His Life

Niel's First Angel-versary

Today is the first Angelversary (anniversary) of Niel's passing into Heaven.  I wonder how we have made it through each day of this last year without our sweet son.  How have our hearts kept beating?  How have we kept breathing?  How have we gone on without him with us?  I don't know how...but we have.  Somehow...some way, we are surviving this unbearable pain.   We feel him near us each day as we piece together our shattered hearts.  Niel sends us signs that are so precious, and he sends them right at the times we need them the most.  Niel is walking us through each day...he shelters us and guides us through the waves of grief and the many lonely hours of missing him.  Love bonds us to our precious son and that love will continue to keep us connected with him until the day we see him and hold him again.  We love you the moon and back sweet man!  Love Mom and Dad XOXO  

Celebration of Life on Niel's Birthday

On Sunday May 30th we celebrated Niel, and his life, on his 39th birthday.  Bruce and I are so very grateful for everyone who came to be with us.  We cried happy tears, sad tears, and hopeful tears.  Our hearts are full of love for all who came and for those who reached out to us but could not make it here.  Niel is an exceptional soul and we were able to share our memories...our stories...and our pictures with the people who love him most.  We were also graced with memories and stories of Niel from his friends and family who attended the celebration.  Kathy, Niel's birth mother, traveled from Arizona with Niel's cousin Jenny.  We bonded as moms who loved Niel like only a mother can.  She gave Niel life and I am eternally grateful for the gift of being Niel's momma.  Josh came from Florida and my sweet sisters flew in from Utah.  We were beyond touched by all the love for Niel.  

The stars aligned and the weather was perfect!  We released butterflies to send messages of love to Niel on their wings.  Some butterflies landed on people's was a magical moment for us all.  It was especially touching to learn that the only tattoo that Niel's birth mom Kathy has is a butterfly made it even more special.  We shared the foods that Niel would have LOVED and been chowing down on!  We had his most favorite birthday cake...FUNFETTI!!!  The cupcakes reflected his personality...tons of fun and lots of flavor!  I had set out all of Niel's baby books, scrapbooks, and yearbooks.  Everyone got to sit and look through the books that showcased his life.  It was heart warming to see Niel's friends sit with Nick and find their pictures...and even their Dad's pictures (Ryan, Justin, and Brandon) on so many pages of Niel's books.  The friends of Niel's, who are now grown, embraced us with so much love!  Thank you!  We received beautiful orchids and cards from others.  Again...thank you!  We reenacted taking pictures on the stairs like we did for proms and other dances with "the kids" we watched grow up.  Seeing the boys who are now fathers hug Nick again like they did twenty years ago, gave us so much joy!  Thank you all for loving Niel, Bruce, Nick and me on this special day.

I had bracelets made for everyone with one of Niel's favorite sayings.  "It's all good".  Niel was an eternal optimist and could always lift our spirits with a smile and's all good momma!  We hope that everyone will take his special outlook on life and let him live on through you in your lives.  I feel like he is with us and watching over us each day.  It made my heart happy to see people wearing the bracelet as they were leaving.  Thank made this momma so happy. 

We thank all who came or reached out to us.  We are eternally grateful for you are family to us...and you helped make Niel's birthday celebration a day we will cherish forever.  Much love always, Bruce and Tammy


Niel called his family "The Fam".  His love for his parents, brother and sister, grandparents, aunts and uncles, and cousins was epic.  He loved going down to Utah and hanging out with his beloved "Grandpa Baby".  My dad would say..."Well hello Nielly Baby!"  Niel would say back..."Well hello Grandpa Baby!"  Their love comforts our hearts knowing they are together again.  I hope there is fishing in heaven because those two would love that!

NB2 Brothers

Niel and Nick shared the same initials and when Nick was 18, Niel gave him the gift of matching tattoos.  Niel had moved to Charleston SC but he flew home to surprise his little bro for his birthday.  We all showed up at Nick's school with pizzas, cake, and his big brother Niel.  Nick was so happy to see his brother because he had missed him so much!  We all did.  It was typical of Niel to do something special for his little brother by surprising him on his eightenth birthday.  Niel was an awesome big brother to Nick and took him everywhere with him when he was growing up.  They were eleven years apart and Niel was in the delivery room when Nick was born.  The bond between them was made of pure love.  Niel adored Nick and Niel was Nick's favorite person.  They both have the same crazy sense of humor...listening to them both laugh and joke was one of my greatest joys.  Niel looked out and watched over his little bro man...I know he still is.


When Niel was in Charleston SC he got Max...a black French bulldog who was so like him in many ways.  If Niel were a puppy...he would have been Max.  Both were full of personality and impishness!  Both snored too!  Niel loved his sweet puppy Max and Max adored his daddy Niel. 

The ultimate sports fan!

Niel grew up playing sports like baseball, basketball, soccer, and football.  He was a Federal Way Hawk when he was a young boy and participated in any sport he could (Go Niel!).  He was the quarterback on his middle school team (Go Braves!), but gave it up when he kept getting blind sided.  He played all these sports until high school when he then settled on being the mascot for the football team at FW High (Go Eagles!)  He would later in life play on a softball team that he absolutely loved (Go Unicorns!).  He lived for football games in college and in Seattle. Besides loving his Cougar football and basketball (Go Cougs!) and his Seattle Seahawks (Go Hawks!)...he LOVED going to any game of Nick's (Go Nicky B!).  He was Nick's biggest fan!  Niel made it to every soccer game, baseball game, and football game he could.  Niel was the ultimate sports fan!  He will be remembered with every sports season and every game we watch.


Niel's friends meant the world to him.  He never met a stranger...everyone was a friend.  We have the most wonderful memories of all his friends here at the house getting ready and taking pictures for many high school events.  It was paparazzo central for Senior Prom!  Niel shared his friends with us and we shared ours with him each summer at the lake.  I will always remember the weekly Rook games on Thursday nights with Niel, Brandon, and Justin, and the hair bleaching sessions for Niel, Brandon (or was it Justin?), and Josh.  So much many close relationships made and enjoyed.  We feel like Niel's friends are our family because we watched so many of them grow up with Niel.  We treasure these friends and the memories we have of them and our sweet son.  


Niel graduated from Washington State University in 2005 with a degree in Criminal Justice.  He would use it in his career at Boeing working in Security.  To say he loved WSU would be a huge understatement!  He was a Cougar through and through!  That made UW his nemesis.  He once lost a bet to Ryan and had to wear purple and gold in a picture.  That hurt.  He was fiercely loyal to his beloved or lose!  I can still hear him yell...GO COUGS!!!

Boating and wake boarding

We got a Sea-Doo when Niel was ten and the love of water and boating was born!  Bruce and Niel took their first maiden voyage with the Sea-Doo at Redondo Beach on the Puget Sound.   It started out a sunny day with calm waters so they motored over to Tacoma and Gig Harbor.  They were having a great time until the weather changed and it ended up a stormy day with choppy seas.  By the time they made it back to Redondo, they were soaking wet and freezing!  I still remember them showing up with their teeth chattering and looking miserable!  That was when we invested in wet suits and stuck to playing at the lake.  We eventually graduated to a boat and for years, we spent our summers on Lake Taps with friends.  We have so many wonderful memories of those days.  Niel and his friends spent many days tubing, wake boarding, swimming, rope swinging, and enjoying the boat with our family and our friends.  We celebrated each of his birthdays at the lake with his friends.  May had chilly water but that didn't stop any of us! Niel continued to love the sun and boating for many years.  He left us with treasured memories of such great times and so much fun!


One of Niel's biggest passions was traveling!  He went to Korea, Costa Rica, Australia, Puerto Rico, Cambodia, Canada, and Thailand.  He loved adventures and seeing new places.  For his senior trip, him and his friends all went to Hawaii.  He was a fearless traveler and made many friends where ever he went.