Happy Birthday Mary!

Happy 3rd Birthday Mary Elizabeth Bartlett! We love you baby bear.

One of the hardest parts (if not the hardest part) of loosing Keller was Mary loosing her baby brother. I get so angry she doesn’t have her brother to cuddle, annoy, play with, and love. Especially in the days after loosing Keller, I would rage about the fact that it was just Mary and I and that “nothing had changed”. Our life in many ways looked the exact same, and I hated that. She needed her brother so badly.

During labor, every time Nathan and I would think of Mary we would collapse with sorrow and a very real and physical pain. Our hearts sank to our toes knowing we would have to explain to our very excited two year old that Keller wasn’t going to come home with us. We had throughly prepped Mary for Keller’s arrival. Every night we would sing a [made up] song about how she would stay with our best friends, mommy and daddy would go to the hospital, Keller would come out, she would get to come meet him, and we would all come home and live together. She would remind me if I left any part out. We truly talked about Keller all the time and her tiny heart already loved him so much.

She came to the hospital ready to meet Keller. We planned on having her come to the hospital to meet him following the stillbirth. After Keller was delivered, we decided it would be too heavy, difficult, and confusing for her two year old heart.


“Hey baby. You know how Keller was supposed to come out of my tummy and you would get to hug him and meet him? Well baby brother got hurt. And he died. Which means he can’t live here anymore. You know who God and Jesus live in Heaven? Well that’s where Keller went to live. And he can’t be with us. But one day when we die we can go to Heaven and live with Keller and you can hug and kiss him!”

She took a thoughtful and heavy pause. She looked around.

“But I want to see him. I love him. I miss him……….I want a snack.”

We cried, cuddled, watched Veggie Tales, and ate a lollipop.

In the days that followed, she provided us with many things to laugh and smile about. She has continued to be sunshine in darkness. We still talk about Keller often. She still asks questions. I try my best to honestly and tenderly answer them. We look at his pictures and talk about how cute he is and how good it will be to hug him in heaven.

Once we were discussing Keller and where he lives and how one day we will go there too. Mary paused.

“Mama. When you go there, bring your pump.”

You never know – Keller may need a bottle!

We used to plug our noses and in robot voices say,

“Daddy. Mommy. Mary. Baby brother Keller”. {Every family does weird things, right?}

We still do this all the time. She never leaves out “Baby brother Keller”.

Recently, I was planning out our blog posts and taping post-its to the wall with the different topics.

“What’s that?”

“Daddy and I are going to write some things about Keller and how much we miss him. These are the different things I’m going to write about. His birthday is coming up. It’s just a little bit after yours.”

Another thoughtful pause and then:

“Are we going to go to heaven for his birthday?”


“No baby. We can’t. We go to heaven when we die. But one day we can go and see him.”

“But how will he get his birthday cake?”

More tears.

Mary. I love you. I love your love for baby brother so much. Thank you for becoming my tiny companion this past year. Thank you for your pure love. Let’s keep talking about Keller. He will always be your brother, even if we can’t seem him. Happy birthday to our girl. Keep spreading your sunshine.

One comment

  1. Natalie · August 29, 2016

    Bella, your posts are just beautiful. Your heart is just beautiful. I knew someone that lost a child and their children lost a sister. Every year they release balloons for their daughter. Maybe, that could be something to do with Mary? I’m not sure. Just a thought. I hope as the days go on it gets easier to get through the sadness and you are able to focus more on the perfection. 😚


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