The pain is so raw.. guilt and shame so fresh.. it's hard to get out the words. But I know it is part of the healing. I know that His Grace covers me, that His strength takes over in my weakness, and that "those who sow in tears, will reap joy." Psalm 126:5
So here it is... The story of us, and our precious Brayden
My name is Michelle, I am a wife to Jacob, and mommy to three precious gifts; Nathaniel, Brayden, and Elliana. Brayden Russell joined our family on January 5, 2007. When Brayden was 6 months old we made the big move south to be near my family. This was a fresh start for us as a family and we were so excited about the things that were ahead. Jake got a job working at a Toyota dealership, we bought our first house and started our new life in South Carolina.
Just a few months after moving to SC I found out I was pregnant with our third baby. This was a big surprise as we were planning to wait a few years before having more children. Then on June 6th, 2008 our world turned upside down. Nathaniel, who was just a few weeks from turning 4 and Brayden, who was 17 months old, got out the back door without anyone noticing. Once in the backyard Brayden climbed the ladder to our above ground pool... and fell in. Moments later as Jake noticed the boys were not around and ran to the back door, Nathaniel came running towards him. “Where’s Brayden?” Daddy yelled, and Nathaniel pointed to the pool. Our worst nightmare had taken place. Jake quickly pulled Brayden from the pool and called 9-1-1. He began CPR until the emergency medical team arrived. They continued to work on Him while we gathered with Nathaniel inside. There were lots of questions that could not be answered and we did our best to explain things to the Police and Investigators who had arrived. Time seemed to stand still yet the world was spinning. I could not sit still but could hardly stand up. What felt like hours later, they told us the news that they had done all they could. Brayden was no longer with us. Everything inside me collapsed. No words can accurately describe the emotion or feelings we were experiencing in those moments. This couldn’t possibly have happened. Surely, there was something else that could be done... but it was too late.
We were blessed with 17 incredible months with our precious little boy. Brayden was such a happy baby. He had an incredible smile and contagious laugh that would brighten anyone’s day and melt your heart. He was my lil pumkin.. and stayed very small for his age. Brayden also loved to cuddle. I got lots of hugs and cuddle time with my brady boo and loved every minute of it! He always wanted to be in the center of everything, never wanted to be left out and would jump right in with his brother. Brayden was so dramatic.. though he only spoke few words he said so much through his expressions. I am so thankful for all the memories… I will forever cherish every moment we shared.
It is now June of 2009. It has been a year since we lost our precious baby boy. Life is hard and we struggle each day with facing our “new” normal. The following months after Brayden’s death included the hardest pregnancy I’ve experienced full of bittersweet feelings. As a behavioral therapist working with children with Autism, I was unable to return to work due to the emotional strain and stress involved. I could barely handle the daily tasks of taking care of my self and Nathaniel. Elliana Grace was born 6 months later, on December 4, 2008. She brings us so much joy and we are blessed to have her as part of our family. The pain from loosing Brayden is still fresh and the grief so raw that we struggle each day. Jake, who returned to work after a few weeks, puts in long hours and works so hard to do the best he can to support our family. Work has been very slow recently and finances are extremely tight. Bills are adding up and things are taking a toll on him, as well as on us as a family. Our marriage has also had its share of struggles. Grief is such an individual and unique experience and it is difficult to help and support one another. I heard it best said “it is like two wet noodles, trying to hold each other up.”
Though our faith has been shaken, we are doing what we can to hang on to the strength we have in Christ and the hope that He offers for our future. We may never understand God’s plan, this side of Heaven, but we are trying to put our trust in Him to make it through. Our hearts desire is to honor the life that Brayden lived and allow God to use this journey to touch the lives of others. We are blessed to have an incredible support system of friends and family around us as well as an amazing church that has gone over and beyond what we could have ever imagined.
We are here... and we are surviving... by His Grace.
…“and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain..." Revelation 21:4