June 28, 2012

Cale's 2nd Birthday

When I was in Denver last year visiting my sister we went to a nearby park that was filled with beautiful gardens. We walked through all of them enjoying how pretty they were, stopped in many to take pictures or sit and talk, and just lazily enjoyed the beautiful day. We came across one rose garden and in it was a large plaque. Since Cale's passing (and even more reinforced after Daren) I have stopped to read plaques, headstones, and memorial markers and signs much more than I used to. The tender words engraved on such things mean a lot to someone or did at some point and I like to, at the very least, just pay my respects and maybe learn a little about a person or a place in the process. This particular plaque in the rose garden was dedicated in memory of a young girl named Judy who I think was 17, maybe even younger, when she died and we learned that she loved roses and tending to them in her own garden. Kate read the plaque and so very sweetly said, "we love your garden Judy." And then we moved on to another pretty area of the park.

I have come to realize that this is exactly what I want for my son. That maybe someday years from now a total stranger can pass by something and stop for a moment to enjoy its beauty before moving on, and it will have been because of Cale. I think this has happened already. I sometimes get sweet pictures from friends who see something and think of Cale, or who write his name in the sand, or do a good deed in honor of him. And for a little boy who never got to walk this earth, I think there's nothing more I could ask for.

The garden we created in Georgia may only be enjoyed by a handful of people over the years, but it's a small pocket of beauty that has been left there in loving memory much like the rose garden in Denver. What I loved most about that garden was that it is one of the places I had my maternity pictures taken.

The tree I was leaning up against in that picture has since died. Part of me wonders if it died around the same time Cale did. A month or so before we moved we had it cut down. We had our neighbor come over with a buddy and take to the tree with a log splitter and make firewood that they hauled off for us. I wanted to keep one stump from the tree through - something I could maybe bring to Texas and put in the new garden. A little silly maybe, but I thought it would be nice to have part of that tree with us. But a few days before we moved, our wonderful neighbors gave us this beautiful stool:

Miles told our neighbor Brian to not cut one of the stumps and told him why I wanted to bring it with me. So Brian kept another part of the tree and worked on this little stool for us. They gave it to us, along with a sweet hand painted mold by their kids, as gifts for Cale's birthday and told us they figured Finley could use the stool one day and it would be a nice way to always have part of the tree with us, without having to lug a big ole tree stump around. They carved the boys' names in the legs of the stool (you can see Cale's name in the picture) and signed the bottom. It's just perfect.

I'll miss that garden back in Georgia, but just yesterday we started on the little area we plan to make his garden here in Texas. His second special place for me to go and think of him, miss him, and be reminded of how much beauty exists in this world because of him. Something I'm reminded of every time I look at his brother.

My son should be turning two today. It's hard to believe and I know would be equally so if he had lived. Two years that should have been so very different and have been void of a little boy who I desperately miss every single day. This last year of grieving for and missing Cale has really been no better or worse than the year before. Because as I was told early on, and believe firmly, it never gets better - it just gets easier. And in many ways it has. Even the build up to today and these last few weeks and days hasn't been as tough as last year. Granted we've been busy moving across country and getting settled at a new house, but I still haven't been as emotional as I was last year. As I mentioned recently, I've just come to a more comfortable (and more controllable) point in my grief. Cale has become a part of my every day and my reality in a way that I never wanted, but I am at least thankful he's there, even just in spirit. I'm thankful for little pockets of beauty that I stop and appreciate because of him.

Happy 2nd Birthday, my beautiful son.

"I'll love you forever, 
I'll like you for always. 
As long as I'm living, 
My baby you'll be."


  1. Love the bench! What a great memory to have!
    Love you guys and praying for you as you celebrate Cale's life today and how much you love him!

  2. Happy Happy Birthday sweet Cale. We will remember, celebrate, and love you always!

    The stool is absolutely beautiful! I love that you guys and Finn will have it always to remind you of the tree in Cale's garden.

    Wishing you a peaceful day friend...xoxo

  3. Happy birthday sweet Cale! How many lessons you've taught, I'll never know. But, I do know what you taught me. Love and prayers to the entire Hidalgo family. :-)

  4. I love the bench that your neighbors made for you in honor of Cale; it is beautiful. There is so much beauty in the world to be appreciated. That is one of the many gifts that Cale gave to you and continues to give to all of us. Missing him with you today and always. Lots of love, dear friend.

  5. I just love the bench and the idea of keeping the stump with you. This past Christmas my parents gave my brother, sister and me nesting boxes made from a tree from our childhood and it meant so much to us. No doubt as Finley grows he will be able to appreciate those little pieces of Cale's life more and more. So glad you get to have those wonderful memories!

    Love and prayers today to you, one of the most beautiful mamas I know, and love as always to sweet Cale!

  6. Absolutely beautiful. I think that's lovely to have a piece of that tree-- the one Cale essentially touched while living inside your belly. It's a beautiful, memorable, sentimental, meaningful piece of your family. What a wonderful friend to make that for you guys as well.

    Loving you, sweet Cale, on your birthday and always.

  7. Happy Birthday sweet Cale. When I am at Ava's tree today, I will take a moment with Cale.

  8. Happy birthday big guy!

    I love the stool :) so sweet.

  9. That stool is too perfect. What a thoughtful gift.

    I also read plaques and dedications with much more interest these days, and I agree that Cale has made this world a more beautiful place--especially for those of us who have luckily stumbled into your generosity and compassion.

    Thinking of your sweet boy today.

  10. Beautiful post. I am so in love with that stool. What an amazing gift and part a Cale's life. You are so right, not better, just easier.

    I stop and really read plaques and markers now too. Glad there are places of beauty left behind because of Cale. He is remembered and loved. Wishing today was a different day for you, a day filled with a busy two year old, but so thankful that this perfect boy of yours was here even if it was only for a moment.

  11. And here I am crying tears onto little Ginny as I read your words. Your love for Cale and the ways you remember him are so beautiful. Happy 2nd birthday sweet little boy.

  12. OMG, I don't even know where to start. I guess with Happy Birthday Cale. 2 years. Oh my. Hayes' day is just around the corner. The tree/stool is wonderful. What a great person that neighbor is! How lovely that you read memorial plaques now--I do the same, but hadn't realized it until you said that. I hope someone says that about Hayes' garden one day. BAWLING at the quote at the end... right after Hayes died, I went to a bookstore and saw that book. I know the story and remembered that quote. I couldn't pick it up bc I couldn't handle reading it, although I wanted to. I tell Sloane that all the time. She tells me she's not a baby. :( Love to y'all.

  13. That little stool is amazing! What a precious way to honor and remember your sweet boy. Happy 2nd birthday, Cale!!!

  14. Caroline, I am blown away at what an amazing neighbor you have. What a perfect gift. Perfect. I can't wait to see you in just a few short weeks. We can have belated birthday celebrations for both sons with nana and pop:) Love you sister. Love you Cale.

  15. The tree dying gave me chills.. I wonder too about the connection.
    I'm sorry I'm just now responding. Ive was thinking of you and Cale. Our loss is just days from eachother. A year apart. You saying that this year wasn't better than last.... Wow... You know I wonder, how is two years out vs one year out. I wondered what one year out, last year, would look like. We never miss less or love less.
    I think the bench your neighbors gave you out of the tree is absolutely beautiful and kind. I wish you had Cale instead. Love to you my friend.

  16. wow. amazing. the story about the tree gave me chills too. you had such sweet neighbors.