Thoughts on Angelo’s second birthday

We spoiled ourselves silly on Angelo’s birthday.  I always treat the day like a kid’s holiday because one thing Angelo did for us was make us cherish our living sons even more.  But despite all the glitter I sprinkle on the day, I can’t ignore the ache in my heart as babies and death get mixed up in my head all over again.  Sorry to hit you with two difficult posts to read in a row but I’m always trying to help people understand what it’s like for us.

On the eve of Angelo’s second birthday the sun set golden on our yard and lit up Angelo’s garden—the last corner of our yard to catch the sun rays every night. I took pictures of the beauty that has grown there these past couple years, especially of the angel statue on the bench who gazes at the lake and the sunset every night.


Vincenzo and I walked and played in the woods afterwards and it felt like we were in a painting. One beautifully lit, golden spring evening that would last forever. By the time we got back it was nearly dark and I glimpsed the angel statue again, only now instead of being bathed in sunlight it was covered in shadows and seemed lonely instead of lovely. I wanted to bring it inside to give it the warmth of our house. Maybe to bring it into bed with me to give it my own warmth. But I knew I was as incapable of warming up that stone statue as I was at keeping Angelo’s body warm after he was born, so I left the statue outside. I took a fear of the dark to bed with me instead.


I don’t understand this whole death thing. Sometimes I battle so much to get the fear of death and loneliness out of my head. On the good days I can convince myself that nothing about death will be lonely because Angelo is waiting in heaven for me. On the bad days I think that’s just B.S.  We die, the end. Most days I can at least convince myself that it doesn’t matter because when we’re dead we won’t be around to care.

White bleeding heart from Angelo’s garden

But how I hope, how I pray that it does matter…that Angelo’s beautiful, beautiful soul lives in the rays of sun that light up his garden in the day, that turn it golden in the evening, that make the plants bloom and turn their heads toward the very lake where his ashes lay.  And when night covers Angelo’s garden with its unblinking face it doesn’t mean that death has set in, but rather that the sun is busy filling up the other half of the world with its joy. 

I imagine that Angelo’s life served a greater purpose than just to make me a deeper person—that his life changed the world in great ways. That even though his body was broken, his soul is flawless, is ageless, is with me now and will be with me forever, and that our reunion will be even brighter than the sun.

I dream. I want to believe my dreams. My life is overripe with desire.

Picture of the star magnolia in Angelo’s garden

Thank you for being here for me on this sweet, sad day every year.  So many of you have shown that you really do understand, even though you claim you don’t.  I love you all for that.

4 thoughts on “Thoughts on Angelo’s second birthday

  1. Rachel…I never even knew little Angelo and he has made a difference in my life. I wanted you to know that!! You make a difference in my life and I haven’t even seen you in years. I look forward to your blog everyday. You are an amazing writer and know that you help everyone with your sense of humor, your wit and your intelligence!

  2. You have a beautiful heart and a beautiful way of expressing what’s in it. I’m so proud of you.
    Love Mom

  3. I coudn’t comment for a while, it was all just too much. Angelo’s garden is so beautiful. I hope that as it grows, and as you boys become men that you can fill it with more happy memories than sad. Hugs

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