I can’t believe it has been a year already. Where has the time gone? In a way it still feels so fresh and raw, but on the other hand like a distant memory.
We celebrated Freddie Leigh Bromley, our beautiful son, on his first birthday on Saturday 16th August. It was a gorgeous day and probably one of the best days of our lives. We were so lucky with the weather as it was a warm and sunny day making everything so much brighter and easier.
The day started off with being delivered our local newspaper, within which Rik and I had written a piece in honour of Freddie. Rik and I then visited Freddie’s plaque at Vale Church, Guernsey. We visit his plaque every week or every other week but it had more meaning on this day. Rik and I were all dressed up and Grammie (my mother) had visited the night before and filled his vases with beautiful hydrangeas, a flower we had at Freddie’s funeral. When the sun shines the plaque gets lovely and warm. We brush our hands over the stone and take in the warmth of it when our lips touch it as we give it a gentle kiss.
We then went on to Bordeaux Nature Reserve where Freddie’s bench is. It’s a lovely open space with trees, a rope swing and a stunning view out to Herm island. We spent an hour preparing the area with flowers, colourful ribbons, blankets, Freddie’s baby shower bunting and candles. It was hard to decide where everything went but once we had finished the area looked stunning.
Two of our friends had kindly agreed to play some instrumental music whilst people arrived. People later told me that it was so lovely arriving at the car park and following the music to guide them to our location. Mikey and Sarah were amazing playing some beautiful songs on their guitar and violin. I then welcomed everyone to the event with the following words I had written:
Thank you for joining us in celebrating our son Freddie’s first birthday. And yes it is his birthday. He was born and so he has a birth day. Freddie may not be here to celebrate being one year’s old today but WE are celebrating him, his nine month life growing inside me and that a year ago today at 10.27pm, he was born earth side.
When celebrating birthdays we can sometimes forget that our mothers gave birth to us on that day and they are also remembering that day. We will always celebrate his birthday and so we are very blessed to have so many of our friends and family here to celebrate his first birthday.
You may think we wish to forget that day but it was one of the best days of our lives. We met our son, held him, introduced him to our family and kissed him goodnight.
A year on and we are stronger as a couple and stronger as a family. We have learnt what is, and isn’t, important about life, why every moment counts and that having fun, love and laughter is key. So today whilst honouring our son Freddie, we want you to smile and laugh after all he was born with a smile on his face.
Rik then explained the order for the event:
To celebrate Freddie’s birthday we have asked some good friends of ours to perform some music for our gathering today. Firstly we would like to say a huge thanks to Mike and Sarah, for playing some beautiful music whilst you all arrived.
At the start of 2014 Nicole joined a special group of ladies called the Johnny’s Angels choir. A few members of the choir have kindly agreed to sing four beautiful songs picked by Nicole from their summer repertoire. Nicole and I thank you for agreeing to be a part of today. I will now hand you over to Kate Woodcock who will introduce the first two songs which will be followed by a balloon release and then two other songs.
Mike and Sarah will then kindly play again whilst we invite anyone who would like to write a message to Freddie on a tag and attach it to his tree.
Please feel free to hang around afterwards and make the most of this beautiful area. This gathering is a very easy going affair so relax, enjoy and join us in celebrating our cherished button-nosed Freddie Leigh Bromley!
Johnny’s Angels choir sang ‘The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face’ and then ‘Amazing Grace’. I had wondered whether I should sing with the choir or not, but it was actually really lovely to step back and listen to them as their audience. I was definitely touched by their singing and had to get a hanky out pretty much as soon as they started singing their first song!
Rik and I then released a balloon with our tag tied to the bottom. We counted to three and then got everyone to shout ‘FREDDIE’ as we released the balloon into the sky. We were so lucky with the wind as it took the balloon out and across to Herm so everyone got to watch it go off into the distance.
Here are some pictures from the release…
As we stepped down from standing on the bench, we heard someone starting to sing Freddie happy birthday. I think other people didn’t know whether to join in, so Rik and I sang along loudly and I put my finger up in the air as if to conduct our guests to sing along whilst we watched Freddie’s balloon float off into the distance. It was a lovely moment and I wonder where Freddie’s balloon is now.
Johnny’s Angels choir then sang ‘Songbird’ followed by ‘Hushabye Mountain’. These are two very special songs because Eva Cassidy’s version of Songbird was actually played at Freddie’s funeral and Hushabye Mountain was the song I had to sing to audition to get into the choir and is my favourite of all our songs.
We then invited our guests to tie their tag in honour of Freddie. I had done some research on memorial ideas and came across a lovely idea to tie string around a tree and pin photographs of the lost loved one to it. This wasn’t quite right for Freddie so I combined this with a similar idea that someone had given me in a local pregnancy loss online help group to tie message tags to a tree. I thought this was a perfect idea so all our friends and family could write Freddie a message on their tag. We had toyed with the idea of getting everyone to tie their tag to a balloon and have a group balloon release, but selfishly I wanted to read all the tags and have them as a keepsake of the day, so the tree worked perfectly. We even found a special place on the tree for Freddie’s monkey Eric.
Rik and I then spent time chatting with our guests and catching up with our friends. We were so touched with how many people came to support us on this special day. We had encouraged our friends to bring their babies/children and although hard not to have Freddie there to play with them, it was delightful to know that Freddie had brought our friends together. The kids loved the area and enjoyed taking turns to have a go on the swing and then entertained themselves by picking blackberries. It was nice to see them running around, excited and enjoying themselves with faces covered in blackberry juice. As people began to leave we encouraged the children to take one of the ribbons scattered around the area home with them.
We packed up the area once everyone had left and then spent a gorgeous afternoon at Rik’s dad’s house where we chatted, laughed, drank Prosecco, released further balloons and then devoured fish and chips. Rik and I had chosen this meal because, believe it or not, it was Freddie’s last meal so it just felt right for the day.
Rik and I managed to get home in time for Freddie’s special time which is when we light his candle from 10.27pm to 10.34pm in honour of his birth. We have been doing this ritual on the 16th of each month but will now be doing it yearly. We then sat down and read through all the tags, opened some presents we had been given and talked over how the day had gone. We both said how perfect it had been and just what we had imagined. We couldn’t have asked for more. We just hope that Freddie got our message in the sky and saw how loved and cherished he is.
I am proud to say he is my son, my one year old angel son. x