Baby Braden Petska

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.


Blogger Jer, Kari, Alayna-Maria said...

When I was reading what you wrote about studying grief, and now living it, I thought, yes, there is a book here Steph, a book in you about this journey...maybe not today or tomorrow, but I feel like it is here somewhere. There are so many wise lessons in your journey with Braden, through his life and death... I have benefitted so much from your wisdom through this blog. You should not have to have this burden, nor do you have to share it with others... but it is there nonetheless, and your honesty and grace through your joueny is something that I know many would learn and marvel at.
Owen's pictures are just beautiful, and thank you for sharing one of Braden too.. I loved that you shopped for Braden for Toys for Tots, and how your B helped you along when you needed his help.
Hugs from us...we are here, not forgetting him.

4:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Continued prayers for peace to surround you in the New Year. God Bless all of you!

Jen S.
Mended Little Hearts of Milw

8:28 PM  
Blogger ESolgos said...

I think you are onto something when you said feeling pain is better than feeling nothing. But I still wish I could take the pain away. I can't believe you were able to think of others (toys for tots) in the midst of your pain. You inspire all of us.

8:38 PM  
Anonymous Karin Kolman said...

Ah, I feel the same about 2010. You put it so well. Although I haven't had to say goodbye to my loved one in 2010, I have had to grieve the loss of a healthy child. It is so "bittersweet" as you put it...the year brought my little miracle son, but also many stresses and heartaches with his very long hospital stay and continued medical needs at home. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and feelings. I think of you often as you continue on with your journey of grief and healing.

6:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My thoughts and prayers continue to be with you and your family. I hope you continue to feel the love and support of so many people, even if we don't say this in person.
Erin H

7:16 PM  
Blogger Dana said...


I know nothing about losing a child, but I do know that it is true in any situation that you have to feel through it, and you are doing that like an expert.

Often, we don't allow ourselves to feel our emotions, to be rawly human, and to be honest about what it feels like to be us in a given situation.

Kari is right. You and Rich have taken this journey with Braden and it is not in vein. From his birth through his life, his challenges, his triumphs and smiles, and then through your loss of your beautiful boy and the coping you've done since that day, and even through beginning anew with a brand new boy, you have the stuff to show other people how to do this and to help them through it.

You write here. Your compilation is a start of a book. The blog entries could be an intro to a chapter, then you could write a chapter about that time in Braden's life or the journey you've been on.

It's fresh, but you are doing this like a hero.

I couldn't help but think, as I read your entry about the new year, that omgosh, it must be excruciating to move to a new year when someone you love so deeply can't move to the new year with you. You're right. Those of us who never lost anyone that close don't know all the crevices that grief seems to trickle into.

Reading all about B through your eyes all this time has made me think of my great-grandmother, and many other women like her, who lost an infant or a toddler and never talked about it because it wasn't talked about back then. I can't imagine the pain she endured, but you've helped me realize that not only was she the amazing person I knew, she was even tougher and had even more love in her heart than I ever imagined because she loved all of us (three more kids, 12 grandkids and 28 great-grandkids) in spite of losing a toddler who we assigned no significance to (because she never talked about her) but who must have meant the world to her, too. I didn't know about her child until I did the family tree and found her. That's how much it wasn't talked about.

Bless you and your family in 2010. Your Owen is quite the shining light.


10:35 PM  

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