Freddie’s First Birthday Memorial Event

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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.

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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. Rik and I speech 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!

Johnny's Angels

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…

Continue reading Freddie’s First Birthday Memorial Event

2013 made me stronger because……

I can see a rainbow
I can see a rainbow

As the last few hours of 2013 approach, I want to reflect on what a year this has been for me and my family.  You may think I just want to see the back of 2013 and wipe it out of my life, but in fact I want to do the opposite.

Yes some events of 2013 have broken my heart and changed me forever, but it’s not all doom and gloom.  If I just sat here and dwelled on the bad, I wouldn’t be able to get out of bed everyday.  There have been some days I have wanted to stay in bed and hide myself away from family, work, chores, friends, life, news and just thinking, but if anything, 2013 has taught me what to get out of bed for.

2013 made me stronger because………it gave my family hope, happiness and excitement when we were still raw from my auntie passing away from cancer in Dec 2012 and attending her funeral in Jan 2013.  It was so hard having such good news to share with my family when I know they were still grieving for the loss of auntie Bun.  I was torn between being so elated to be expecting my first child and feeling so sad that she had lost her brave and courageous fight.  The news of bringing new life into the family made us strong and happy again.  I thank 2013 for that.

2013 made me stronger because……..it made me realise that there is a time when you must admit to yourself that for all your best efforts and interest in something, if it becomes a chore and you start to not enjoy it anymore, it is not a failure to walk away.  I am proud that Rik and I set up the Guernsey Dub Collective Volkswagen club in 2012 but the lack of enthusiasm and support was draining us both.  We could have carried on and dragged it along but what was the point when we weren’t getting any pleasure from it.  It took courage for us to be strong enough to walk away from it knowing that we had tried.  I thank 2013 for that.

2013 made me stronger because……..after carrying my son for 39 weeks and 5 days I lay silently in bed breathing through my contractions throughout the night of August 15th whilst I let Rik sleep so he was rested in the morning.  I was scared and excited but I now know that I am brave and strong because I worked with my body and started labour spontaneously on my own.  I thank 2013 for that.

2013 made me stronger because………after carrying my son for 39 weeks and 6 days and being told my son had passed during early labour, I supported my husband whilst he broke down and sobbed in my arms.  I didn’t realise I was strong enough to keep it together for the both of us.  I couldn’t have made the decisions about my body that I had to make that day if I hadn’t kept it together.  I thank 2013 for that.

2013 made me stronger because……..three weeks after loosing my son, I found out that I no longer had job security and coped with the fear and confusion this came with on top of everything else.  I dealt with the news in a mature and dignified way and now have the opportunity to stop and look at the options available to me.  I feel more determined to look after myself and be valued.  I thank 2013 for that.

2013 made me stronger because……..when I was trying to pick myself up things kept knocking me down but I kept picking myself up.  I was constantly seeing doctors and specialists getting tests, scans and checks done but this, and constantly being on antibiotics for a while, didn’t break me.  I found strength in the fact that I was being looked after, needed to recuperate and that things could only get better.  I was finally given a good clean bill of health in December.  I thank 2013 for that.

2013 made me stronger because……..after waiting for three months to get the full post-mortem results, I have not been deterred from trying for another baby again in the future, even though what happened could happen again.  I now have a lot more knowledge about my body and pregnancy and will be monitored more in any future pregnancies.  I thank 2013 for that.

2013 made me stronger because……..it made me realise what a blessing it is to have children and that if I am lucky enough to be pregnant again, how I must cherish every moment as you never know what the outcome is.  I thank 2013 for that.

2013 made me stronger because……..it made me realise the importance of life, to not get weighed down with things that don’t make you happy and make you grow as a person and appreciate good friends on a stronger level.  2013 has shown me true friendships and that the best things in life are free.  I thank 2013 for that.

2013 made me stronger because……..it gave me the courage to reignite a passion for music and singing and to audition for a local choir in 2014.  I thank 2013 for that.

2013 made me stronger because……..it taught my family that life is short and we must embrace the time we have together.  By doing this, it has brought my family closer together which makes me happier.  I thank 2013 for that.

2013 made me stronger because………it reminded me how lucky I am to have Rik by my side to experience life’s highs and lows with.  It made me appreciate him more and love him deeper, and made us stronger as a couple.  I know that we can get through anything now.  I thank 2013 for that.

Finally, 2013 made me stronger because………it gave me the courage to see a rainbow and that there is still hope, happiness and excitement for 2014.  I thank 2013 for that.

Dear Freddie from mummy and daddy

Lights of Love 2013
Lights of Love 2013

Rik and I want to share with you something that we wrote in honour of our Freddie.

We had hoped to write something for his funeral but ran out of time so when Tania Shires from the local Sands (Stillbirth and Neonatal Death Society) charity asked us to do a reading at the Lights of Love carol service, we knew that this was our opportunity to finally write something special to read out for Freddie.

‘Dear Freddie from mummy and daddy’ is written by us both and is several short one line letters to Freddie.  It is written in a way that suggests Freddie has not gone from our lives forever but is merely off on a journey.  We were worried it was a bit self-indulgent for the service but hoped that those attending would relate to it, or at least parts of it.

Here is our special reading for Freddie, hope you like it.

Dear Freddie from mummy and daddy

Dear Freddie I hope you don’t mind us writing to you but you’re not here you see. (N)

Dear Freddie I know you can’t respond, but you don’t need to, I know you can hear us. (R)

Dear Freddie I was expecting you but you left before I could say hi. (N)

Dear Freddie I cherish the time we had together, speaking to you in your home. (R)

Dear Freddie I am sorry mummy and daddy raised their voices during your last week here. (N)

Dear Freddie I know that you love us, there is no doubt of that. (R)

Dear Freddie I hope you are enjoying your new home and not making too much of a mess. (N)

Dear Freddie I know your home here was ready, but you had to go somewhere else. (R)

Dear Freddie I keep finding things of yours all around the house that you left behind. (N)

Dear Freddie I know that just like your Daddy you love to dance. (R)

Dear Freddie I cried the last time I saw you, I should have smiled – I apologise. (N)

Dear Freddie I rocked you when I held you, it felt like the most natural thing to do. (R)

Dear Freddie I’ve been telling lots of people about you, they all send their love. (N)

Dear Freddie I can’t believe the amount of people your short time here has affected. (R)

Dear Freddie I wish you could be here as we are all missing you terribly. (N)

Dear Freddie I wish you could have stuck around, you know we would have had so much fun. (R)

Dear Freddie I want you to visit us, your aunties, uncles, cousins and grandparents again very soon. (N)

Dear Freddie I wonder what you would have been, a fireman, a doctor, a dancer maybe. (R)

Dear Freddie I’ve been looking out for you and I think I may have seen you a few times. (N)

Dear Freddie I cherish our time together but some days are tougher than others. (R)

Dear Freddie I’m keeping myself busy but I am always thinking of you and your new friends. (N)

Dear Freddie I bet you are being well looked after, that’s my boy. (R)

Dear Freddie I really hope you will be a big brother one day, a job I know you will be great at. (N)

Dear Freddie I know this hole will never be filled, my longing will never pass. (R)

Dear Freddie I know how hard you fought to meet mummy and daddy, we are so proud of you and love our brave angel very much. (N)

Sleep tight. (N and R)

Written and read by Nicole & Rik Bromley in honour of Freddie Leigh Bromley.

The Lights of Love carol service held last night at Forest Church was the second of its type.  It is a non-denominational candlelit service of carols and readings, lead by Rev Linda Le Vasseur, to honour our loved children who are no longer with us, before we celebrate Christmas.  Eight other Lights of Love services took place simultaneously in Huddersfield, London, Stirling, Nottingham, Portadown, Cardiff, Norwich and Liverpool.

It was the first time we had attended this service and we were overwhelmed by how special it was.  Hundreds of candles were placed around the church lit for our loved ones. You were able to write a personal message and hang it on a Christmas tree surrounded by candles.  This tree would stay in the church throughout the Christmas period and tags could be added by visitors to the church.

The service included eight readings and six carols plus Aindre Reece-Sheerin singing Gabriel’s song, a circle dance performed by the Guernsey Circle Dancers to Berceuse and Kim Spaargaren singing at the end.  Everyone that attended received a Lights of Love Christmas tree decoration and was invited to light a candle in memory of loved ones.

Attending this type of service is not only a time to think about lost loved ones but to feel safe with a group of people who understand what you are going through.  It was truly special and I look forward to attending next year.

Lights of Love 2013 - Message Tree
Lights of Love 2013 – Message Tree
Lights of Love 2013 - Freddie's Tag
Lights of Love 2013 – Freddie’s Tag

An Aunt’s Perspective: My Journey With & Without My Nephew Freddie

When Nic asked me to contribute to her blog I was really touched and honoured and I had no hesitation in taking part.  Having watched Nic write about her inner most thoughts and feelings during the month of October, it felt really natural to write about how it feels from an auntie’s perspective to lose my precious nephew, Freddie.

Freddie, as he is now known, spent most of Nic’s pregnancy known to me as ‘Ickle Ricole’. It was only on the day I got to meet Freddie that his name was revealed so for most of this blog I will be referring to him as ‘Ickle Ricole’.

So when did my journey with Ickle Ricole begin?  Well I had the amazing fortune to find out I was going to be an auntie twice!!  The first time was on the night James Arthur won the X Factor.  I had invited Nic and Rik round for dinner and it is fair to say that a few cocktails were consumed that evening.  As the taxi drew up, Rik went outside and Nic grabbed me in my hallway and in a slightly tipsy state revealed that she was a day or so late and that she was possibly pregnant.  I remember jumping up and down in my hallway absolutely elated and then going into complete panic mode that I had just spent the whole night supplying her with alcohol!

The next morning I was just beside myself and Nic realised what she had revealed and tried to put me off the scent.  I remember feeling absolutely gutted that it was not the case, so when Nic revealed on Boxing Day at Mum’s that she was in fact pregnant, well it was double elation.  Secretly I still consider the first time I found out in my hallway and I will treasure that memory forever!

Knowing that I was going to be an auntie filled me with so much pride and adulation. Having never been a mum myself, or lucky enough to be gifted the title of a godmother, I just could not wait to be the best auntie ever.  However, despite my complete and utter joy for my sister and my brother-in-law there was a part of me, if I am brutally honest, that was incredibly jealous.

For the first time in my life I was not going to be the first for something.  I had been the first-born, to go to school and university, to get a job, to get married etc., but Nic was going be the first to give my parents the most truly extraordinary gift of being a grandparent. For months I silently struggled with these thoughts whilst Nic was expecting and I remember so vividly sitting in the hospital room on the day Nic and Rik lost Freddie feeling so guilty that I had ever had these thoughts.

After we found out Ickle Ricole was a boy, I think I was most looking forward to watching him grow, laugh, throw funny tantrums or to say a kid’s favourite word “why?” a million times, but most of all bake cakes with him.  As a boy he probably would have absolutely hated it but I could not wait to have him stand at the cooker and teach him, like my Grannie taught me, how much fun you could have baking in the kitchen.

It evoked so many memories for me and I just could not wait to throw mini sports day competitions in mum’s garden and present him with little cups and trophies like our Grannie did with us or teach him how to get all arty and crafty and watch him take back to his mummy and daddy everything he had made with his auntie Chellebelle (as I am known) and seeing their faces.  I could not wait for my fridge to be covered in Ickle Ricole’s drawings, to hear him say auntie for the first time and to have my heart melt in two.

On my 40th birthday I remember my friends saying that Ickle Ricole was going to be utterly spoilt by his auntie and true to form I bought so many things for the little guy.  I loved my ‘pretend’ shopping trip with my sister where we pretended we were buying gifts for my friend who was expecting but actually it was for my her!  Two gifts really stand out as the most precious to me now and that is a little navy blue t-shirt I had bought him for 0-three months old which said ‘My Auntie Rocks’.  I could not wait to see him wearing it….

Continue reading An Aunt’s Perspective: My Journey With & Without My Nephew Freddie