Monday, June 8, 2009

Our Story

I've wanted to put something together to post for a long time but didn't have the courage strength to do it. I know many of you who are visiting from other blogs or websites and are praying for us have wondered what happened...

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


my3sons said...

I have no words except to say I am so very sorry. My heart literally ached when I read your words. I pray for healing of your heart. Thank you for sharing your story with us; I know it isn't easy. Katie

Beth.. One Blessed Nana said...


My heart just hurs for you, but I am glad that you shared your story with us as this is probably a step toward "letting" you heart heal. I pray for God's restoring grace in your life and I pray that you will be able to move forward and realize that you aren't leaving Brayden behind, but making a step closer to life with him one day.

Sometimes in our deepest darkness, we tap into God's greatest grace.

I post prayer for you on my prayer blog. I hope that is OK. I was in prayer for you Saturday as well.

I don't know you, but the Lord has just kept you on my heart.

In His Grip of Grace,

Grandma~rella said...

((((((Michelle)))))) I'm sending tons of virtual (((HUGS)) for you right now, sweetheart. Sharing your story takes such raw courage and it is my belief, this is the beginning of some real, down to earth healing for you. I am here...not going anywhere. Like I mentioned before, for some reason I felt this 'connection' from the first time I stumbled upon your blog.
Thank you for sharing your sweet boy, sweet family. Always, always know...your little Angel is watching out for you from Heaven...every rain drop, every ray of sun, every whisk of wind upon your face, your sweet Brayden is right there with you. Every time your heart beats and with every breath...your Angel is watching over you and loving his Momma. He does not and will never blame you, sweet Michelle...he KNOWS how much you love him and he KNOWS how deeply your heart breaks. Brayden is so proud of his Momma...she is a wonderful Momma. BELIEVE...
(((HUGS))) G'Ma~rella

Snarky Mom said...

My heart just bleeds for you and for your pain. I so very sorry for your loss and I hope that sharing your story helps in your healing. I know your instinct is to blame yourself, I know because I've been there. Please don't, it's impossible to heal a broken heart that is filled with shame and blame. Lifting you up in prayer.

Melina said...

Many hugs for you. My heart is breaks for you. But is healed and whole in Heaven, rest assured!

Mark's Mommy said...


I just came across your blog this morning and I am overwhelmed. We lost our 2 year old son this past August on family camping trip. He got away for just a split second and drowned in the lake, even though we found him right away.

I know every emotion that you are experiencing, every nightmare, every day that is almost impossible to endure. I know how time has frozen, how it doesn't even seem like it can all be real, how the images of the accident never go away, how your arms ache to hold your son. I know.

I just started my own blog that I would like for you to visit...maybe we can encourage each other on this horrible journey of grief. (Mark's story is the first post)

I am so glad that you shared your is so difficult to share with others, but I know that it helps. I have felt such overwhelming guilt and feel so isolated from the rest of the world, but I have felt better in sharing my pain. I feel especially blessed finding your blog, because I know that we can understand each other.

I know that God is in control, even when we don't feel that He is. I have to remind myself every day. I also have to remind myself that this can happen to ANYONE!!! If there is anyone who thinks that it couldn't happen to them...they are absolutely fooling themselves. It is just that nobody wants to even imagine having to go through this.

I will be thinking of you constantly.

Mark's Mommy

Linda said...

So sad! I pray that God will continue to comfort your hurting hearts.

Linda @Truthful Tidbits

Annette said...

Michelle, this is for you and all the other people who may have lost someone very precious in their was given to me when Gavin passed...
To my dearest family, some things I'd like to say...
but first of all, to let you know, that I arrived okay.
I'm writing this from heaven. Here I dwell with God above.
Here, there's no more tears of sadness; here is just eternal love.

Please do not be unhappy just because I'm out of sight.
Remember that I'm with you every morning, noon and night.
That day I had to leave you when my life on earth was through,
God picked me up and hugged me and He said, "I welcome you."

It's good to have you back again; you were missed while you were gone.
As for your dearest family, they'll be here later on.
I need you here badly; you're part of my plan.
There's so much that we have to do, to help our mortal man."

God gave me a list of things, that he wished for me to do.
And foremost on the list, was to watch and care for you.
And when you lie in bed at night, the day's chores put to flight.
God and I are closest to the middle of the night.

When you think of my life on earth, and all those loving years
because you are only human, they are bound to bring you tears.
But do not be afraid to cry; it does relieve the pain.
Remember there would be no flowers, unless there was some rain.

I wish that I could tell you all that God has planned.
But if I were to tell you, you wouldn't understand.
But one thing is for certain, though my life on earth is o'er.
I'm closer to you now, than I ever was before.

There are many rocky roads ahead of you and many hills to climb;
but together we can do it by taking one day at a time.
It was always my philosophy and I'd like it for you too...
that as you give unto the world, the world will give to you.

If you can help somebody who's in sorrow and pain,
then you can say to God at night......"My day was not in vain."
And now I am contented....that my life has been worthwhile,
knowing as I passed along the way, I made somebody smile.

So if you meet somebody who is sad and feeling low,
just lend a hand to pick him up, as on your way you go.
When you're walking down the street, and you've got me on your mind;
I'm walking in your footsteps only half a step behind.

And when it's time for you to go.... from that body to be free,
remember you're not're coming here to me.

Marlene said...

I hurt for you and can't even come up with words to say. I just feel horrible for what has happened to you and your family. May Gods love and peace continue to heal you and your family. I'm so very sorry.

Karol said...

Walking this painful journey right along with you. Our beautiful Jalayne Grace went to be with Jesus in September 2009, after a pool accident. My heart aches for you and me and all the others who must walk this path.

Jeanne Young said...

My name is Jeannie, and I am Ginger Hoffman's sister-in-law. I was so touched when she posted Brayden's picture and the link to your sight. There are no words that could ever express how much I hurt for you. I have lost a 6 year old nephew to complications of cerebal palsy and a 19 year old niece to a herion od, both were very difficult, but they were not my children.

I have 2 adult children, both who suffer from Bi-polar Disorder and I've survived several suicide attempts with both of them, and still I don't think I can begin to understand your pain or loss.

What I can share with you is that I admire and thank you for sharing your story, as well as your son, Brayden, with all of us. People need to hear stories like this in order to put their own lives into perspective. Just as there needs to be dark to appreciate the light, cold to be comforted by the warmth, and bad times so that we might enjoy the good times!!!

Brayden reminds us to make the most of every day, to complain less, to find joy in the moment, and to give our sorrow and tears to God who has much broader shoulders than we do and therefore is able to handle it all.

You now have the chance to continue to build a stronger life, marriage, and family in the Lord, and continue to Praise him by loving and sharing the joy of Brayden's life with as many people as possible. My prayers are with you and yours.