Celebrating Our Angel

How do you celebrate an angel baby’s birthday? That’s a very good question. I’m pretty sure there isn’t a codebook on what to do. Some might not do anything. But for our family it wouldn’t feel right if we didn’t do something to remember Luca- even if it is something small.

I realized that I have never officially written about what we do to remember him on his angel day. It’s not huge. It’s not a big fan fare. But it’s a quiet day for us to talk about him and remember the day we got to see him.

It’s a day where we gather close as a family. I take the boys out of school and my husband takes the day off work. I don’t know why but it feels better going through the day together.

This year I cuddled on the couch with my two oldest boys and read them a junior novel. They kept begging me to read on so we sat there for nearly an hour enjoying the story.

We watched the DVD of songs and pictures we have of Luca and we all cried. It’s a bittersweet thing to sit back and truly remember that all of that actually happened.

After our youngest woke up from his nap we headed to the dollar store where I let each of the boys pick something out to “give” to Luca for his birthday. My 7-year-old gave him a recorder, my 5-year-old gave him a goop-filled dinosaur egg and my 21-month-old gave him a pack of miniature farm animals. I picked out a set of miniature monster trucks.

We took them to the cemetery and carefully placed them on the headstone. My thoughtful 7-year-old son also brought him a bunch of jewels and a sprig of flowers from the backyard of our new home.

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My sweet 5-year-old wrote him a special note that read: “Happy birthday Luca. You’re the best. Mom is having a baby. I just bought you an egg filled with jell and a dinosaur is inside. I have one of your onesies.”

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My youngest played with each farm animal before resting it near Luca’s picture on the headstone.

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We sat at the cemetery for nearly an hour while the wind blew around us, spinning all the nearby pinwheels. I think I’ve written before about how pinwheels remind me of Luca. When they spin I imagine him flying near, turning the spokes.

The boys each took turns racing to the life-size Jesus statue that sits a few hundred yards south of Luca’s grave. My oldest did it in 43 seconds. The second oldest took 53.

I don’t like going to the cemetery. But on Luca’s birthday it feels different. I like to sit there and soak it all in. I like when by boys play around there. It’s like they are playing with him.

In the evening we went out to dinner. Because who wants to cook on a day like that?

This year I was kind of nervous because my 5-year-old watched in wonder as the team of waiters sang to someone nearby who was having a birthday. Then he asked me what I thought the waitress would do if we told her it was Luca’s birthday. He had already mentioned to the dollar store checkout lady that we were buying things for, “our dead brother.”

I didn’t know how it would all play out. So I took the safe way out and told him it might make the waitress sad so we better not mention it. Maybe I should have let him tell her it was his birthday but sometimes it’s just too hard to see people’s reaction.

We planned on meeting friends and family at a park in our new town after dinner to have cupcakes and work on a service project. But the weather was crazy.

We haven’t moved into our new house yet so we didn’t know what we were going to do. Luckily my sister volunteered to let us all come to her house to celebrate.

We flipped through photo albums of Luca’s birthday while we ate cupcakes and drank strawberry lemonade.

DSCF7682Some of us worked on making new-sew hats to donate to Utah Share in Luca’s memory. We were able to
make 87. It was so easy and I love that my boys were able to help make them. My oldest keeps talking about wanting to make more.

Several people brought items to donate to Utah Share in Luca’s memory. I figure that since Luca doesn’t need birthday presents it’s a good time to give to others instead. We got some stamps, thank you cards, hand-sewn outfits, thinking-of-you cards, plastic bags, press n seal, stickers and more.

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I made some tiny gowns and wraps before we started packing up our house so I could donate them in Luca’s memory. Several people gave me cute fabric to use for the gowns. Now I can pair them with some of the cute hats we made.

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Normally we end Luca’s day by sending lanterns to him in heaven. This year was different. The wind and rain kept us from keeping with that tradition. I told the boys we would try one and we definitely tried. It nearly lit my husband’s shirt on fire as it drifted back and forth while he held it. We decided it was too wild and unsafe so we threw it on the wet sidewalk and let the rain (and my two oldest sons) douse it out.

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Like I said, we don’t do much for Luca’s birthday. It’s a quiet day for all of us to reflect on our guardian angel. It’s a sad day. But it’s a good day. People may think I’m crazy and wonder why I hold on to my little baby. I can’t explain why I do, but I know I’ll hold on to him forever.

Dozens of friends and family members joined in and gave service in Luca’s memory this past week. I love that each of them took the time to do something to honor him. It’s a small way to help keep him alive.

Here’s what a few of them did:

– One of my friends made cards that said “Random Act of Kindness in Memory of Luca Clemens” and tied them to pens and dragonfly bookmarks. Then she handed them out to random people at the store. One lady was in tears when she told her who Luca was.

– My sister-in-law and her family (who live out of state) took flowers to a lady who was recently widowed. Then they sent lanterns to Luca in heaven. I was happy to find out someone was able to get lanterns up in the sky.

– I had a friend who worked on sewing 23 aprons for teacher appreciation week at her local elementary school. Then she drove carpool when it wasn’t her turn even though it was an inconvenience.

– Another friend brought up her neighbor’s garbage cans and babysat her sister’s babies.

– My sister took her two kids to my mom’s house and weeded her flowerbeds.

– One of my friends made salsa, guacamole and homemade cookies to take to her work – the NICU, labor and delivery and postpartum unit at a local hospital.

– Another friend bought a coworker breakfast Tuesday morning.

– I had one friend who spent the week focusing on complimenting others. “I think a lot of nice things but I never say them out loud,” she wrote. “Sometimes all it takes is a simple and pure compliment to uplift someone’s life. Even if it comes from a stranger.”

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