Bud Hanley, a registered financial planner, lives with Joy, his wife of 18 years, and their children, Lauren, 11, and Andrew, 6, in Honea Path, South Carolina. The Hanleys, owners of Legacy Financial Group, Inc., a financial and tax planning firm, are active in church and enjoy fishing in a backyard pond with their kids. They lost their son, Matthew, then an infant born prematurely, in 2002, and founded Matthew’s Hope Children’s Ministry the next year in his memory. The charity helps underprivileged children at Christmas and throughout the year, and also offers scholarships to deserving students. Bud has long written letters to all of his kids.
Over the next three days, Bud will share his letters to Matthew, written as the baby struggled for nearly three weeks to survive, and also after his death. “I promised Matthew as he died in my arms that I would work hard to cause good to come to other people because he lived and that I would use every opportunity God gave me to share His goodness,” Bud says. For further details about Matthew’s Hope, you can reach Bud at firstname.lastname@example.org.
My precious baby,
Your Mommy and me saw your heart beat for the first time last Tuesday . . . That was our first doctor visit . . . That made it official . . . I pray for you every day . . . You are due to arrive on Mommy’s birthday.
My Little Man,
That’s right! You’re a little boy . . . I’m going to have a son . . . I need your help. Right now, with all these girls, I need some help balancing it out. You will be my little buddy . . . I think of all the things we will do together and I just bubble over inside.
My little Matthew,
. . . Yesterday about 10:30, the worst fear I have ever experienced came over me. Around that time, your Mommy’s water broke. We were putting up our Christmas tree and playing Christmas music. Your sister Lauren was helping me put the lights on the tree. We were having the time of our lives . . . You are only 21 weeks old right now. If you are born now, you won’t survive. As I write this, we are literally taking it one hour at a time. We arrived at the hospital at about 11:30 yesterday. We were scared to death, but hopeful and certain that the doctor would be able to stop the process and everything would be all right. Dr. Herring arrived about 1:00 and confirmed our worst fears. She confirmed that the water had broken . . . She told us that there was nothing she could do to stop your birth and that it could happen at any time. She said that 70% of the time, delivery takes place within a week of the water break.
So that’s where we are . . . We are praying tirelessly for you, my little man. As I write this, I am not certain if I will ever hold you and play with you. I’m not sure that you and I will be able to play with the football I bought you two days ago. There are many things I’m unsure of right now.
But I am sure of this: God is in control of this situation . . . and I pray . . . God is blessing your little tiny body right now. You are already beating the odds and with every passing hour and every passing day . . . We believe with all our hearts that you are a miracle baby and you are going to be okay . . . God is orchestrating this miracle and we are witnessing it . . . If God will grant this miracle, I will forever thank and praise Him . . . He is going to keep you from evil and protect you from harm . . .
My little Matthew,
. . . Your Mommy came home from the hospital Monday afternoon . . . You were still doing well . . . You are a fighter and your Mommy is a fighter. You weren’t supposed to make it this long . . . We are still taking it one hour and one day at a time. Everything I read on the Internet says that you have a very slim chance of survival. That may be true in earthly terms, but in heavenly terms you have a 100% chance. Matthew, God is going to take care of you, and Mommy and me will see you alive and healthy. If God sees fit to take you to heaven, we will see you there one day . . . You are in God’s hands and His grace is sufficient for all of us . . . God has a purpose for this happening and one day we will know why . . . We love you, little man.
My little Matthew,
. . . Two more days have passed since I last wrote . . . You survived from Wednesday to Thursday on little to no fluid. This can’t be medically explained. But it can be divinely explained. God’s hand is on you and he is keeping you. . .
Dr. Dellinger did an amniotic infusion to give you some fluid to help your lungs develop properly. Your Mommy gladly and willingly had a 6-inch needle inserted into her belly to provide you with this precious fluid . . .
We found out about a doctor in Tampa, Florida who does a procedure which can patch the hole where the fluid is leaking. We called in hopes that they could help us. We were too late. You are a little over 22 weeks along and they won’t take anyone over 22 weeks. I begged and pleaded with them to help us, but they wouldn’t.
However, they did tell me about a doctor in New York City and I called this morning to check on that option. It appears that it may be a possibility. I am waiting on a call back now from them. If there is any possibility that they can help you, we are going to New York .It doesn’t matter what the cost is, we are going. We will give up every possession we have if necessary to find a way to help you . . .
I believe God can stop that leak . . . You keep fighting and I’ll keep praying. If we do this, God will keep working . . .
We are longing to see you and hold you. You will be a special baby, a miracle baby . . .
I love you,
P.S. – Part 3 will appear tomorrow.