Father’s Day Guest Columnist Bud Hanley: Dear Matthew, You Are Our Son And You Will Never Be Forgotten: Part 5

 

Hanley_family_dressed_up

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.

 

Today, Bud shares the last of his letters to Matthew. “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 budhanley@att.net. 

 

Dear Matthew,

   My son, you touched so many lives and you will continue to touch lives. As long as I live, I will tell of the miracles I personally witnessed . . . I will make you these promises . . I will work tirelessly to cause good to come from your life. I will tell the world about you to motivate people to help others in your memory. I will let your life be my testimony and I will share it with as many people as God gives me the opportunity . . .

   I will one day meet you in heaven. Until then, I will continue to live because I know you live . . . I know that your Papas and Grannys in heaven will take care of you . . . Hang in there my, little man, Daddy will be home soon.

Daddy

 

My little Matthew,

 

Good morning, my sweet baby boy. We miss you so much and wish God had allowed you to be with us. Your short life has changed ours and has impacted hundreds of others. We started a non-profit organization in your memory called Matthew’s Hope Children’s Ministry to help other children in our community. I could write a book sharing the many miracles that have taken place through Matthew’s Hope, but I’ll just share this one for now . . .

 

When Mommy was pregnant with you in the fall of 2002, we decided to pick out a needy family and buy Christmas gifts for them on our own. Our church and Sunday school class had done this and we always participated in that, but never had we done it ourselves . . . Our local schools send home an information sheet to the kids who are in need and the families fill it out with requests and sizes . . . Me and Mommy looked through the sheets of paper and one stood out to us.

 

It was a 12- year-old boy with a two-year-old nephew. They lived in a pretty bad home situation. The older boy, Chris Bagwell, returned his sheet to school and asked for socks and underwear and “if possible” a football. He asked for the same for his little two-year- old nephew and “if possible” a fire truck. That broke our hearts and impressed us that a 12- year-old would ask for such minimal and basic needs . . .

 

We loaded those boys down with everything from new jeans, shirts, shoes and coats to bicycles and footballs and fire trucks…and yes socks and underwear. Mommy went and bought the stuff the day before Thanksgiving and came home that night and we wrapped it all up with your big sister “helping” us. She was two years old at the time . . .

 

Then our nightmare began. The day after Thanksgiving, Nov. 30, 2002, your Mommy’s water broke and our ordeal began. You were born and died on December 18th. We flew home and buried you on December 21st. That night, we went and delivered those gifts to Chris and his little nephew.

 

I can’t begin to describe how happy and grateful that little boy was. He had never had such things before. It helped us so much to see the gratitude in his face and his words. He helped us as much as we helped him; he just didn’t realize it. He was so proud of what we had given him.

 

Well, several years passed and we often wondered what happened to Chris because he had impressed us so much. He even worked with his uncle to help bring in some money for his family.

 

We later started Matthew’s Hope and have helped many similar families since then. In the Spring of 2008, two women from Belton-Honea Path High School approached me and asked if we would like to provide a scholarship from Matthew’s Hope. We decided that would be a good idea and instructed them that our criteria would not be necessarily the straight “A” student, but rather a kid who had overcome bad circumstances and did well anyway.

 

They brought us several essays that students had written about why they deserved a scholarship and we chose one that seemed to stand out to us. The scholarships are given every year at a ceremony at Erskine College called the Evening of Excellence. Mommy and me went that evening and presented the scholarship to the recipient after briefly sharing a little about Matthew’s Hope and why we were doing it. It was a nice evening and we went home. We had just walked in the door when the telephone rang. Mommy answered the phone and all of a sudden the color drained from her face and she put it on speaker phone.

 

It was the young man to whom we had just given the scholarship.

He said, “This is Chris—you don’t remember me do you? But when I was 12 years old, you and your husband brought Christmas gifts to me and my nephew.”

 

Matthew, when he said that, I thought I was going to pass out . . . He went on to tell us that when we brought those gifts at age 12, he realized for the first time in his life that somebody loved him.

 

You see how God works? . . .

 

Love,

Daddy

 

P.S. – Next week Father’s Day guest columns from four more Dads will appear.

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Father’s Day Guest Columnist Bud Hanley: Dear Matthew, You Are Our Son And You Will Never Be Forgotten: Part 4

 

Hanley_matthew

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.

 

Tomorrow, Bud will share the last of his letters to Matthew. “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 budhanley@att.net.

My Matthew,

   Today is Saturday and I have experienced a parent’s worst nightmare. I had to bury you today.

   On Wednesday, December 18, 2002, your Mommy and I went to NYU Medical Center at 6:30 to begin what would be the hardest day of our lives. It began with Mommy waking up around 5:00 with a temperature of 100.6. Dr. Young had told us that if her temperature was 100.4 or more, he wouldn’t do the procedure.

   Mommy was determined to get you all the help she could, so she took two Tylenol and took a cold bath to lower her temperature before we got the hospital at 6:30 . . . When we arrived at the hospital . . . Mommy even put the thermometer on top of her tongue to keep Dr. Young from knowing she had a temperature. Around 7:30, they came for your Mommy to take her down to the operating room. My wait began.

Around 8:30, they brought her back to monitor her One of the nurses touched her and knew she was warm . . . She was having some contractions. Fear struck both of us. We just knew that Dr. Young would cancel the procedure. We had come so far and it sickened us to think that after all we had overcome, we wouldn’t get the help we so desperately wanted for you . . .

   After 45 minutes of monitoring, the contractions stopped . . . so at 9:45, they took her back to the operating room again and began the procedure . . . One hour passed, then two. After the third hour passed, I began to get worried.

   Then at around 1:00, I received word that the procedure and recovery was over and that I could see her. When I arrived, she was still very groggy and she was complaining of severe pain in her left hip . . . Dr. Young had told us to expect some contractions due to the procedure, so when they started, we weren’t worried about it. This continued, getting progressively worse . . . very painful and more frequent. I realized that my worst fears were coming true.

   By 3:00, Mommy was in full-blown labor and we knew that you were coming. I began to pray like I’ve never prayed before . . . By 3:30, we were whisked into the operating room and the miraculous process of preparing for you began. They not only had to prepare the room for your birth, but also a neonatal team had to be assembled to care for you immediately after birth. There had to be 20 or more people there awaiting your arrival.

   At 3:44, you were born. Your tiny body emerged from a breech position. The team of doctors desperately began to work with you. As they worked with you, you pee-peed and pooped. This was encouraging to the doctors and to us.

   They then took you up to the neonatal intensive care unit and continued to work with you. Mommy had already instructed me to leave her and stay with you wherever they took you and I promised her I would. But they wouldn’t allow me to go with you. They said they would need an hour or so to get you stabilized and get everything done to help you. I reluctantly consented and waited with Mommy . . .

   Finally, about 5:00 they came and told us we could see you before they did the next round of x-rays and procedures to check your lung development. When we saw you in the NIC unit, we both cried our hearts out. You were so very tiny and you were having to go through so much to try and live. Your Daddy’s heart was shattered. I would have gladly accepted everything you had to endure if I could have. We spent only a few minutes with you and then we had to leave so they could continue to help you. We returned to the room to wait some more.

   Finally about 10:00, Dr. Edith McCarthy, the neonatologist who was in charge of your care came to our room. Her face clearly showed that she was about to give us bad news . , , Until then, I hadn’t even entertained for one second the possibility that you would be anything but fine . . .

   As Dr. McCarthy began to speak . . . she told us that there was not enough oxygen getting to your brain and other organs and that the chest x-rays revealed that your little lungs had not developed. She told us that there was only one other thing they could try. It was a high-speed ventilator that may help and it may not. She told us that, due to the high speed, it could violently shake you and could cause bleeding in the brain.

   I could not do it.

   That’s where we had to stop and leave it all to God.

   Mommy and I had to make the decision that no parent should ever have to make. We had to remove the ventilator that was keeping you alive. At around 11:00, we went down to the NIC unit and Dr. McCarthy arranged for a private room for us to be able to hold you and spend some time with you. She had prepared us, saying that you would likely only live a few minutes. They brought you to us and we held you and cuddled you. We talked to you and told you we were with you and that we loved you. We called Papa and Nana, Papa and Grandma and Great Granny. They all spoke their love to you.

   I believe you heard them.

   As your Papa cried and prayed, he begged God to take his life right then and spare yours. As I heard him pray, I knew that that was a prayer that only a parent could pray. I felt so sorry for all of your grandparents . . . After everyone had spoken to you, I held you close to my face and wept. As I walked with you and rocked you in my arms, I told you how much you meant to me and how I loved you. I told you that it was okay to stop fighting. I was speaking words to my only son that I never dreamed I was capable of speaking . . .

   I held you as you left this world.

   I believe God allowed you to hear us and you somehow knew of our deep love for you            . . . Looking back now, I know we could never have endured the pain without the presence of God in that room . . .

   You are my son and you will not be forgotten.

 

Love,

Daddy

 

P.S. – Part 5 will appear tomorrow.

Father’s Day Guest Columnist Bud Hanley: Dear Matthew, You Are Our Son And You Will Never Be Forgotten: Part 3

Hanley_family

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 two days, Bud will more of 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 budhanley@att.net.

 

Dear Matthew,

Four more days have passed . . . Since then, we went to the Anderson Hospital on Saturday and the fluid index was 6. This was great news and it gave us all a great sense of relief and we thanked and praised God for the great news. The weekend passed and everything seemed to be okay.

 

Then on Monday . . . the fluid index was 1.8. This news crushed us. We were so confident that the hole had closed and the fluid was still there. We are now looking at the option of going to New York to see Dr. Bruce Young.

 

Last night he informed me that your Mommy was the only person with a spontaneous rupture that has qualified for the procedure. The qualifications are: going a full week without delivering, no bleeding, no infection and no signs of labor. He said that he couldn’t explain why you haven’t already been born. Almost 100% of women whose water breaks deliver within a week . . . I pray every day that God will provide that “living water” for you to survive on . . . I am totally helpless and at the mercy of God. I am learning what it means to totally surrender to Him . . .

 

Hang in there, my little buddy. I love you with all my heart.

 

Daddy

 

My Little Miracle Boy,

. . . We have made it to 24 weeks tomorrow . . . The miracle continues to unfold and you continue to fight and appear perfectly okay . . . We know that you are okay because your Papa and Great Granny says there is “Living Water” there.

 

. . . We decided to come to New York City to see Dr. Young . . . After about two hours there, we went on to have an ultrasound . . . It was comforting for us to hear him say that your growth was right on target and your heart appeared perfectly normal. That news only reconfirmed what we already knew. We know that God is taking care of you and sparing your life for a reason. . . The doctors continue to be amazed at how this has played out . . .

 

During the day yesterday, we kept seeing this other couple. Everywhere we went, they were there too. Finally, at the end of the day, we decided to introduce ourselves to them and find out why there were seeing Dr. Young . . . They were here for the exact same reason we were. This lady was the second case of a spontaneous rupture who had qualified for this procedure . . . We went on to have dinner with them and learned all about each other. We know that God orchestrated this meeting . . .

 

Tomorrow morning, we have to be at the hospital at 6:30 a.m. Mommy will have the procedure done sometime after that . . . I look so forward to the moment I can hold you in my arms and cuddle you. I will tell the story of this miracle as long as I live.

 

I love you,

Daddy

 

P.S. – Part 4 will appear tomorrow.g.

Father’s Day Guest Columnist Bud Hanley: Dear Matthew, You Are Our Son And You Will Never Be Forgotten: Part 2

 

Hanley_couple

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 budhanley@att.net.


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.

 

Love,

Daddy

 

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.

Love, Daddy

 

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 . . .

 

Love,

Daddy

 

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.

Daddy

 

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,

Daddy

 

P.S. – Part 3 will appear tomorrow.

Father’s Day Guest Columnist Bud Hanley: Dear Matthew, You Are Our Son And You Will Never Be Forgotten

Hanley_kids

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. Below is his latest letter to Lauren and Andrew. Over the next four days, Bud will share a series of his letters to Matthew, written as the baby struggled for nearly three weeks to survive and also after his death, both soon after and recently. “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 budhanley@att.net.

Dear Lauren and Andrew,

I am amazed at the gifts you are to me, and sometimes overwhelmed at my responsibility as your Daddy.

I started writing to you both long before you were even born. I wanted to share my observations about our lives, our community and the world around us. More important, I wanted to feel close to you, and for you to feel that closeness even many years from now when you read my heartfelt words.

Lauren, I remember so well the day you were born 12 years ago. The ultrasound informed us that you were a little girl, and my heart just exploded with love. At that very moment I promised you I would protect and love and support you.

When you were a toddler, I went into the swimming pool with you. Sometimes you were scared, but you always seemed to know you were safe with me there.

Now you are about to enter the years every Dad dreads – the teen years. I wish I could always protect you from pain and fix your problems. But I’m learning that I have to teach you to handle any obstacles. That’s hard. You’re my baby girl.

Sometimes I will have to pull back a little and let you spread your wings.

Luckily, you are independent and strong willed, qualities you inherited from me and your Mom. You’re definitely a risk taker.

You’ve grown into a beautiful young lady, smart and funny, too But my favorite quality about you is your heart. You are sweet and compassionate.

My prayer for you, my sweetheart, is for God to bless you and one day let you fly higher than the sky.

Andrew, you recently made the best decision you will ever make. You accepted Jesus into your heart. I’m so proud of you, my little man.

When we lost your big brother, Matthew, I was unsure I would have the courage to try to have another child. Our family had a void from losing Matthew that I doubted could be filled. For almost two years that void grew only deeper and wider. But then you came along.

Losing Matthew was more devastating than anything that has ever happened to me. I would walk to the moon and back if I could have him back. But maybe because God took him I have you now.

You are 100% boy. On any given Saturday, you will get me in the yard playing one sport after another with you. Last Saturday we started the morning off with some baseball, then moved on to football, then fishing, then back to baseball.

The other day you looked at me and thanked me for teaching you what I have taught you. Here’s part of your list. How to catch and hit a baseball. How to throw and catch a football. How to fish for bass. How to love Jesus.

In such moments, I realize that however much I fail at anything, I’m still succeeding. Thank you for that, my little buddy. Thank you, both.

Love,

Dad

 

P.S. – Part 2 will appear tomorrow.