Day 5: Memorial
When you find out your pregnant, the last thing you worry about is finding the perfect spot to bury your child. "What to Expect When You're Expecting" doesn't exactly cover this...
My memory from the night Ellie died is rather fuzzy- same with the days following. But I can remember asking the nurse, "now what?" I was 27 years old. I didn't know anything about picking out a funeral home or cemetery. Picking out a headstone for my nine month old was furthest thing from my mind when I woke up that morning. But there we were.
Thankfully our parents stepped in and helped with the funeral home. To be honest, I have no idea how the funeral home we used was chosen. No clue... But I can remember by Dad telling us that we needed to be the ones to pick out the cemetery. They would come with us if we wanted, but it was really something we needed to do. He was right.
There aren't a lot of nice cemeteries in our area. We didn't want an old run down one or a place on the side of the road. We wanted it to be pretty and peaceful. Somewhere suitable for a baby. Years ago, I had visited one with my friend to find the resting spot of someone we knew. I remember being there, all those years ago, and thinking that it was a really beautiful place. So we went there first. We got there and discovered it was a memorial garden. They didn't allow monument type headstones. Thinking that this is what Ellie had to have, we said no and drove to several others. None were right.
So the next day, we returned to where we had started. Even though the wind was blowing and the rain was pouring down, we could see that this was the right place. Big green hills, old trees and quiet. You can hear the noise of everyone going about their lives off in the distance, but there, it's peaceful. We picked a spot between three gigantic pine trees near the top of the hill. Its beautiful.
We buried Ellie right before winter. The cemetery wouldn't be placing any headstones until the ground thawed so we decided to wait to design her headstone for a few months. To be honest, I knew Ellie deserved a beautiful memorial, but I could have avoided getting a real headstone for much longer. I liked the temporary one. Somehow in my mind, maybe it just made everything a little more temporary...
Ellie's headstone was finally placed mid summer. The cemetery had warned me that it was there so that it didn't shock me during one of my visits. I knew it was coming- we had finalized the mock-up and I even had brought a card and picture from Max to the cemetery for them to bury under the headstone a few weeks before. But nothing, NOTHING, can prepare you for seeing your baby's name written in stone.
That was it. It was official. It was permanent. The last decision we would ever make for our daughter was over.
It took a few times of seeing it and letting the shock wear off before I could really appreciate the beauty of Ellie's headstone. I love being able to see her sweet smile when we are out there visiting her. We wanted strangers that saw Ellie's stone to get a sense of our girl- our fun, sweet, beautiful girl. And I think they do...