Saturday, December 13, 2014

Happy 2nd Heaven Birthday Joseph Angelo

"Love will hold us together, make us a shelter to weather the storms." -Matt Maher, Hold Us Together

"I will carry you all my life, and I will praise the one who's chosen me to carry you." -Selah, I Will Carry You (Audrey's Song)

Celebrating Joseph's 2nd Heaven Birthday

Our Family, Fall 2014 (Amy Donahue Photography)
It’s been two years to the day since we said hello and goodbye to our son, Joseph Angelo, two years since we held him in our arms and loved him for one beautiful and perfect hour. Two years of loving, growing, grieving, and healing. Two years. Much has happened in that time.  For starters, Joseph’s little brother Jack was born. The Lord has blessed our family in ways we never imagined possible! Joseph’s little brother  is on the go, a mile a minute, a spunky, wild, wonderful, energetic, adventurous and loving little guy. He is, of course, the most spoiled little one you’ll ever meet, with the biggest smile too.

Jack (Joseph's little brother) celebrating his first birthday, Fall 2014
In the last two years, we became God Parents twice. Joseph had a new baby boy cousin born this month and has another one due in February. We welcomed countless (and I mean countless!) other friend’s babies. We’ve loved each of these babies and their parents more deeply than we ever did before. We 've also shared and grieved with several friends who lost babies in the last two years, we loved these babies and their parents more deeply than we ever did before.

We’ve tried to live life to the fullest. We’ve traveled, visited friends and family throughout the country. We celebrated my brother’s wedding in Charleston and attended 11 other weddings (John or I were in 5 of them!) We celebrated Joseph’s grandparents 60th birthdays, two Christmas Days, two Easters,  many birthdays, grandfather’s completion of several more marathons, new year celebrations and more. We've tried to give back and continue volunteering for our church youth group, Isaiah's Promise and The Northwest Center. We are grateful for the gift of each new day.
Fun Family Times
We continue to live our lives, and life has come fast and furious. Life has gone on and life is good. Life is beautiful, real, surprising, hard, messy, fun, and FULL all at once. We make a conscientious decision each day now to live life to the fullest and choose life “more abundantly,” cherishing each day. We are learning to be the best parents we can be for all three of our children.

Although there is much grace and we are at peace, we still miss Joe lots. I miss him on my happiest of days and I miss him on toughest of days and everything in between. I miss him on the happy days when I think; he would love this beach or this park, or I wish he and his “Irish twin,” could run and play together as brothers. I miss him on the hard nights when I get a wake up call cry from his brother at 2 AM (and 3, 4 and 5), not sleeping. I look into my son's eyes and see Joseph’s eyes. I hug him just a little tighter and Iove him just a little more patiently now. I miss Joseph when the lady holds the door for me at Barnes and Noble and says “my, you’ve got your hands full” and I think “really, sometimes they don’t feel so full.” I miss him when I see my beautiful family pictures and someone is missing. I miss him when a new person comes into my life and they ask, “is this your first?” or “how many children do you have?" Who knew it was such a loaded question?

The answer is simple; two on earth and one in heaven. You see, we LOVE to share about our son and his legacy. We love to speak his name and share his beautiful life and his message of unconditional love, because our earthly sadness,  is not the end of this story.
This is why we CELEBRATE today. Today is a very special day for our family. We celebrate Joseph's birth because we believe his death is not the end of his story. We celebrate with hope, faith and JOY. We know we will see him again and we are grateful for the promises of Christ and His triumph over death, so that we may all have life!
Dear Mom or Dad reading our blog in the midst of a loss,
Be easy on yourself,  give yourself time, know this; that life DOES go on. That losing a child IS survivable and although your life may never be “normal” again, you may find a “new normal,” and you may even (shockingly) as we have found, be “better for it.” Losing our son has been the most difficult experience of our lives, but it has also been the most precious and even beautiful time. Take your time, be good to yourself and allow yourself to feel whatever you need to feel. Everyone’s situation is different but I can say with absolute certainty that choosing life for our son despite a terminal diagnosis was THE BEST decision we have ever made. 
Dear Joseph’s friends,
We live in a world where words like “choice,” and “death with dignity”  mask an undignified truth. Share your story, speak the truth. Don’t give up, do not be afraid, and do not lose hope.  Love is always the right choice.
Dear Joseph Angelo,
Happy 2nd Birthday! You are and will always be a special part of our family, just the way you are. We will always love you for who you are and who you have lead us to become.... If I had to do it all over again to hold you in our arms for an hour and hold you forever in our hearts, I’d still choose you, every time.... You inspire all those who “meet” you to think about life maybe a little differently than they had before. We continue to be amazed by all that God has done and continues to do through your brief yet beautiful life.  Thank  you sweet baby boy, we love you, we miss you and we will see you again soon.

Dear God,
Thank you for the grace you give us each new day. Thank you for your healing, faith, hope, joy and love. Help us to do your will.

Joseph Angelo, pray for us!