This story starts with a home purchase, which is something that a lot of expectant parents start to think about when they find out they have a little one on the way. My husband, Jeff, and I hadn’t been looking for a new place at all until we found out we were pregnant. It quickly became abundantly clear that we needed to move when we started clearing out the guest bedroom that would’ve been Brady’s room. We had a two bedroom townhouse, and it would’ve been busting at the seams. Our closing was scheduled for Friday, January 13th, leaving us plenty of time to settle in time for our little man’s arrival, somewhere around April 18th. Or so we thought. A diagnosis of HELLP Syndrome determined that a January 15th birthday would be medically necessary.
Brady John Schmitz arrived at 26w5d gestation and was given great odds, 95%, to be precise. Unfortunately, our story doesn’t play out in favor of those odds. Our little man fell into the 5% we didn’t want to think about as even a possibility. Brady developed an infection when he was 13 days old, and passed away early on his 14th day of life.
Because we never would’ve moved if it wasn’t for Brady, I’ve started calling our new home “The House That Brady Built.” It’s only recently that we have started actually trying to make our house our home, and I’m finding my inspiration through Brady. The hideous burnt orange accent wall is now a soothing blue (our color for Brady). A collage of Brady photos adorns the upstairs hallway leading to our master bedroom and Brady’s nursery. And, we have the most perfect cedar chest for Brady’s things. More on that in a minute. I’ve remarked to my husband that “Brady lives here.” – and I truly feel his presence in our home.
Now onto that cedar chest. The cedar chest comes from a desire to have a place for all of Brady’s “things”. Little outfits our family bought for him, tiny footprints set in clay, the adorable little eye cover he wore for a majority of his life. I like to go through his things often, and those things were spread throughout a number of boxes and rooms in our house. I’ve always been fearful that I would lose something of his, so I wanted a spot to keep these things safe. This safe space would need to be easily accessible (so I can look at them whenever I want) and would need to keep things concealed well enough that they wouldn’t be in our guests’ faces. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
I came up with the idea to keep a cedar chest in Brady’s nursery. It seemed like the perfect solution – I would be able to look at things whenever I wanted, and, if we have living children in the future, the trunk would serve as extra seating in the nursery. It would allow us to have Brady present in the nursery, always.
I found a dated cedar chest with a super nasty floral cushion on Craig’s List for $75, bought myself some blue chalk paint and new hardware, and set out to breathe new life into Brady’s trunk. It was my first attempt at a DIY project, so of course it took longer than I expected. I started on Saturday, and by Monday night, I finally had the final coat of paint in place. That ugly floral cushion problem still hadn’t been solved.
Excited about finishing Brady’s trunk, I convinced Jeff to go with me to the fabric store to try to find the perfect fabric to re-upholster the cushion. Jeff hates those craft stores – and I kind of do too. He tried to find a reason not to go, but he couldn’t. We walked in, and I was immediately overwhelmed. I wandered through the first few aisles, and Jeff wandered away. I caught up with him a couple of minutes later and shared how overwhelmed I was feeling.
“Something will speak to us.” he said. We turned down the next aisle, labeled “nursery” and commented that this might be the spot for us. In my head, I spoke to Brady “C’mon, little man, tell us what you want.” Jeff pointed to a fabric and said “I even like something like this!” I turned and looked, shocked. “Jeff, that’s the same fabric that Brady’s eye cover was made out of!” Like, the EXACT same fabric. I pulled up a photo of Brady on my phone, and sure enough, it was a perfect match.
I have no doubt that Brady was speaking to us that day, letting his mom and dad know that he’s always with us, always helping to guide us. Brady’s cedar chest now sits under the window in his bedroom – and our visitors have no idea what treasure sits inside.