said the doctor told her to come in immediately. Louise Yates was a family friend who came to keep Braden while he slept.
Let me tell you, Mommy and Daddy were scared. After all this time, would God’s plan be to not have our baby? When we arrived at the hospital and they checked Mommy, the doctor said, “We’re going have this baby girl today!” Little did we know there were complications and the doctor was trying not to upset us.
In less than one hour, you came into the world. I still remember the first time I saw you and doctor handing you to me. The doctor later told us that had Mommy not awoken and come to the hospital exactly when she did, you would not have lived. The doctor also told us that every doctor and nurse in the delivery room was praying as they worked to deliver you.
God’s grace and love during this time is how you took your middle name. We tell this story often as testimony to God’s hand in our lives.
When I came home to share the news of your birth with Braden, he was so happy that he forgot all about it being Christmas Eve! Not once did he ask about his gifts or if Santa would come. He ran to the car and said, “I want to go see my baby!”
I have seen a lot of brothers and sisters in my life, but never have I seen one who had so much love and pride in his sister. You’ve been blessed with a wonderful big brother.
During your first year, you had a little colic at first but not bad. We traded off holding you and I found that swinging you in the car seat helped soothe you. Soon, you began scooting around and I made a song, “Little Scooter you’re the one, Little Scooter sittin’ in the sun, Little Scooter all the way, Little Scooter what ya doin’ today”. Silly, but you laughed and brightened every time I sang it.
People stopped us all the time saying how beautiful and happy you were. That happiness is something we saw early with your brother too. I hope and pray the joy you have in your heart as a child remains as you go through life. Happiness is free and no one can take it from you.
I’m excited about what God has in store for you and for your brother. You are two special angels. In fact, I am blessed to have three angels in my life. Your Mommy was the first and my children are the other two. Of all the things I could tell you, two things are the most important.
First, God loves you and is with you always. He will never fail you. Second, God blessed you with family that loves you completely and unconditionally.
No matter where life takes any one of us, we will forever be a part of one another. My prayer is that you and Braden will invite Jesus into your hearts. As I told your brother, I will tell you.
Throughout this life, just remember that if we’re ever separated by distance or by death, that we’ll all be together again. Your family will always be there for you.
Here’s to a good life.
My Love Always,