Place of Residence: Los Angeles, California
At 15 years old, Braden was described by his film teacher as “a unique spark of joy in this world”. Others knew him to be a kind soul, a true artist, and a compassionate friend. Braden fell ill with COVID-19 and suffered from multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (also known as MIS-C). After seeking medical attention, he was hospitalized with COVID-19, suffered numerous complications, and sadly lost his life on January 5, 2021. Braden was not vaccinated against COVID-19 because it had not yet been approved for his age group in December 2020. His mother, Amanda, shares Braden’s story below in her own words.
My name is Amanda and I am a COVID survivor who has also experienced long COVID. I had the great honor of raising a beautiful son, Braden, who contracted COVID-19 despite following all precautions and recommendations. He succumbed to MIS-C, a rare complication of COVID-19 in children, after 6 days of battling the illness on January 5, 2021 at the young and aspiring age of just 15 years.
My dear Braden has been described by others as many remarkable things. His film teacher referred to him as “a unique spark of joy in this world.” Others have called him “a kind soul, a true artist, a compassionate friend, and the kindest person they’d ever met.” All these words make me so proud of the young man I raised, but they also make the hole in my heart – and on this earth where he should be standing today – so much deeper. I remember so vividly how he could uplift a room or a person in need. And how he truly looked for the good in others. He was a bright light in the darkness.
Everyday I miss Braden and all the moments shared with him, but even more I yearn for times we’ll never get. His first girlfriend, his high school graduation, seeing him off to college, his wedding day, holding his grandchildren, watching him as a dad or uncle, seeing him progress in his passion for art and films. Instead I’m left now wondering how tall he’d be and missing him on all the holidays and trips we planned and now can’t take together. I grieve for what was and what should have been. I grieve for everything lost in those 6 short days. I blinked and everything he or I ever wanted was gone.
Braden was an amazing young man just at the start of life, and I never want his memory to only be associated with how he died but instead for the beautiful life he lived. I miss so many things about Braden every day. His courage to be his authentic self. His true acceptance of others to be as they are. His journey to search quietly for peace, love, and connection with others. I miss his smile and laugh, his wit and joy. I miss the sound of his voice and hearing him say, “I love you Mommy”. I miss the cuddles in my bed when we would watch movies, YouTube shows, or just to chat sometimes. I miss seeing him in his special seats, like his desk chair or his spot in the car. I miss him being here with me to tell a joke, or give a hug, or play a game. But most of all I just miss Braden, my little boy…
In his own words Braden once wrote,
“Hold fast to dreams,
For if dreams create,
Life is a beautiful canvas,
A masterpiece painted great.”
These are wise words I now cherish from my only child, my life’s real masterpiece.
As the world and our country continue to change, I am just one humble mother who misses her beloved son. I see people continuing their lives as if the more than 800,000+ lives lost to this heartbreaking virus were just a side note and an already distant memory. I see most of the country re-opening, including schools, sports, pools, etc. with little or no restrictions. As a mother who lost a child to COVID-19, I plead for continued safety precautions and especially vaccinations for our youth, who represent our loved ones and our nation’s future. No one is invincible from this hidden, ever-changing, and lurking virus.
Amanda is a vaccine advocate and shares her son’s story to illustrate that COVID-19 is a risk to children. As of December 2021, children ages 5 years old and up are eligible for COVID-19 vaccination. Amanda urges other parents to seek out science-based information on COVID-19 vaccination and speak with a trusted healthcare provider.