The word ‘headstone’ is one of those words that people don’t like to say and have a hard time hearing. There are other words that are used in it’s place, for example: stone, monument, or memorial. The place that we got Liam’s from only called it a ‘marker.’ But let’s call a spade a spade: it’s a headstone. It’s hard for me to say primarily because it conjures up all sorts of movie-like images of the finality of the process; but we decided a long time ago to use words and terminology that correctly and aptly describes what we are talking about. It doesn’t do anyone any good to beat around the bush and risk misunderstanding….even at the risk of being a little straightforward for the common conversation.
This turned out to be one of those tasks that just didn’t get done until it felt right to do. For months and months after Liam died, there was no true desire or strength to try to pick out and design a headstone. We had met with someone fairly early on, but ultimately didn’t act on anything until late last year. There did actually come a time that we both just nodded our heads and decided to get it done; and that organic arrival made the deed of picking and designing something like a headstone a lot more palatable. And trust me, it’s barely palatable.
We set off on the design idea that it needed to be something simple, meaningful, and appropriate. Prior to this experience, neither of us had any idea about the vastness of different possibilities that are there for the taking – and the selections are rather intimidating. One of the barriers that we ran into was that Liam was so young, meaning that he hadn’t developed favorite anythings that we could highlight. There is every possible TV character, cartoon, sport, etc to choose from, but none of that was part of his life. So we had to think through our time with him, and we arrived at a design that we thought fit the bill of simple, meaningful, and appropriate.
We worked with a local (Denver) place to secure the stone, complete the design work, and have it made and temporarily installed by the year anniversary of when he died (Temporary because the ground is too frozen to properly install it. They will come back in a month or two when the ground thaws out some and permanently set it in place). And you know what? It feels good to have it there. We were a little surprised by feeling ‘good’ to have the headstone in place, but it was needed. Prior to the headstone arriving, any gravesite just gets something that actually can be described as a marker; so having the headstone installed lends a certain indescribable comfort.
The stone itself has a beveled top, is about two feet long, and about a foot-ish high at it’s highest point. It sits on a foundation that is a few inches larger all the way around, providing a place for people to leave things when they visit. The top features an Aspen tree on the left side (anyone that knows Ahna and I understands the meaning and importance to us), and stars surrounding his name (taken from The Little Prince, a book that we read to him while in the hospital). You’ll see his name, and life entering and departing dates; and at the bottom are the words “in our hearts.”
So if your in the area, stop by – his spot is a lot easier to find now. Leave something: a rock, a toy, a photo, anything you like. Visitors are good, and it’s good to visit.
In one of the stars, I shall be living. In one of them, I shall be laughing. And so it will be as if all the stars were laughing when you look at the sky at night.
~ The Little Prince, Antoine de Saint-Exupery