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.. I promise ..

By Margaret BrennanPublished 29 days ago Updated 27 days ago 5 min read
Top Story - April 2024
image by: pinterest


^^ ~ I promise ~ ^^



**this is a true story; however, I have changed the names to respect family members**


Dolores and Henry met in June of 1932 when they were sixteen years old. For them, it was an instant attraction, and they soon became inseparable. At least, that’s the way it was until Henry, at the age of eighteen, joined the Navy. He thought it only proper that he do his part to support his country.

Although Dolores was upset that he was going away, she accepted his decision and agreed to wait for him. The war began and Henry requested leave before being shipped out. His request was approved, and he called Dolores advising her he’d be home in two weeks. “I have one request,” he said.

The day after arriving home, they walked toward the altar, before their friends and families, and recited their vows. Mr. and Mrs. Henry Stewart were giddy and high on life.

He asked her parents if she could live with them until his tour of duty was over and they could begin their lives together. Her parents quickly agreed. After a brief honeymoon, he was gone.


Once home, Henry soon found a job and thought his life couldn’t get any better. He was wrong! He and Dolores set up home in a small apartment that she rented when she received his letter saying he was coming home.

Four months later, Dolores announced that they should begin planning a small nursery.

Five months later, little Julia came howling into the world. The joy in the Stewart household was immeasurable.

Within a week, however, he noticed a slight change in Dolores’ behavior. She would rarely put Julia in her crib. Instead, she’d carry her everywhere. She tried to discourage everyone from holding the baby. When she held her daughter, she’d look into the baby’s eyes and coo, “My love, nothing will ever happen to you. I promise.”

Henry insisted on being allowed to hold his baby girl, but even when Dolores “allowed” it, she’d hover over his shoulder.

“It’s not normal, D. Our families should be allowed to cuddle with her. How will Julia ever get to know them if you won’t let anyone near her? Especially me? Her own father!”

Dolores would cry and admit that she was so terrified someone might drop the baby, or maybe hold her a bit too tight. Henry argued. “For God’s sake, D. Your parents raised four kids! My parents raised three! Don’t you think they know how to handle a baby?”

He convinced Dolores to speak with her doctor.

“Just after-birth blues. Many women go through that. She’ll be fine.”

Back then, very few people knew postpartum depression and therefore the condition often went untreated. While many women did, however recover, there were others who did not. Dolores was one who didn’t.

One evening, he arrived home from work and found his wife sitting on the kitchen chair, rocking back and forth. (No, she wasn’t sitting on a rocker.) She held little Julia and quietly sang. Her choice of song sent shivers up Henry’s spine. She softly sang, “When I Grow Too Old To Dream.”

He put down his lunch pail, walked over to Dolores and said softly, “Here, you’re exhausted. Let me take Julia and put her in the bassinet.”

Dolores looked up and with tears in her eyes, handed the sleeping baby to her daddy.

Henry worried but he needed to support his family. He approached Dolores with an idea.

“Sweetheart, I was talking to a few of the guys at work about getting a telephone. The few that had them said it’s a wonderful invention and a very necessary one. I’m thinking of having one installed. This way, if you ever need me, you can call work and I’ll come home immediately.”

Her face was very pale, and Henry could see she’d lost weight. “Okay, Henry, if that’s what you want.”

Two days later, the working phone was sitting on a small table in their dining room and on a pad that sat next to it, Henry wrote how to reach him at work.

He knew her parents had a telephone and encouraged her to call them. He wanted to be sure she knew how to use the phone.

Each night when he walked through the door, he noticed Julia was in her crib, either sleeping or happily cooing, and Dolores was at the stove putting the finishing touches on their dinner.

Everything seemed so much better, and Henry began relaxing more each day.

He noticed an elegantly knitted white blanket that his mother-in-law made for the baby.

“Hi sweetheart,” he said as he picked up the blanket. “Your mom really does nice work. It’s just perfect for Julia.”

She never looked at him, but only said, “Yes, it is perfect.”

Dolores didn’t speak much that night. Henry thought she was only tired. For the past few days, Dolores had been tirelessly cleaning and scrubbing their apartment.

“She’s back to her old self, again.” He thought.

Until two weeks later.

He called to say he’d be about thirty minutes later, and all Dolores said was, “Okay.” Then she put the receiver back in its cradle.

He ran to his boss, “I need to go. Something’s wrong at home.” And he ran out the door.

Arriving home, he saw Dolores sitting in her favorite kitchen chair, holding the soaking, dripping, lifeless body of their little girl wrapped in her new white blanket.

“Oh, my God! Dolores, what have you done?”

She looked at him with a blank stare and said, “I told her that nothing would ever hurt her. I promised. I kept that promise.”


It had been determined that Dolores kept thinking, “what if something happens to me while Henry is out. What would become of my baby?”

In order to keep her baby safe, she held the tiny infant under the water in the bathtub until she breathed her last.

In her mind, she saved her little girl.


As I said earlier, postpartum is now treatable and often cured – as long as we recognize the signs.

In that era, when a woman committed such a heinous act, she wasn’t jailed, she was committed to an institution. That was the fate of Dolores. She never recovered and within a few months, couldn’t even recognize her husband. Dolores spent the rest of her life in an institution. Henry never remarried.


Yes, this is a very sad tale and unfortunately, it’s also a very true story.

My mom had three brothers, one of whom was married to Dolores’ sister.


About the Creator

Margaret Brennan

I am a 77-year old grandmother who loves to write, fish, and grab my camera to capture the beautiful scenery I see around me.

My husband and I found our paradise in Punta Gorda Florida where the weather always keeps us guessing.

Reader insights

Nice work

Very well written. Keep up the good work!

Top insight

  1. Heartfelt and relatable

    The story invoked strong personal emotions

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Comments (15)

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  • ROCK about 2 hours ago

    Oh my G_D! How tragic. I never gave birth but have z friend who was happy go lucky. After she had her second baby she went into a dark place. She started there. She is 58 years old! I do have depression but I couldn't kill anything. I can't imagine this reality. It reminds me of a Japanese writer who is quite macabre. Her stories are fictional and yet feel so real. Yoko Ogawa. Well told.

  • Britts & Pieces22 days ago

    Wow, what a tragic but beautifully-written story 🥺

  • Belle24 days ago

    Congratulations on top story!

  • Andy Potts24 days ago

    Powerful and relatable. A well-deserved top story. Well done.

  • Anna 24 days ago

    Congrats on Top Story!

  • Shirley Belk25 days ago

    Very real diagnosis, and terribly sad.

  • D. D. Lee25 days ago

    That’s terribly sad, for all three of them. Thank you for sharing this.

  • Oh god this was brutal. Just awful and I feel terrible for the innocent children dealing with abuse or murder. I understand what it's like to go through types of long periods of depression. Getting treatment and help is the most important thing to do. It's for the safety of your kids and yourself

  • Murali26 days ago

    I was speechless after reading about the intense fatigue some women experience with postpartum depression. In Olden days.

  • Gerard DiLeo26 days ago

    The most common cause of suicide is untreated or inadequately treated depression. Postpartum depression isn't the blues, it is psychosis. It is an emergency. Powerful story, Margaret.

  • Congratulations on your top story.

  • Cyrus26 days ago

    Well deserved TS👍

  • angela hepworth27 days ago

    this is so sad but so real, thank you for sharing ♥️

  • Carol Townend27 days ago

    This is so sad. I remember the days when I was very ill after having a baby, and at that time, I was going through a tough time. I experienced Post Partum Psychosis, and I did not know until I ended up ill in the hospital a few years afterwards, as it was never talked about. I am grateful for my recovery, though I feel for your family and what you have been through. This must have been hard to talk about. Thank you for having the strength to write it, and make people more aware.

  • Judey Kalchik 27 days ago

    This is a powerful story, and heartbreaking.

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