This blog has been started in loving memory of my son Charlie.  If you’ve found yourself navigating to this website, then you probably know of the tragedy that struck my family on January 23, 2011.  My loving, enthusiastic, vibrant, and cherished son Charlie suddenly and unexpectedly passed away at the age of 2 years and 10 months from complications of the flu.  As of the start of this blog, it’s been 5 months since he went to heaven.  My wife Vanessa and I struggle daily with the sudden loss of a perfectly healthy boy so full of life and personality.  With the help of our faith, love for each other, the love and support of our family and friends, and our son Danny we are trying our best to move forward, but never away.  We will never forget Charlie and one of my biggest fears is others forgetting him.  Hopefully this blog will serve as a place for people to remember Charlie for what he was.  A sharp kid with a pure heart.

The picture in the banner is Charlie’s first jump off a diving board.  He confidently hopped on the board and ran off without hesitating.  He was hooked after his first jump into the pool and spent the remainder of the day jumping off the diving board while I got cramps from treading water waiting to catch him.

*I cannot promise anyone much with this blog.  All I am doing is relaying some of my thoughts, fears, and feelings after the death of my eldest son Charlie.  Some of these posts may come across as angry, sad, or even happy.  One may be alarmed at the rawness of my grief or surprised at the level of my acceptance.  Each day is different and I ask for your patience with each ensuing post as my mood and outlook on life change as quickly and violently as the weather in Chicago.


24 thoughts on “About

  1. Death leaves a heartache no one can heal, love leaves a memory no one can steal.
    ~From a headstone in Ireland

  2. I am sobbing as I write this. I remember showing this flip video to my human development classes and the sheer joy each student experienced. No exaggeration. Almost 60 students saw this video and others starring Charlie. The “singing happy birthday” one is absolutely priceless. Each of those students was so clearly touched by his pure innocence and how clearly it illustrated the stage of development, initiative vs. guilt. A dad who will stay in the water that long is something special every child deserves. Those videos spawned discussion on parenting at the various stages of development and what a child’s emotional development can look like without that kind of parental dedication. Needless to say these students were grief-stricken when they learned about Charlie’s sudden death. The cards and notes and emails to me about this little boy and his parents were testament to the spiritual premise, “our lives are not our business.” And that is the lesson I am taking from this crushing loss. I love you, Charlie. Thank you for the gift of your life.

  3. I cannot imagine how you feel but there is one thing I do believe in Jeremiah 29:11. I never had the privilege of personally meeting your son but Kevin and Maghan would talk about him all the time. As I read this it reminded me that I need to cherish the moments. You will never know who will be touched with your story or who you will help along the way. Charlie will impact lives beyond your imagination because he lives on through you and Vanessa. I can’t fathom what you have been through but one thing I can say is he will not be forgotten because I have heard of the impact he made on soooo many lives. You and Vanessa will continue to be in my thoughts and prayers.

  4. Bryan you are an amazing writer and I wish I had your talent. You paint a perfect picture of who Charlie was. Love you, love Danny and love and miss Charlie.

  5. Boo-
    Your words perfectly describe my memories of Charlie. I miss him so very much. I, too, get those moments when I’m at McDonald’s or Sunday mornings…I love Vanessa, Danny and you so much.

  6. You and Vanessa are amazing. Charlie will never be far from anyone’s heart. He lives within you, Vanessa, and Danny everyday. We love you.

  7. Bry,
    I’m so proud to call you my brother. You are a great father and don’t ever forget that. Reading these posts and watching these videos keeps Charlie alive in our hearts more everyday. I love you all so much!

  8. Tobes,
    I haven’t known how to reach you, but your family is always in my prayers. I have a pic of Charlie in my office hanging above my desk. I know he is a special boy and is in a special place. Always in my prayers.
    Phil LaP

  9. Okay, so I thought this was going to be a quick read (what do I know about blogs?!?!), I should have known better because I heard firsthand your eulogy. So, for now, I am putting it aside until I have the proper time to spend with you and “Charlie”, but I am so excited and feel humbled that you want to share your thoughts and feelings with us. This is special. Mrs. Seiwert

  10. I’m stunned by this. Just reached you via a friend who’s recently lost his son. Sorry for your loss, thinking about your words. Every night my daughter goes to sleep it’s in the back of my mind that I hope she’s fine in the morning. Always thought that was a ridiculous way to think, but I can see that it’s not. Been on here a few minutes and I’ve heard about Charlie. Glad I have. Won’t forget him and wish you all the best.

  11. Tim and I often speak of your family, and you are in my thoughts daily. Someone told me about this blog a week ago and it is beautiful tribute to your son. I only met Charlie one or two brief times, but I can promise that I will remember him forever. I believe the first time was at Centennial pool. Our son Alex was about 6 months old and basically just sat in the water at that time. Charlie, 9 months ahead of Alex, was all over the pool, even jumping the 1 to 2 feet off the side. I was amazed by his energy and how quickly children grow. You spoke of how he was an early walker, at 9 months, and of your bursting pride when he took his first steps, followed by the realization that life with Charlie just got busier. Last summer I saw Vanessa arrive at the pool with Charlie as Alex and I were leaving. I don’t think Vanessa even saw me, but I was happy to notice them. Vanessa and I were both pregnant, and I felt like I had something in common with your family. Then Tim saw you and Charlie at a Maine South football game last fall, shortly before Danny was born. Tim came home talking about how cute Charlie was. We were filled with grief to hear of Charlie’s passing. I cannot imagine your pain, I only know what it feels like to love a son unconditionally. In that way I can empathize. I wish I could do something to lessen your pain, even if only for a minute a day. What I can say is Charlie will always be remembered, even by someone like me who only met him briefly. You are the father of two amazing boys, even if Charlie is physically gone, and Charlie is always your son.

  12. Bryan,

    This blog is an amazing tribute to your son Charlie and a testament of what a loving husband and father you are to Vanessa, Danny and Charlie. I am speechless reading these entries. You and your family continue to be in my daily thoughts and prayers. Thank you for sharing your thoughts- they are important for everyone to listen to, no matter what their situation.

    Love, Katie (House) Daugird

  13. You are amazing. Thank you for touching the lives of so many with your beautiful words. Though I’ve never met you, Vanessa, Danny or Charlie; I feel your beautiful angel has touched my heart forever through your stories and photos. With love and tears, Sarah (Katy’s cousin)

  14. Hi you guys, I just found your blog by going through Mendez Moments. I feel your pain and I wanted to drop in and say hello.

  15. Hello,
    I’m the mother of a child seen at Lutheran General with Vanessa as one of her nurses. My youngest, Ally, has Spinal Muscular Atrophy which is often fatal before the age of 2. Ally is now 5 1/2 years old, but she has taught me sooooooo much about life, love, friendship, courage and faith. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and experiences with us. I don’t always understand the bigger plan of God, but know that he is with us and our children have huge purposes on earth and in heaven. I also want to thank Vanessa for always being there to help with orders and things Ally has needed over the last 5 years, including getting Ally and her sister’s flu shots ready today. I’m always relieved to see her or hear her voice on the phone. Vanessa and Bryan – thank you for sharing your son’s story with me, as without meeting him, he has now also touched my life.

    My prayers are with your family,
    Tina Krajewski

  16. Bryan,
    I just heard your story in the last couple weeks. I have read some of your blogs, and although difficult to get through, they are so touching and truthful. Charlie is a lucky kid to have you as a father and I was believe he was given to you to show your greatness. I wish you all the best in the world while you take this life one day at a time. God bless.

    Erin Muldoon Konrath

  17. You are one amazing DAD. I have 3 kids myself and one on the way. Never will i take them for granted again. Thank You!!! – Chris in Wheaton, IL

  18. I just found your blog and I have to say that of all the blogs I have been reading and following since my baby Maxie died, this one feels the most like a parallel of my journey and my feelings. I, too, convinced myself that I would be with Maxie again. My husband and I, too, have actually said that we would give up the other one to have Max back (and we LOVE each other but a child is a child and you would trade ANYONE to have that child back). I, too, am less convinced as time goes on that I will ever see my baby again but I am trying SO hard to have faith. I, too, felt like my son was a soulmate, a constant companion and best friend and I, too, feel so alone every day. I feel like I have lost myself. I was outgoing and had so many friends and I loved people and I enjoyed life….because I had a BEAUTIFUL life. Now, I just cross days off the calendar, looking forward to the end of this miserable existence. I try to have faith that that will change but it gets harder every day. You are a wonderful writer! So honest and true. I feel your love for Charlie and I love him too. He had so much spirit and soul! What a beautiful and special little boy. I am so sorry he is gone and I hope that if these boys are in heaven that they find each other. Mostly, I hope that they know how much we love them and that they are waiting for us when we get there.

  19. I am a total stranger who found your blog when googling for “sound of a diving board”, because I’m a novelist and I was trying to describe the sound in writing for a scene. I’m also a mother. I’ve read every post. Thank you for sharing this with strangers. I know it wasn’t intended for us, but we can see Charlie and you in this writing, and we can also see ourselves and be reminded that we are either lucky or not alone or both. You are brave and truthful and clear-eyed. I am deeply sorry that Charlie is dead and deeply grateful that you are willing to talk about it.

  20. Brian and Vanessa Happy Anniversary to you both My thoughts and prayers are with you always I talk to your dad all the time and he shares many stories with me. Keep being the wonderful parents that you both are. And thanks for sharing with all of us your thoughts and stories about a wonderful little boy that was taken away too soon. Double

  21. Pingback: Some thoughts from the Dad’s View….. « thecookiegal

  22. I was thinking about jumping off a diving board today, and that is how I found your sight. I certainly can empathize with you as my husband and I lost our daughter (now 5 years ago…I can hardly believe that!). Emma died of an intestinal disease. Like you, I don’t want her memory to pass…I have a few thing such as a little vile, on a chair, that goes around my handlebars (I am a cyclist) that I reach forward every ride and say, “I love you Emma.” …I know she is with Jesus…I saw a vision of such joy with her and Jesus months after she passed. And I realize that it is different for each person. I am grateful to know such a deep pain because I am able to know a greater level of compassion. Of course, I wish it did not have to come that way.
    We went through healthy grieving for months and months and we are still so excited for what God wants to do through our lives. I’m okay with not know ‘why’ and knowing we are still here and He has a work for us to do…smiles.

    It sure was nice reading about your Charlie!

  23. I came looking for some information for an article I’m writing for my column in our local newspaper when I found your beautiful blog about your baby boy. Your words are eloquent while laced in pure love for a child gone too soon.

    I have four children of my own, and while I’ve never known the pain of losing one, I’ve often wondered how families survive. Once, I read a beautiful thought from Sufi Mysticism that I wanted to pass on to you. They believe the souls of babies look down from heaven and actually choose their mommies and daddies before they come to this world. We are all sent with lessons that are ordained by God before we get here, things we must learn, let go of, love. Our children pick us because we will provide all they need to carry on toward their light.

    Why do some people live to be 97 like my daddy and others lose babies is a question we all struggle with, but it’s all part of the life’s soulful journey. As heartbreaking as it is for him to no longer be present, perhaps he learned all that he needed. His time was done.

    Keep writing. You will never forget him, but by journaling he stays alive for the world to witness. I’m writing a book about my father and I. We cared for each other in the end; he spiritually for me, I physically for him. I was told that by chronicling about our journey, I would keep him alive forever.

    Blessings on your family. Your baby is not here is the body form, but his spirit breathes in you and your wife everyday. He’s just a heartbeat away, always.

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