Baby Braden Petska

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Grief...what it is it? How can one describe it? It's a feeling like no other. It grabs hold of you when you least expect it and makes the hole inside of you even deeper. It's gripping, it's real, it's suffocating at times. I look at Braden's picture and I can't help but feel this longing desire to just hold him once more. The reality I won’t is too painful to even admit and come to terms with. I cry with anger that he was taken from us so quickly. I feel like we were robbed of his innocent life. I can understand if he was in pain and suffering, but to our knowledge he was not. We have no answers as to why – I know only God knows this, but I’m hoping and praying for some kind of medical answers. We were told there was a great possibility that we will never know. One week ago last night, we put him to bed to have him wake up just hours later complaining that his tummy and arm hurt. He couldn’t get comfortable after Rich tried rocking him back to sleep. One look at him told me something wasn’t right –was it the flu, was it heart related? There was maybe a 15 minute window of us trying to figure out how we could help as parents to make our baby feel better. He became unconscious, needing compressions for the next 2 hours as paramedics and doctors did all they could to bring his weak heart to a stable rate. We knew when we were at our local hospital that his heart was not responding and CHW could probably do no more than they could. As parents, you hang onto that one little strand of hope that maybe, just maybe our “hospital home” could be our miracle workers once more. They flew him and admitted him to the PICU. It was here that our docs we’ve worked with from day one met us to explain what we feared to hear the most. We held him, kissed him, and helped him understand that he was the most perfect son and that it was okay for him to go see our Heavenly Father. We left him in the hands of our Dr. Ghanayem as we left in disbelief. We shared sweet memories of our “B” all week and celebrated a beautiful life last weekend. It’s now that’s tough – having to relive our routine only in our minds and not share it with the precious life we had thanked God for everyday. How can one say “time” heals when more time away from him is what hurts the most? I’m trying to search for strength at these times, but I feel like the weakness gives in and the cruel reality that he’s gone wins. Uggh!

I will sign off today with the letter Rich and I wrote to Braden to be shared at his service. I will share this to help find my strength for the day. Thanks to all who have written us, sent cards, flowers, stopped by, called, and were there to help us celebrate his short yet precious life. Thank you for the prayers as that is what has helped us get up and move through each day. Please continue to pray for our strength as the days ahead will be even tougher.

Dear Braden, our perfect little boy…
We sit here today with the impossible task of putting your life and the sweet memories we hold for you on paper.
Where do we begin? You were our miracle created especially for us to take special care of. Your mended little heart created a foundation of love that spread to the hearts of many. We knew your little life held more purpose than we could ever imagine.

Your beautiful blue eyes were always engaged on what you could learn and gain meaning from as you were so incredibly gifted. You would see things big or small, near or far, we would have to search for ourselves to see.
Your smile could brighten the darkest room and your beautiful voice held excitement for everything that surrounded you. We embraced your vivacious spirit everyday as you taught us how important it was to cherish and hang onto the littlest things in life- especially God’s beautiful creations:
A cardinal perched on our railing, a blooming flower, the tiniest bug only your eyes could see, the sound of a morning dove, the rumble of thunder or funder as you would say, a beautiful sunrise that would paint the sky pink, the moon that would follow us home on your side of the car, and the baby in mama’s belly you longed to play and share your toys with.
Your eyes, your smile, the dimple that would appear on your nose, and your apple cheeks are what we long to kiss and stroke as your physical presence is no longer in reach. You brought an indescribable amount of joy to our lives where our hearts were overflowing with pride and love for you.
Thanks for teaching us the meaning of life as it should be lived – with gratitude for every day of your existence and cherishing every hug and expression of love you gave to not only us but to everyone around you.
Our lives sit empty as we hold on to your precious moments and the sound of your sweet voice as it echoes in our minds. As we will never know why you earned your wings so early, we will hang onto the belief that someday you will be in our loving arms again.
Until then, we hope your gentle spirit will help ease the pain of our broken hearts and guide us through each day that we are unable to hold you, squeeze you, wrestle you, kiss you, read and sing to you.
Sweet dreams our precious little B-man, our hero, our son.

Our eternal love,
Your Mama and Dada

38 Comments:

Blogger Carla said...

Steph and Rich,
I wish I had the right words but I am speechless. Please know that I think of you always and pray for you to find peace.
Love always, Carla

8:46 AM  
Blogger tcolussi said...

I wish I had the words to say . . . I continue to pray for you (and the next miracle you are about to witness in June). I hope you don't mind, I sent a note to my friends with Brayden's story, hoping to reach as many prayers for you and your family as I can. I pray for peace, strength and hope for you and Rich. You're in my thoughts.

Tara (McQuisten) Colussi

8:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Steph and Rich,

I have tried to write on here numerous times, and just cannnot come up with the right words. Please know that you were the best parents Braden could have ever had and even though his time here was way too short, he was loved by so many. You are in my thoughts and prayers daily. Please find strength in friends, family, and the Lord to get through these difficult times ahead.

Amy DesJardins

9:34 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Steph & Rich
Thank you for sharing your letter to Braden and your blog updates. Sharing the burden I truly believe helps the burden. We are here to help you through this. Please keep writing - it is a reminder how fragile life is and how we tend to fret about the small trivial things in life. We need to be more caring, enjoy the small things - the "funder", the birds - everything. I pray for you and little "B."
Deb (Fulcher)

10:42 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love you Buddy....
you too Rich.
hugs and tears,
Cara

10:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm thinking about you daily, even hourly. I'm heartbroken for you both, for your little man, and your families. I pray for peace and strength in your hearts and minds. Always remember that you have many praying for you and they would be willing to do anything to help.

Heidi (Kroupa) Cotey

10:57 AM  
Blogger Angie said...

Thank so much for sharing this today. I have been thinking about you two so much since our time together this weekend. It was so hard to leave and try to get back to "normal". I'm praying for you two so much this week and know we will see you very soon! One step at a time.

Love, Angie

11:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh My Gosh Steph and Rich, My heart is aching so bad for you and your family. It's unimaginable what you are going through right now. It's every parents worst fear/nightmare. I am thinking about you and praying that you will somehow find strength to get through this tragedy. I've reread the most recent blog so many times today and I am just sick to my stomach. Tears are running down my face and I just wish this did not happen. Please let me know if there is anything at all that you guys need. You are loved by so many and have an enormous support system. You are in my thoughts, Jodi

11:15 AM  
Anonymous Sara said...

Steph and Rich, I too am sitting here with tears rolling down my face wondering "WHY" but knowing there really is a reason.
I've never witnessed anything like what we all saw this weekend..The out-pour of love and support for you and Braden was amazing. Like my sister said, "we think of you always and pray for you both to find peace."
Love you, Sara

12:06 PM  
Blogger The Watson Family said...

Your post was so beautifully written. Although no words can take away the hurt, pain, anger, and sadness you have, I am just here to say we are here you. it is hard to grasp the reality that only the Lord above knows why sweet Braden had to be taken from earth. We pray for your comfort...for you peace, and for Braden to keep shining down upon you.

Love & Hugs,
Nicole Watson

www.caringbridge.org/visit/maddisonwatson

12:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing such a personal part of your life. The heart community is deeply saddened by Braden's parting. I will continue to pray for God to comfort you in this very difficult time.
With love and prayers,
Jen

12:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Steph and Rich,I wish that I was someone who's words came together with the depth of both of yours. Because I don't know if I can make it without being able to read them each time you write. I love Braden so much. I really didn't know what an everyday part of my life he was. I didn't realize that every morning, coffee in hand, that I would go into my salon and say "Good Morning" my Little Man. You are just the cutiest thing barefoot with your little red wagon.I love you be safe. I didn't realize how much we talked about him. All the granma/pappa/Auntie Marcey stories we shared. Please let our writings help you know we are here...here because we love him.Because you love him.Because we love you. One day we will look at each other and know we did better because he was here. Love you both so much. Deb

2:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So many thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. We are all praying that peace, strength, patience and love will find you today and everyday. We pray that peace will find you and you will be ready for it. We pray that strength will come from your strong faith in our Lord. We pray that you will be patient in the healing process- allowing you to accept the tears, longing, anger and frustrations. We pray that love will continue to grow in your family. We will always remember your precious little boy.
~All of us who you choose to share your story with.

2:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Steph & Rich-
Thank you for sharing your beautiful letter with all of us. I had heard at the wake that you had written one to be read at the funeral. I'm glad I got the opportunity to read this precious and intimate letter to your beautiful boy. I selfishly hoped for a tiny bit of closure after seeing you last Friday, knowing that maybe it would bring you a tiny bit of closure too. I feel nothing of the sort, so I can only imagine how you are feeling. I feel like no matter what I do all day or all night, I'm grieving for you, Rich & Braden. Even though none of us can go through the same pain and suffering that you are going through, know that so many of us are suffering with you for your loss. Also know that it is okay to question things and be down right angry, it is part of the grieving process and something that ultimately will help you get to some level of peace at some point. You are right that God knows the reason, and it may never be clear, but I believe some day it will make sense, whether it is here on earth or in heaven. I'm so worried about you guys in these next few weeks, as I wish things would get easier but I think they're going to get harder. Keep reaching out to all of us who love you and have pledged to be here for you. We need to be and will be your source of strength and support. I wish I could make this go away for you and everyone around you who knew and loved Braden, I really do. I feel helpless and realize all I can do is continue praying and offering my support. You are right, Braden was taken too soon, it's not fair and it's not easy and it isn't even humane. But continue to rely on your faith and know that God never gives you more than you can bare. It is in these darkest moments that you will think he has abandoned you that you'll look back and realize he was carrying you through them. I've called these my "Footprints" moments in my life, after the well known poem. I'm sure you've read it but read it again when you get a chance. Thank you again for sharing some adorable and intimate moments about Braden, such as the "funder" and dimple on his nose. I hadn't gotten a chance to meet him in person as much as I would have liked but I felt like I knew him better from all your wonderful updates. I hope you find some comfort at what I've written, I'm grasping here too. The most important thing to know is that we all love you and we're doing what we can to help you through this. Love, Amy Vosters & family

3:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wanted to let you know that we are keeping your family in our thoughts and prayers! Stay strong and cherish all of your wonderful memories
Love, Shannon & Nick Drummer

3:37 PM  
Anonymous Uncle Lar and Aunt Gooch said...

Rich and Steph,
Like everyone has said, there are no words to say to make this pain go away.
Braden has accomplished so much in his 2-1/2 years than we 50+ years people have done in our lifetimes. Because of Braden, the Heart of Gold Charity was founded. Heart of Gold has brought children's HLHS and heart defects to the forefront. We never heard of hypoplastic left heart syndrome. The charity has already given out scholarships to students going into the medical profession, hoping to cure these diseases. And then there is the donations to Ronald McDonald House and other charities and the many, many gift baskets given to the families of children at Children's.
Steph, I think your writing is powerful, and your faith uplifting. Your journal or blog of Braden's 2-1/2 years were coming from your hearts and souls. I have read the entries of other heart families - some you don't even know across the United States - and have looked at you for faith and inspiration. This is another way of Braden helping others. Maybe you should consider publishing this journal to help families coping with heart defects.
Rich and Steph, you are the best parents. Our kids are grown and I am still learning from you two.

3:50 PM  
Anonymous chris said...

Rich and Steph~

I was going to email this to you but the words were written so well thought it may help others too. My cousin on the McGinnis side is having a hard time with my grandma's death. She had posted a blog and this letter was sent to her from her step mother. Hope you will find some of the words in this letter comforting. I know it did us.

Love,
Chris

letter from my step mom
Current mood: bummed
Category: Life
(this is a follow up to my last blog. my stepmom wrote this to me after reading how ive been feeling. maybe it will help someone else who misses someone)





Dear Carol,





You can write or call me anytime for anything, always. I'll always listen. It's hard to hear you so sad and not be able to do anything to make you feel better. I know how very close you were to your Grandma and I know how much she adored you. Her face would light up when you came into the room! You were her joy!





There is no way to 'get over' the loss of someone you love. You'll always feel the physical loss. Something I believe may offer you some understanding or comfort.





You grieve because you believe that the chance to do all that you did not do, or to say all that you did not say, is gone forever. You grieve because you miss them. You may believe you'll never share with anyone else what you shared with your Grandma.





If not careful, the spirit of grief can take over your life, causing you to miss the joy, peace and love that lies within you and ahead of you.



It's normal to grieve. But, everything ends exactly when it needs to end. To grieve what you think you have missed, or may miss, is to doubt Divine Wisdom. Grieve until you find enough comfort to live in gratitude for what you & your Grandma had together. Grieve until you can accept the fact of what has happened. Grieve until you can let go of what was, without having to forget all that it was.



Until today, you may have been grieving for what you did not do or what you believed you would never experience again. Just for today, embrace grief as a process of preparation. Knowing that you are preparing yourself to continue on in life.



People never really die. They simply leave their bodies. They end their physical existence in order to continue their spiritual journey. A person who has entered death is never beyond your love. Death teaches us to believe in what we cannot see. Once you know a person, you will always know them. Once you have loved them, you will always love them, and your love keeps them alive.



Life continues after death as long as you remember their warmth, their gentleness, and the meaning they brought to your life and to others. In your remembrance, death cannot overtake life. Life simply changed form. When you spend time honoring the dreams of the person you loved, and you continue to stand up for what they believed in, and you continue to do the things they loved to do, then you are saying "Grandma's life mattered. She continues to touch my life and the lives of other's. She made an impact. She was here.



Always remember to honor the special ways of anyone who touches your life. Your remembrance offers them a victory over the thing we call death. You may have been mourning believing your Grandma was forever gone from you; but you are the living reflection of the dreams your Grandma had for you and the dreams you shared together. She lives on in your memories, your love, and in your sharing stories of her with others. She's always right there with you in your heart.





I did share this with your Dad since you said it was ok. If you had wanted not to, I would have kept it between us. He loves you so much Carol, you are his pride and joy. We both are so inspired by you, your gentleness, your compassion for others, your capacity to love. You have a beautiful spirit that shines through. You are as beautiful in your soul as you are physically. You must know that you have never disappointed your Grandma, your Mom, your Dad, my parents, and least of all, me. You are a source of pride and joy in all our lives. Not one of us could ever love you any less or ever be disappointed in you.





Where ever your Dad and I live, there will always be a room for you. I hope you know that. You can call us day or night, for anything, or for nothing at all !!


Love you always, always, unconditionally. Tina (& Dad !)

3:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

May I compliment you and your husband on your bravery? I believe both of you are quite courageous! Braden is very lucky to have two such wonderful parents! The letter was perfect and very touching. There are no words or actions to relieve the pain you are feeling. Just know that many are praying for you! I am sitting here with my 21 month old son, who has HLHS. Braden is in my prayers constantly as are his parents. I hope you find your answers or a piece of mind to deal with your loss. I think we all would be reacting the same way. Best wishes and many prayers!!

5:14 PM  
Blogger Carmen said...

Precious Dad & Mom,
May your heart experience a hundred-fold more than I when my Mom died unexpectedly that 'TRULY, blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted'...that is my whisper to our ABBA...

shalom aleichem, Petska Family...shalom aleichem (shalom be upon you)

5:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dearest Steph and Rich,

I have been brought to you via my sister, Judy Krueger, who teaches at Johnsburg H.S. - I, too, am a teacher. I lost my precious HLHS baby girl 18 years ago, when the Norwood procedure was still just an experiment. My daughter, Callie, lived to just 3 months but, I revel in her smiles, games of peekaboo, and the imprint she has made on so many lives - even after her death. I cried as I just read your words and relived my own grief. Just this month, my family released our pink balloons to acknowledge the birthday she never was able to reach. You should see our Christmas tree as we continually add new angel ornaments each year in her memory. My husband and I have worked hard to keep Callie's spirit alive with our two boys who were born after her death. I would love to communicate with you via e-mail, if you would like, to share survival stories and to empathize. Just e-mail my sister through the district if you're interested and she'll hook us up. I'm 18 years healed and yet I will never forget the beautiful gift I was blessed with! With prayers, Joy Shaw, Loveland, CO

6:27 PM  
Blogger Jer, Kari, Alayna-Maria said...

I am overcome with grief for a child I never met, but loved through my connection to you and to his little heart through our own daughter. Steph, I have words I have written to you over and over, and then erased, knowing how hollow they sound through the distance of the keyboard. I do not know the dark place of grief you and Rich are in right now. I only know from others who have lost children that you are now in the place where the hardest work of all begins... the grief is a full time job. We are thinking of you both constantly, praying that you sharing your grief with us will help you to sort through your sorrow. There will be a day, someday, when his memory brings first a feeling of love and pride before a feeling of crushing grief. There will be a day, someday, that you will feel some peacefulness. Until that time, we are all here.
Try to eat and sleep when you can. We all love you
Kari, Jeremy and Alayna

7:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Steph,
As I'm sure many before me have come to say, it's difficult to find the right words to express the sorrow we feel for you. I remember shortly after I delivered our little Eli in August of '04 Cara telling me the news of Braden and his troubles. I couldn't imagine how difficult that must have been but now understand how much worse it can be. I do know, both you and Rich were chosen for a reason to be Braden's parents. You are right, only God knows why it was you two that were meant to give birth, care for and then send your baby back. You gave him a beautiful life that can be celebrated. I hope you find strength in each other, as it was you two that created that Braden's special sole and find hope in what you soon will have. We continue to keep you in our thoughts and prayers.
Much love,
Carey (Boecker) and Joel Peterson

8:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rich & Steph...
It has been such a hard - extrmely hard - week for the two of you. I cannot even imagine what the feeling and the longing for Braden feels like. I think about the two of you and pray for you everyday. I know I only met Bradon one time, but I cannot get him off my mind. He was such a little angle. I know that it does not make sense now, I don't know if it ever will, but God has a purpose for all that He does. When I pray with my small group from church for the four of you that is what they keep telling me. We need to keep our faith and believe that our God is an awesome God with huge plans for Bradon and the three of you. I wish I could do more for you - I wish I could take away your pain and bring your baby back to you. Please if there is ANYTHING that I can do for you let me know. I mean that with all my heart.
Take care of yourselves.
Hugs and care,
Dani

9:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Steph and Rich,
Thank you for sharing this beautiful letter and your thoughts and feelings. I wish I knew what to say to you last night, but please know we are carrying heavy hearts and are sharing in your grief. I so wish we could have been there to share in the celebration of Braden's life. I have to admit I am angry that this has to happen to such wonderful people and that it just did not seem like it was B's time to leave us. But faith has to become the overwhelming reason as we trust in God and his ways. I have always admired your strength as parents and in your faith in God the more we were able to get to know you better. For the first time since we met, I can no longer say I know exactly what you are going through, but only that I have thought "what if" a hundred times over. We are still here for you in your darkest moments and to help get through the toughest to come.
Please also give our love to your immediate family, I have been thinking about them as well.
All our love,
Erika, Kevin, Sam and baby

9:24 PM  
Anonymous Sherri said...

Dear Steph and Rich:

There are no words. I wish I could wrap my arms around you though. I wish I could take some of your pain away. Your family has touched my life. Braden has touched Sam's life. I will always be thankful for that. Please do not lose sight of how special you are to all those you come in contact with. We love you and our thoughts and prayers are with you always.

Sam's Grandma

10:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Steph and Rich -

Your loss has made me think about a lot of things.

When Brian and I were pregnant with Liam, one of our big fears was (and quite honestly continues to be) that we would become so attached to the child we would have and then lose him like you've lost Braden. At the time, we talked about how it would be easier to lose the child right away after birth versus growing attached to the child and then losing him after a few years. Now, two and half years later, my feelings are a little different. Yes, I think your pain and loss would not be as great if you hadn't grown as attached to the precious gift you were given -- and perhaps this would be easier. But, at the same time, all the lessons learned from your child would also be lost and you would not be the same person you are for having known your child.

As you wrote in your entry, these heart kids teach you to cherish everyday that you have with the people you love and not to sweat the small stuff. I think you live a little deeper and feel a little deeper when you recognize the cardinal, hear the thunder, or notice the bug. In times of trial, it's vital to have a best friend and loving spouse. Braden has shown you that you have that with each other. And, when life gets scary and you're not sure what to do, Braden has taught you that you have more strength than you think and sometimes a good laugh is the best medicine of all. So, even though you feel such despair at having lost Braden so young, he will be with you everyday because he has shaped who you are today and how you live your lives. Though his time with you was short, he had a profound impact on who you are and what you will go on to do.

I guess it's my Irish blood, but I do have to think, if you're going to enter heaven, St. Patty's Day is a good day to do it. I like to think the bag pipers were playing, the Irish dancers dancing, the story tellers animated, and the green beer flowing when Braden made his entrance into heaven. On that note, I will leave you with a traditional Irish blessing:

May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face;
the rains fall soft upon your fields and until we meet again,
may God hold you in the palm of His hand.

I weep for you and your family. I will continue to pray for your strength and healing.

Bridget O'Meara

11:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Stephanie and Rich,

Eskimo Saying
Perhaps they are not stars in the sky, but rather openings where our
loved ones shine down to let us know they are happy.


Two years ago today, my life changed forever with the passing of my brother. When I let the dogs out this morning I looked up and said hi to him. I gazed around at the endless number of shining stars and just knew he was out there and he was OK and definately not alone! Then I came inside and read your final entry and letter to Braden. I looked at Mark's picture on our wall and asked him to give extra hugs to Braden, because like you, his time on earth was way to short.

There are no magic words I could say to take your pain away, but God knows I wish I did. Please realize that all of your family and friends are here for you. Depend on all of us to help you in any way we can.

Your lives and stories have touched so many people, in so many ways. You make us realize that there is goodness and love out in a world that can seem so cold.

May you find some peace and comfort when you look up in the sky as I do. May each day give you a tiny bit more of strength that seems to be gone for right now. May the love you have for each other and life, help you to be able to move forward and realize he will always be with you...that he is not alone. Braden is surrounded by more love and support than we can ever imagine or know. No more pain or fears but endless amount of peace.

You are loved and we are all here for you...no matter how simple those words may seem...they are sincere beyond belief.

Debbie

6:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You do not grieve alone my friend, This has been a very sad week for all of us who have ben touched by Bradens life. I have been asking the same questions "why?" in anger and fear and hear only silence.
Your words and thoughts are so touching. Your faith although shaken is still strong and true. Blessed are those who mourn for they will be comforted...
Know that your in my constant prayers that Gods peace that surpasses all understanding will seep into your soul and fill you with HIS hope that comes to us every Easter.

IN HIS GRIP and in my prayers

Tammy Tomomitsu

12:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Petska and LaCombe families,
I can't imagine a more empty feeling than to lose the most precious thing in life, your child. I have prayed for you all since I have heard of this heart wrenching story and hope that you somehow find the strength to get through this. I admire you for sharing your feelings in your blogs and wish that your new arrival will help somewhat in relieving your grief. God Bless you all.

Molly Depew

2:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Steph and Rich,
We are completely heartbroken for the two of you. I haven't been able to stop thinking about all of you since I was informed of this tradgedy. I just want you to know that I am so happy that our family was able to meet your family and spend a little time with Braden at different functions (Al's Run and Bocce tournaments). We are all blessed as having known your family and truly admire your wisdom and strength. Braden was an angel right here on earth and he will continue to remain as one in heaven. Thank you for sharing that beautiful letter, as it is a reminder to us all that we should be appreciating all of life's gifts.
I wish I could wrap my arms around you both and heal your hearts. My heart is aching for you both, as this is something no parent should ever have to go through. I continue to pray for you and hope that God will give you strength everyday and always. We are thinking of you both.
Love,
Julia, John and Cole Steffens (Kevin,Erika and Sam's friends)

3:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Stefanie and Rich,

We continue to send prayers to you and your family for strength and guidance. Your letter to Braden was not only beautiful but perfect. How lucky to have had Braden for as long as you did. This past week, thinking of the heartache you have had to bear has made me reflect on my family. Though I can not ever imagine what you are going through, being a parent myself and watching someone go through such heartache really puts in perspective how fragile life is. Many families take for granted how blessed we are when our children are healthy. You have always had to deal with the unknown. Know, we continue to support you and we all want to help in what ever way possible. I hope reading what everyone has written gives you enough strength to continue sharing Bradens beautiful memories. I look forward to giving you the biggest hug next time I see you. Continue being strong and relish in the memories that you and others have of your sweet Braden. It is amazing how someone who was so little can put on the biggest smile. Again our thoughts and prayers...
The McGees (Brian, Audre, Alexandra and James)

6:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was so sorry to hear of your loss. You are in my prayers.
Love to you both,
Tricia Miilu
(KI Sawyer Elementary)

8:54 AM  
Blogger Amy said...

Stephanie and Rich,

We just heard about Braden's sudden passing and are absolutely heartbroken for you. We remember speaking with you when Braden was just an infant about the whole experience of HLHS and CHW.

We will pray for Braden, for you both, and for everyone Braden's life touched. You've reminded us powerfully to cherish every day with our son. You've set up the Heart of Gold charity and done so much good for others, all born out of Braden.

We are so very sorry for your loss and will pray for Braden's gentle spirit to be with you always.

Amy, Kevin, Reed and Grace Iverson

12:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Steph and Rich-
Our thoughts and prayeers continue to be with you as you start to work through your grief.
Love,
Anne Blaine

4:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just heard of Braden's passing and am so sorry. Please know that I am pryaing for your broken hearts. It's been a long, long time Steph since we've talked, but that doesn't matter at a time like this. I didn't know Braden, but from what I've read on the blog he must have been truely magical to know. You and your family are in our hearts and prayers as you begin the process of healing.
Greg and Andrea Timm
Marquette, MI

1:38 PM  
Anonymous Stephanie Morse said...

Steph and Rich-
I wish that I could take your pain away. Although I've known you for such a short time, my life has been better because of you. Know that the same can be said of Braden. You touched his life, just as he touched yours. Please let me know if there is anything that I can do for either of you. In the meantime, I will pray for the peace of understanding to be bestowed upon the two of you.
With much love,
Stephanie

7:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a parent, you spend so much time and effort raising your little ones, that you wonder what you did with all your "free time" before you had them. It's that time right now that hurts so much, looking at all of his things, trying to continue each day. But knowing that you have also been blessed with another special life, one that you will meet so soon, is a miracle as well. B would want only the best for his little brother/sister, and that means his Mom and Dad need to take care of each other and be strong, even when you don't know if you can. You have seen how much strength and resilience Braden had, even as a tiny baby. I know those traits came from two special people, and it is that strength that will carry you through this. The sun will rise again tomorrow, and Braden will be watching, smiling, knowing that his little sibling is fortunate to have two great parents, just like he did. We constantly pray for you...
Peace and Love,
The Slagers

4:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Mr and Mrs. Petska,
I know this comment is a little late, but to know that each and every day someone is thinking of you, I hope makes you feel a little bit better. I think of you and your family every day and the heart ache you have all suffered from. I know this might not mean much coming from a student but I pray for you every night and think of how precious life is every day now. I wish you all the best and hope to see you soon Mr.Petska!
Take care, you are always in my thoughts!
Karissa Lovergine

6:23 PM  

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