My brother, forever

On October 15, which is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day, I reflect on how my parents helped me to share the experience of our family’s grief at the loss of my baby brother, Brandon Joseph Achtman, who died when he was 7 months old.

I was only two-and-a-half years old when Brandon died. But, year after year, I continued to learn more about my brother’s brief life, his death, and that he remains forever my little brother.

Even now, as an adult, I grow in my relationship with this brother of mine. The fact Brandon existed continues to affect, influence, and rouse me – in many ways as ongoingly as the fact of my other brother, Evan, with whom I grew up all along and who is still alive today.

Below are some pages from the Special Care Baby Book in which my mom and I wrote and drew throughout my childhood to remember and cherish baby Brandon.

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Creating a Legacy for the Baby We Loved

When my brother Brandon was born prematurely, my mother met at lot of other parents in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) who were all living on pins and needles with uncertainty over the future of their respective children.

One woman was continually writing letters to her child about what she was feeling and about what he was going through each day. Together, she and my mom went shopping for clothes at Build-A-Bear because the clothing for teddy bears was the right size for their premature children who were too small to fit any of the baby clothing they could find.

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