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Completing My Late Son’s Bucket List: Rome Colosseum

Updated: Feb 12

My son Braedon had his fifth birthday in heaven recently.

It feels utterly impossible to wrap my head around the fact that it’s been almost 5 years since we said goodbye forever.

At the same time though his final moments are etched into my heart and soul so deeply it feels like it was just yesterday too.

Grief is Weird & Birthdays are Hard

Grief is weird like that; so many emotions and thoughts whirling and twirling around inside us and some hiding just below the surface waiting to erupt. Some are completely normal, some irrational and some are contradicting too.

Birthdays as with so many things after loss have become rather complicated. Of course we feel the pull to celebrate Braedon and his life yet at the same time we almost want to ignore this day too.

Another year passing means the space between us grows a little more. While some think that’s healing I’ve found that as that distance grows our loved ones feel further away and that makes it hurt more and deepens that longing inside us.

This year though in honour of what should have been Braedon's 23rd birthday, thanks to my incredible husband, we did something extra special to commemorate the day my sweet boy was born.

Completing Braedon's Bucket List: Part Two

We drove to Halifax Nova Scotia, flew to Newark, flew back to Halifax (due to a medical emergency- a story for another day) and then we flew across the Atlantic Ocean where we landed in Rome to cross something off Braedon’s bucket list.

On his birthday, January 20th with heavy hearts we made our way across town to the Colosseum, where Braedon had dreamed of going one day.

He had a love for history from a really young age which oddly was inspired by his love of video games.

When most kids had superhero bedrooms or Sponge Bob Square Pants, Braedon had his room done in Medieval times. He had a faux brick wall, gold bedding, an old antique trunk, battery operated candles and other treasures most kids would not appreciate.

Feeling His Presence There with Us...

Stepping onto the arena floor of the Colosseum that day was surreal mostly because we were there taking those steps for him knowing full well that he never and will never get too. And then there also was the monumental vastness of the building itself and the 2000 years of history the walls around us had absorbed and withstood; that was a little eerie to say the least.

As we followed our tour guide listening to unbelievable tales of the gladiator days walking on cobblestone older than the country we live in I could feel Braedon’s presence there with me. I could envision the look of wonder and amazement in his eyes and imagine how he would have reacted.

I walked with tears of joy and sadness at times and once again, I was reminded of what it was like for a moment to be breathtakingly and heartbreakingly beautiful at the same time. To feel so deeply connected to my son yet somehow worlds and realms apart. To be in complete awe yet simultaneously in overwhelming despair.

The Most Vivid Life-Like Dream

That night I climbed the stairs to the loft bedroom of our Airbnb with so many mixed emotions weighing on me the stairs felt harder to climb. I gathered the covers and pulled them up high so that the corner of our comforter was touching my cheek as I always do and a deep ache washed over me ever so slowly as I thought about how much that day would have meant to Braedon.

Shivers crawled up my back and neck as I fell asleep a little saddened but filled with so much gratitude too; knowing that we got to take those steps for him. I felt closer to him than I had in a while and that night I had the most vivid and incredible dream.

Suddenly Braedon was there with me.

We were sitting down stairs at the white pedestal table talking and eating ice cream cake as the lights on the wall behind us flickered.

That feeling of home I could so easily find in his eyes fell over me and pierced my soul. It all felt so real as he placed his hand over mine and said,
“Mom, I did it. I helped you be brave.”

“Yes you did bud, from the moment you were born, you started teaching me to be brave.”

“I want you to know,” I continued as he interrupted and said, “I know Mom. I already know.”

Suddenly the feeling of falling jolted me awake and I was lying in bed, with sweat beads slowly crawling down my forward and tears spilling down my cheeks. It was the most comforting and life-like dream I’ve had of Braedon since he passed and it reaffirmed my commitment to his list and made me wonder. Maybe that's part of how we live on after death; in dreams of our loved ones.

I knew I had to Complete his List

From the moment I found it, I knew that I had to complete his list. I didn’t know how or when and to be honest I’m still not sure how I’ll do everything on the list but I have a deep knowing inside me that I will.

I have a strong desire to honour Braedon's life and his dreams too. So I’ll continue taking big and small steps for him. To be completely honest though I’m taking them for me too, for bereaved Mamas all over the world. And for any woman (or any person) who has gone through tragedy so severe that she doubts her value or what’s possible for the rest of her life.

I hope that my adventures completing Braedon’s bucket list will serve as a reminder to others that no matter what we go through in life we’re always left with choices and that life can still be beautiful and meaningful too.

But it’s up to us to be brave enough to choose it, create it and live it.

XO Tiffany

See our first adventure completing my son's bucket list here

More about Completing My Late Son's Bucket List

Tiffany Agnew's son Braedon Beebe Lyon died in 2018 just four months after his 18th birthday.

His short life transformed every part of who she is and he continues to guide her from afar.

She has found healing through writing, speaking and embracing life to the fullest. She's on a mission to inspire others to embrace bravery and heal their hearts through intentional and inspired living.