Messenger: Tragedy and holidays make tough combination for some families | Tony Messenger

My son’s friend was the first to tell me about the accident. He attended primary school with some of the victims at Holy Infant Catholic School. The tragedy of losing a child is one of those things that a parent is never far away from. I remember when my kids were babies, sleeping peacefully in their cribs—sometimes so quiet that I woke them up, just to make sure they were breathing. There are parents I know who have been through such a tragedy, and they are stronger than me. So much so that they have turned the loss of a child into something that propels them towards a higher goal.

It is the same for Conrad and Eileen Haubrich, who live in Mehlville. Their son, Brett, was 11 when he was diagnosed with an aggressive form of brain cancer. Brett was a student at St. Mark Catholic School. He had a tumor the size of a golf ball in his brain.

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“Initially, we didn’t really want to talk about it,” Eileen says. “The more you talk about it, the more real it is.”

There was surgery to relieve the pressure and a biopsy. The news was bad. Brett lived long enough to spend a semester at Bishop DuBourg High School. He died on January 10, 2018, surrounded by his family at home.

“It’s shocking” to lose a child, Conrad says. “It’s a surreal experience. You feel like you’re in a bad dream and fighting to wake up, but you can’t.”

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