Facebook, good or bad?


As we sat in the hospital after learning the reason for Brad’s passing, the immediate feeling was that there would be no mention of this on Facebook. We are private people. We do not want this put out there. But just as I have decided to write this blog, I also decided that day to make a Facebook post. I knew my idea would not get Sarah’s approval immediately. Of the two of us, she is more private. I had my reasons though and I knew it was the only option we had.  I went to her bed side and I explained to her what I wanted to do. As suspected she was not on board at first. I told her that if we did not use the Facebook platform as a means of displaying the answer to so many people’s questions, we would end up having to explain the details of what happened to everyone. This was only being posted to save us from having to keep explaining and reliving the moment. Our phones were already seeing signs of what was to come. I would not be able to ignore the messages and phone calls. This post was a delivery method. It delivered the news that most knew, but many still had not.  I knew there were going to be multiple people who would ask, “How is the new baby?” Hopefully this post would stop some of those. What kind of response would it get? My mind could not process that.

I had no idea what was to come. I put people in a tough position. How do you comment on a post like that? One of the things I hate the most about social media is the burdens it carries. You feel like you have to comment on some things for fear of what others may think of you. This post made me realize that so many people were saddened and heartbroken for us. It made me realize that even the toughest folks were taking this hard. I learned so much about people by their words. The simplest of phrases or the shortest set of words carry such an impact. One stands out to me and has since the very day it happened.  A guy I went to high school with, who I had not spoken to in years, posted simple two word comment, two words that broke me down: “With You”. What exactly was his intent in the message? I do not know, but it felt like he bear hugged me right through the screen. I never told him of the impact he had, but I should have. I read every comment so many times. I started feeling comfort in it. For months I would go back to it and read the post and the comments all over. I could not understand why I was doing it. There was something therapeutic about it. It made me realize that I needed to talk more about it. It changed the way I saw people and how just the smallest comment could help so much. It restored some of my  faith that there was still compassion inside of people.

I have since decided to stop using Facebook. There were good and bad things about it. Unfortunately, the bad largely out-weighed the good. I have been social media free for over six months now. I still keep an Instagram account so I can see pictures my wife post and promote the blog. I do not go any further than that. My life has less negativity in it now. Since removing myself from social media, I have had a lot of people ask me about it. Most of the ones that ask are asking because they too want to do it. They all feel the same way I did. They clearly see it as a source of negative energy, but can not let go of the few good things it gives them. I am not trying to push this on anyone. I am only telling you that it gave me peace. Technically this blog post is one big contradiction. Here I am telling you how I used social media to help me and my wife deliver news that we could not deliver ourselves. It was a huge tool for us. It made me see so much good in people through such a heartbreaking post. However, I am also telling you that it was the biggest source of negative energy in my life and I removed it. I guess it is ironic, but just know that you have the ability to make your situation better. In my situation, I have been searching for inner peace. If there is something in the way of that, it gets removed.

His Purpose In Life

Taken March 27th 2015, the day we released Brad’s ashes.

In a previous post I mentioned how some couples have actually separated after the loss of a child. This was something I did not know about until we lost Brad. The thought of losing a child and then separating because of it does not sit well with me. I started hearing stories of this- mostly in the form of advice from several people. People that were concerned that this could happen to us. We were so far from that. I have referenced a term many times in my past posts: “Small Win”. How could anything be a win after losing a child? I assure you that during the first year we saw no wins. Everything was the worst. Even small problems seemed to carry crushing effects. But looking back, after trying to find peace and positivity in my life, I have chose to re-think some of these instances.  If I am going to find the positive in this negative situation, I have to go back.

Believe it or not, the day we put Brad’s ashes in the water, we thanked him. It was just the three of us there. Sarah, myself, and Brad approached his forever spot. We had not discussed what we would say. We sat there speechless for a few minutes. Finally, we decided to release his ashes, but before we did, we wanted to say a few words. It had only been a few days after his death, everything was still fresh in our mind. Sarah began to tell him what he meant, how much she loved him, and how he had changed us so much. Then I realized right there, that he had in fact had more of an impact on us than anyone or anything in both of our lives, negatively and positively. I also spoke up, confirming Sarah’s words. We thanked him repeatedly. In that moment, we went on and on about how he, our son, brought us so close to each other. He had given us a new type of life, something we did not know existed until he came into the world. Sarah and I were so much closer. He had given us that. Was that his purpose? I can answer that for him, yes it was. Our son was only in this world for a brief time, but he left the largest impact. So at the time we were telling him this, we were already discovering a type of “Small Win”. But as I said earlier, we saw no wins during the first year. It is only now, by writing, that I have discovered so much. As you read this, do not forget that the purpose of writing this in general was so I would never forget a single moment. In the future I will be able to use these writings. Hopefully I will find new things along the way, even if its years from now.

There are so many things that we will never get to know about Brad, but at least we know his purpose in life.

A Hand Written Letter


In my first post “She Kissed the House”, I explained that the first time I decided to write, it was a letter to Brad. To this day it remains the only thing pertaining to this blog that I have physically written on paper. There is something captivating about a hand-written letter. Written words carry emotions with them. Try this: think about your child or your partner even, sending you a text message that says, “I Love You”. Now, think about finding a post-it note with the same, “I Love You”, but hand-written and signed by that person.

Which one would be more meaningful to you? The note would. Moreover, you would take that note and place it in a special spot. A hand-written note moves you so much that you want to encounter it as often as possible.  I am confident that as you read this you are already envisioning a moment in the past where this has happened to you. This is not some groundbreaking discovery. We all know this.

It was finally time. I had summoned enough courage to pick up the pen. As I started to write, I immediately felt like he was over my shoulder reading every word. Here is where my mind was at that time: if I could speak with Brad, but I only had 5 minutes, what would the conversation be about. He obviously knows how much we miss him. He knows of his brother Brannon and his sister Mila. What could I tell him that he did not know? Something that would impress him, or even make him smile. It did not take long to figure it out. I would explain to him how we chose his name.

At some point in life, every child questions their parents about where their name derived from. Since this was one of the many parent/child moments taken from Sarah and I, it felt like a perfect start. When we chose his name, it felt so right. I had envisioned often the conversations we would have about it. The same conversations I have had with Brannon and even 4-year-old Mila.

My letter to him was simple, it read,

“I can not remember how long it took us to decide your name, but I do know that once we did, we were 100% sure that it would not change. When we started thinking about it we had only one goal in mind, we wanted it to be a very strong name. As I remember it, the first name that came to your mom’s head was her grand father, William Miller. In my mind William was a very strong name, I liked it. I also thought it was pretty cool that my mom’s father was named William as well. It seemed as if it was meant to be! Though it was easy to say that would be your first name, we thought hard about your middle name. Your sister Milas’ name came from a well respected actress. We just thought her name sounded great and was a little different, your mom and I are a little different ourselves, so it just felt right. Naturally it made me think about my favorite actor when thinking of your name, Brad Pitt. So I looked him up on the internet. Guess what? His first name is William. William Bradley Pitt. Again it seemed as if it was meant to be. Also, I found that Brad Pitt was born on a very distinct day, Mila’s birthday. This was now a very easy decision for us. We liked the name so much that we decided to let you go by Brad but keep William as the first name, William Bradley White. Not long after we found out you were a boy we started referring to you as Brad. There was no question, it just seemed right. You were going to go through life as Brad White, which I also thought sounded similar to your brother’s name Brannon White. All these similarities were not coincidence, they were what I saw as signs.”

That is how the letter ended too. I did not want it to end, just in case I left something off, or wanted to pick it back up. The relief I had from that short letter was enormous. It lifted so much weight off me. It made me feel close to him. I am sharing this with you because I feel like it can help you too. Not everything in life comes gift wrapped. Unexpected death of a loved one is the greatest example of that. You wish you could have said goodbye. You think about the last time you saw them. You wish you could communicate to them one last time. The pain is unreal. This short letter relieved some of that pain- not all, but some. Again, I do not think this is a ground breaking discovery, but like anything in life, sometimes you need a little validation. Sometimes you need to know that someone has done something before you yourself will try it. You may have doubts, but hopefully my story helps you push aside some of those doubts.

I have to find something positive within every negative situation, that has become my life goal. That all started the day I picked up the pen and started writing to Brad. You should try it too, you never know where it may lead you.

Strong Men Don’t Cry

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I use to look at a man crying as weak.  It would have to take something major to get a tear out of me.  I had hardened myself for some stupid reason.  That all changed when we lost Brad.  I was about to learn so much about crying.  There were different types of crying: some were easier than others, some last longer, and some even left a headache behind.  Though there were many tearful moments in the 24 hours after losing Brad, there are three times that I remember the most: when I took him out of the room for the last time, calling the funeral home, and when we left the hospital the next morning.

Taking him out of the room, I felt, was my duty as a father. The normal procedure was to call the nurse after our final goodbyes and she would come take him away. I did not want that. I wanted Sarah to see him leave with me. I would escort him to wherever he was going.  It instinctually felt so important. I was able to hold it together as I exited the room. Sarah needed to see me strong, that was my thinking anyway. I took him to the newborn room, gave him back to the nurses, and exited.  As I approached our room, I crumbled. I found a hidden area in the hallway, went there quickly, and sobbed. I could not let anyone hear me, but I was so loud.  I was not use to this. This was not just crying; it was a flood of emotions out of my soul carried by my tears and gasps for breath. I got it together and went back in the room.

The next morning, I had to call the funeral home to set up the cremation. I was good until the lady on the other end of the phone asked me how she could help me. She did nothing wrong, but I was not prepared. How do I say that my child died and I now need him cremated?  I felt an emotional gut punch. It struck me, and like any gut punch, breathing is not exactly simple. The words were hard to say over my gasps, but somehow, I got through it. That was the hardest phone call I ever made.

It was time to leave the hospital. Just like the last two moments, I did not see it coming. As we were driving out of the parking lot, I glanced up at the rearview mirror. For some reason, I felt like I was leaving him behind. Sarah asked me what was wrong as I began to cry. I explained the thought I had, and now we were both sobbing. I mean, what other way would you imagine leaving the hospital after that? 

Crying became normal after a while. It was a daily occurrence for the first couple of months. I remember the first day I made it without crying; it was bittersweet. I cried again the next day. I finally started measuring the days without crying as personal records. Slowly I made it a week, then a month. That was around one year later.  Through the first few months, Sarah and I often told each when we cried. If it happened sometime in the day, we would tell each other that night. We would talk about what triggered it, how long it lasted, where we were. That was ours, something we both had. Though one thing always confused us. We never would breakdown at the same time. When I was good, she was breaking down, and vice versa. We kind of liked it that way. It helped. She would often send a text asking me to come home and hold her, or just walk up to me and be crying with her arms extended out. We always had at least one of us strong.

Months later, there was a day that we were both home, doing different things. I felt the tears coming, I went straight to the front porch. I did not want to trigger Sarah. I cried for a few minutes, and then my phone dinged. It was a text from Sarah. She was asking me to come hold her. That was an immediate indication that something had caused her to start crying too. Finally, we had broken down at the exact same time.

I am not sure why I feel the need to write these moments down. They are hard memories to think about, but I do not want them forgotten. I have learned that when something bad happens, you try to find something positive to take away from it. Sometimes it can be impossible, but if you just try, you may find something. Sarah and I liked it that we never broke down at the same time, but when it happened we felt a sense of relief. It was a small sign that things were going to change for the better. It felt like we were finishing one chapter and starting another.

 

 

His Name Is Sean

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After everything happened, there was one thing for certain: we would try to have another child. We made that decision almost immediately after. We were unsure about so many things, but that was one thing we knew.  This bad thing was not going to stop us from trying again.

On the day we left the hospital, we asked the doctor how soon we could start.  He said we should wait about 6 months to give Sarah’s body time to heal.  This made sense.  She needed time to physically heal.  What we did not know is that it would take much longer to mentally heal.  Even a year after, we were nowhere close to being able to try again.  This in no way reflected the bond between Sarah and me.  We were closer than we had ever been.  I had heard of cases where a couple lost a child and it created this divide in their relationship that often led to divorce.  A friend of mine even told me of a couple he knew personally.  As he explained the details, my body physically hurt.  It was heartbreaking.  I had no clue how this could happen.  It is hard enough losing a child, but I cannot imagine the pain of losing your partner as well.  Of course, there were times where it felt like someone was adding gas to our fire, but nothing ever made us think that the other person was to blame. I never resented Sarah and she never resented me. I felt some relief.  It was a small win in my head.  Sarah and I were ten times closer than we had ever been.  Prior to Brad’s passing, I thought we could not get any closer; how wrong was I.  Sarah and I endured so many battles together.  We were kicking ass, but still hurting so much inside.  We spoke about it often, which, looking back, is probably what made the biggest difference. We knew we were in this together, so we teamed up and helped each other along the way.  Eventually, having another baby became the elephant in the room.  We did not have issues talking about it, but it was hard to commit.  This was going to be an emotional journey.  Maybe this is the reason why I had made so many changes in my life; I was subconsciously preparing myself.  All I knew was something inside of me was pushing my transformation and I was not going to ignore it.  With so many things going right, there was no better time.  What were we waiting on?  I guess we had healed enough, though we are still nowhere close to being fully healed.  Realistically, we never will be, but this was the right time.

After a few months of trying, we got the news; Sarah was pregnant.  I cannot describe the outpour of joy from the people in our lives.  It was like everyone was quietly sitting on the sidelines, cheering us on, and finally they could share their excitement.  The reactions made me appreciate the fact that there is some level of goodness inside of every person.  Again, we had another small win.  Did Brad’s passing actually create something good?  Was there an answer somewhere out there to why it happened?  Deep down inside of me, I felt like somehow I can figure this out.  I am a problem solver, a thinker.  This was the same time that I decided to pull the trigger on writing.  Too many things have pointed me in this direction, and if I intended on getting an answer, I would have to do it this way.  With the new baby on the way, I was reliving so many painful memories, so why not use that time to make it as positive and meaningful as possible.

This was and is a happy time for us.  Sarah and I felt deep down inside there was no way we are not having a boy.  We were so convinced that we had only decided on a boy’s name.  We had little doubt.  Then the day came, we got to find out the baby’s gender.  It was a boy.  Sarah cried hard, I just shook my head; we were so happy.  We knew this would happen.  It was a small piece of validation for me.  I had changed so much, not knowing exactly why.  I just tried being a more positive person, removing the negatives qualities of myself.  When I did, positive things came in return.  This was the ultimate reward.  Our new baby’s name will be Sean Alexander and, of course, I have told anyone that will listen.  You can choose to look at this however you want, but, to me, there are two different explanations:  First, the life that was not able to enter this world, because of whatever reason, is now getting another chance; or secondly, that his beautiful soul is somewhere out there and he is sending us confirmation.  You may agree or disagree, but all I ask is for you to dig deep. We have the right as humans to formulate our own opinions.  My goal is to ignite the positive inside us all.   When you find it, you will experience how positive thinking and acting can create tremendous rewards.  I want to end this chapter a different way. Ironically my good friend, a guy of great inspiration to me, sent me a text message just before Sarah and I received the news that we were having a boy. He had no idea where we were, but his timing is unexplainable. He had been listening to a Podcast and heard someone discussing this subject, so he put it in his own words and sent it to me. The text read, “Happiness generally does not come from the addition of positive, but more so from the removal of negative.”

She Is A Star

I could not begin to tell you much about the morning leading up to what would be the worst day of our lives. Though two things about that morning, I do still remember. One was the fact that I had stopped in to the local barber shop for a haircut that morning. Nothing was abnormal about that. I used to go there every other week. However, the second thing I remember was quite abnormal.

I will start by giving you a brief description of one of my co-workers, we will call her Star. She has an extremely positive outlook on life. Her positive energy can be felt while you are in her presence. There is not anything negative you can say about her. If she had one downfall, it would be that she smiles so much it makes you envy her happiness. Those that know her know that she is one of a kind. There is no duplicate.

I had worked with her for a couple of years at this point. It was not uncommon to bump into her on a daily basis around work. Though on this day, the encounter was different. It was time for me to leave work and meet Sarah at our final doctor’s appointment. This was to be the last visit. We were to discuss with the doctor the final details about inducing labor in exactly one week. As I walked out the gate and turned the corner, I noticed Star from behind. She was in the process of hugging two other girls from work, on the sidewalk. This was not surprising to me. It was not abnormal, but the three of them were blocking my walk way. I was only a few feet from my vehicle. The two other girls could see me trying to walk by, but her back was to me and she did not see me. This entire process did not take long, maybe 10 seconds. As she turned around and saw me waiting to get by, you could describe her initial emotion as one of slight embarrassment. Maybe I startled her, but her next move was not what I anticipated. She looked at me and smiled, and without much thought at all, she hugged me too. She had never hugged me. Hugging co-workers is not something that I do very often, it is just not me, but she did not care or even think about it. Could her hug have symbolized something? She did not know where I was leaving to go to. She had no clue that within 30 minutes of our contact I would be in the worst experience of my life. What did it mean? Why did it stick with me? I thought about it almost immediately after hearing the horrible news. I knew she would remember this moment too, because it was special. I knew that this was not just something that happens every day in her life. It was like someone was trying to give me some sort of comfort, and they chose the perfect person to send it through.

It took me a few weeks to return to work after that day. I had not spoken to many people at work until I returned. Truthfully, I wanted to talk to her so bad. The question was there. I thought about it almost daily. Did she remember this? Was it as meaningful to her as it was to me? Finally after days of her not being at work, she appeared. I was so joyed, but I had to keep in my happiness. What if she did not remember? We bumped into each other in the alley way. I immediately knew she wanted to talk. We stopped right where we made contact and we poured it all out. I asked her within the first minute of our initial contact. She remembered, I was so happy. She went on to explain the impact it had on her as well. She did know the irony of it. She put it together after she had learned the news. Our talk was great, it helped me so much. The anticipation was finally gone, I had my confirmation. She was the last person I made contact with prior to the horrible event. How fitting, the most positive uplifting person I know, giving me the ultimate sign of care.

I think that when we go through tough times, something inside of us tries to find the source, or the reason for why it happened. We lost our child that day. Nothing was going to change the severity of that, but I cannot let that be the end. Who knows if we will ever know the reason? What I do know is that there were so many positive moments that came wrapped deep within this. My biggest fear is that those multiple small positive moments will be forgotten and the only memory that remains will be the large negative one. I will not allow it.

I assure you that these occurrences happen to you more than you think. You will notice them if you keep your mind open, and full of positive thoughts.

This Was The Moment

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Let me start by apologizing. I am sorry for the sadness that you are about to feel. Though I feel that the details of this moment are very important.

Even for the routine visits, Sarah always wanted me there, for every appointment. Yes, Sarah can worry a bit, but what made her so cautious? Why did she think I needed to be there? She basically explained that I needed to be there just in case something bad happened. Is that some sort of intuition?  I presume that most women probably feel this way during pregnancy. I guess it is heightened senses. Whatever the case, she wanted me there and I never questioned it.

Each visit always started the same. First, we have a brief conversation with the nurse, a few questions, and then a quick listen to the baby’s heartbeat with a small handheld device. At this point, we knew the routine. With only one week left, this was our last appointment.  If she did not go into labor before then, we would induce. It was the exact same thing we did with our first child. Nowhere in my mind did I think this would not be a normal visit. Previously, there were times the nurse could not find the heartbeat immediately, but after a couple of tries, it would appear. So when this occurred, I did not think anything of it and remained calm. The nurse went out to get a more experienced nurse. This woman was full of confidence as she walked in.  “Let me find this will quick,” she said.  She gave no signs of doubt, so I did not either. However, I could tell Sarah had doubts. I maintained my optimistic look, as the second nurse tried for a few minutes and decided we should try the ultrasound machine.  So we went to that room and, again, we were met with the positive and optimistic approach of the ultrasound tech. She made us feel like this was not anything to worry about. We would get to the bottom of this and she would prove that everything was fine. The doctor was with us now.  He tried with the hand held device, but also had no luck. I should have known something was not right, but I would not allow myself to believe the worst. I remained optimistic up until the words came out the doctor’s mouth. The moment can only be described as a wrecking ball suddenly crashing through our souls. As soon as the ultrasound showed a clear picture of Brad, the doctor knew. He wasted no time. He was as professional and considerate as you could be in a situation like this. He looked at Sarah and said, “I’m sorry. He has passed.”

I did not see this coming. I was not prepared. The wrecking ball came crashing in and our souls laid in ruins. It immediately caused tremendous damage, taking a part from each of us. I wish I could remember everything the doctor said after that. I had a million thoughts rushing through my mind as he explained the process of how we would deliver Brad’s lifeless body into the world. He made it quick.  He said we could take as much time as we needed, then stepped out of the room. Obviously, we were both crying. As the door shut, my first thought was, “If I am hurting this bad, Sarah must be hurting 10 times worse.” Some sort of switch went off inside of me and I went straight to her. I repeatedly told her that this was not her fault. We did not know at the time what caused his passing, but I knew she would immediately start thinking the worst. It was the only thing I could think about: Just make her understand that she was not the cause of this. Truthfully, in that moment, the cause did not matter. The reality was that he was gone and we were hurting. We held each other tight for what seemed like an hour. At that moment, we let go of each other and faced the inevitable. It was the beginning of something that was about to change our lives forever.

The process of inducing labor and delivery would take about six to seven hours. It is the exact the same way you would induce and deliver any baby. It was the same way we were supposed to do it in just one week. We were assigned a specific nurse by the doctor. He explained that she was a cut above the rest.  He assigned her to us specifically and we were to utilize her as much as we needed. She came in with the utmost confidence and told us the details. Upon some of our initial questions, she did not have the answers. She told us that she too was going through this for the first time. She knew this was not a normal child delivery, but she was willing to go through it with us. We could tell she was fully committed. Her lack of experience in still births (a term we hate to use) was not going to hinder her support. She maintained the upmost professionalism, poise, and confidence. I am sure behind the scenes she had other emotions, but she did not let us know that. She was a small rock of stability, not a mountain, but a small rock. Nonetheless, in that moment, she was our only support.

Family came in and the questions began. The most difficult question was why it happened. No one had that answer. Then, it was time. This is supposed to go so much differently. This is when the excitement is supposed to occur, when you should have tears of joy upon seeing your new baby. I could not look. I just stayed as close to Sarah as I possibly could. Our faces’ were side by side, mine looking away. The doctor gave the command for the final push and I heard him gasp. He was the first to see the cause of death. The doctor asked me to look down at Brad. I hesitated, but my curiosity took over. I trusted our doctor and I knew he would not ask me to look if it was not a good reason. I looked down and saw the doctor holding him. Brad’s umbilical cord was entangled in his legs. The reason was clear now. A small sense of relief was present, but it was short lived. The emptiness inside of us only grew larger. He was now here in our presence, but he was lifeless. We knew this was going to be the reality, but now we were facing it. How was this fair? I became angry. I am still angry. I cannot explain our pain. We were somewhat lifeless too. We physically felt pain inside of us. It makes no sense, but it is the only way to describe it. Sarah was hurting. I was hurting.  As I saw her pain increase, I felt more and more useless.

I wish I could end this post with some sort of positive takeaway, but there is no way to do that. However, this moment is important. This moment is the base of the story. This is where we were mentally. We were empty. It seemed like there was a dark cloud hovering over us.