Baby Braden Petska

Monday, January 18, 2010

Sweet Memories of You

Dear B,
Yesterday was a pretty big day for us and it started out great with the sun shining brightly on our faces. About a month or so ago, we were contacted by the Brigg's and Al Team at Children's asking if they could come do a story on you, your life, and how much CHW made an impact on your life. We were tickled. How could we ever turn down an opportunity to talk about our own little miracle? So much of our heartache has been the inability to share your life like we used to. As the day drew near, I looked around the house trying to come up with the best way to share your story, honor you, and let the world see you through our eyes. Honestly, where do I begin? It is evident, you are present all over this house. From the photographs and videos, to your guitar and Johny Cash hat, to your favorite books, closet of toys, your room (now Owen's)then and now, your teddy bear, the quilt with all your clothing sewn together to the welcome home sign still hanging in the garage. Thank goodness for editing right? As the interview progressed, I hadn't been aware of how much I have missed that part of our lives - the heart world, the hospital world, the doctors, nurses. You might not have liked the clinic visits as much, but your daddy and I sure did. It was our chance to show how much you've grown, how much you could do, how funny you were, and what big hopes there were for you and your future. Sigh - there's so much of you we miss - everyday something new.

Owen is getting so big - he tries to bark back at the dog when he plays with Jimminy. He's finally starting to get the hang of rolling - he's just content to sit and play :) I read him your favorite ABC book last night. I got to some of your favorite parts and read it like I used to read it to you. The hardest part was when I got to the letter B - I just couldn't personalize that part anymore. I look into his eyes and as much as he melts my heart, it hurts knowing you can't share these same moments with us as his big brother.

What does a hug from heaven feel like? Can you help me with this?
Keeping you close to our hearts,
Your Mama

Dear Bloggers,
I'm not sure where I am with my grief right now. I guess a reprieve from the heavy pain would be a pretty good description. I'm not sure if I "like" this place I'm in as it's a place I analyze the grief so much more and question why I feel "good" or somewhat okay. I've read and have been told to not feel guilty when you're at the peak and not the valley, when the mud is thinner vs thicker, when the gloom and emptiness isn't present all the time. It's like a "break" from the grief. I've been told to embrace it as it's truly just that - a "break." You would think anyone would want that reprieve right? Oddly enough, once I'm "here", I don't feel as close to B and his memories - they're not as clear, as sharp, and I find myself forgetting moments that were once apart of my everyday routine. It's frustrating as I question, "Is there a happy medium?" Can the pain and laughter co-exist? Can the tears and smiles be worn on the same face? Deep down, I know the's just getting to where I can wear that answer on my heart and feel it for myself.

Yesterday's interview with Children's allowed us to re-visit some paths of Braden's life we don't get to visit or share as much anymore. It felt good to talk about the hope that was once provided to so many heart families and see that our B still "lives" and shines through all the special moments and memories we share of him. I couldn't help but look at my little "O" and see the hope that he has been providing to so many. I feel that we are able to love Owen all the more because of the love we had/have for Braden. Pastor Lynn recently wrote to us stating, "The same love that breaks our heart is the very love that makes it keep beating." How very true. Our hearts sure have taken a beating - feeling the intense emotion of love and pain all at once can surely be defining in one's life.

Still trying so hard to figure out where I'm at on this path....thanks again for muddling through so many of my random thoughts.


P.S. I would like to take this opportunity to share with you that the Wallace Family will be hosting a fundraiser for the Playroom of Hope. Once it is built, the Playroom will be a place where patients and families can go during their hospital stay at CHW. We met the Wallace family shortly after their daughter, Nevaeh, passed away with the same heart condition that B had. We have been a great support system for each other during these tough, tough times. Nevaeh would have been two this Valentine's Day, so it is a very special day indeed! The fundraiser will take place on Valentine's day in Madison - It will be a day filled with fun activities for kids along with a luncheon, raffle prizes, and a silent auction. You can get more info about the event on the following website:

Sunday, January 03, 2010

2010 - Will you be as bittersweet?

Happy New Year! How does heaven celebrate a new day...a new year...a new decade? I hope you played your monica (harmonica) and sang twinkle twinkle nice and loud. Starting a new year wasn't any different than starting a new day without you. Christmas came and went - we tried hard to honor you as best we could - through the tears, heartache, and longing - it was tough, but I think you would be proud. We were able to place an ornament on a tree at the funeral home in your honor. It was a beautiful ornament that proudly stated your name along with your birth and death dates. We placed it just where you could reach it - where I thought you would have stood, nice and tall. We then celebrated your life in a little ceremony for all those who passed away this year. It was nice, but once again, a reminder that sitting where we were/are just didn't and still doesn't feel right. I also wanted to shop for you and donate the toys I bought to Toys for Tots. As I began to peruse the toy aisle, I became frustrated....what would you want this year? What could I buy? These unanswered questions are what really rattles me as you mama "should" know these kinds of things. I guess you knew you should help me, because I looked down and there was your favorite truck book staring at me. I picked up two b/c I knew it was a book that could give excitement to two boys and not just one. Just like that, I had a little pile of many of your favorite toys - I even found your truck puzzle you loved to put together and the doctor kit that helped ease your fear of Dr. Joe's stethoscope. I guess you'll always be 2 because I never got to see you and know you at 3. We spent Christmas this year with Grandma Patsy and Papa Greg. Before we left, we stopped by to "see you" and hang an ornament on the tree that stands by your site. We propped up the wreath, dusted off the snow, and to our amazement, the Christmas lights were still working - I think you lent a helping hand to good ol' Duracell :) This year at Grandma and Papa's, the snowman wasn't as tall, but it was just as round. Owen took his turn getting his picture taken with it. Santa found us up north, and I would've loved to have seen you help Owen open up his gifts. Just trying to imagine not only you with your gifts, but helping Owen play with his brought a smile through the tears. You would be so marveled and amazed at Owen and his great bigs smiles and squealing laughter....he is so loved and yet it seems he returns it in two fold - almost like you're loving us through him as well.

Not a moment goes by where I don't laugh and instantly think of you....not a day goes by where I don't wish you were here....not a night goes by where I don't long to kiss and hug you good night....

Loving you always and missing you more and more each day.
Holding you close to our hearts,
Your mama

Dear Bloggers,
As the "new year" approached and we counted down to midnight, so much around us's now a new year, a new decade.....yet, on the inside, there's so much that's the same. I'm really not one for making resolutions b/c I tend to forget about them and ultimately don't follow what I had originally signed up to change. Usually my change is small as I'm not a smoker and don't seem to carry a lot of bad habits (Rich might think differently about this statement :) This year, however, I would like to resolve to carry less anger in my heart and offer more of myself to others....something I haven't been able to do lately and have felt the ache of this absence.'s not only a process, but a that I know will be life long in so many ways. As I round each bend in this journey, I seem to face another that I didn't see coming, whether it be a new feeling I've discovered, a new "problem" we've encountered, or something else I've learned about the "new me." I call it an obstacle b/c it's something I didn't see coming or didn't know existed with grief. I studied grief in college...through a theology class with an amazing professor. I thought I understood the stages of grief as best I could even though I never really experienced a close death. Silly me to even think that the 5 stages were meant to go in order, be so rigid, and never return to any previous stages. Boy was I wrong! It's so much more - if you've read the updates, maybe you can see my footprints I've left on this journey and determine that grief's process is kind of all over the place. This blog was meant for Braden's journey - his journey of survival and to show his many badges of courage, strength, and resilience through all that he lived through. Now this blog has traced a journey of so much more....more than I ever envisioned as this is not how B's story was supposed to be written. I couldn't help but think about this blog as I flipped through People Magazine's "The Year in Review" edition (thanks Erin:). All I kept thinking about was our year in review - what a year! Looking at a new year, so many are quick to say, "So long 2009....good-bye year from hell....take a hike you crappy year you.....hello 2010, let this be the best year yet....let's make the most of this new year, a fresh start." I was actually speechless. How do you say good-bye to a year in which you welcomed a new child, yet how do you not say good-bye to the year that brought you the most unimaginable pain? I guess that unchanged "feeling inside" I told you about earlier sums it up....there's really no change. So I guess, I will continue to live each day, hoping to relieve some of that anger from within; I pray for the sun to shine each day as that helps tremendously; I will continue to look at Owen's precious smiles and think that he's smiling for two; I will make small steps to try and offer selfless acts of kindness for that HAS to help ease the burden of a broken heart.... Thanks for muddling through these thoughts on a "new year" with me.

Before I sign off, I'd like to share one more thing. Lately, I have had that feeling that I just can't seem to let go. How in the world are we designed to just move on when our loved ones pass away? It was a feeling I just couldn't put into words until we received the follwing excerpt in an e-mail from a dear friend: "I believe you will always have heartache for B, but that's because you have so much love for him. That's the chance we take by opening our hearts up to love someone so freely. But I ask you, 'is there any other way you would have loved him?'" My answer to this question is "No"...I wouldn't have loved B any other way and I guess that is the risk we take when we love someone so much. If given a choice, I guess I'd rather feel this pain than feel nothing at all.

Love, peace, health, and happiness in the new year,

Live simply.
Love generously.
Speak kindly.
Care deeply.
Leave the rest to God.

I just had to share one of the best moments of Christmas last year when B discovered Santa put a little addition onto his Geo-Tracks set. We enjoyed reliving Christmas through Braden's eyes by watching the DVD we filmed of him last year.