Monday, May 28, 2012

Declan's Memorial Stone

Today I sit and reflect on my weekend.  Memorial day weekend... a weekend to honor those who have proudly served our country and paid the ultimate sacrifice.  I thought about my wonderful husband and the sacrifice he made for this great country... thank God his sacrifice was not his life, but instead time away from his family.  Twenty two months spent away from his then 7 month old son... 660 some days away from first steps, baby giggles, squishy arm hugs and open mouth slobber kisses.  Time that he will never have back.  Memories he will never have. I think about that and how sad I once was for those lost moments, how crushed I was at the time stolen from both dad and son.  Over the past 15 weeks life has been put into a perspective I wasn't prepared for.  What once was so sad is not but a brief bump in the road...a detour on the journey of life.  My heart now aches for the memories we both are missing out on... for the first steps, first roll overs, first baby food adventures, first words and as all parents know this list goes on forever.... Nate missed 22 months of my oldest sons life, but he still gets to go fishing with him.  He still gets to sit at his football games and cheer him on.  He still gets to sit him down and have 'the talk' with him.  We have a life time of memories left to make with our living children.... it is the memories we know we could have had with Declan that pull at my heart...that make me sick with pain and shake with anger! It is the neverness that is overwhelming.... It is coming to terms, 15 weeks later, that there is no end to this.  The curtain can close there is nothing more to tell of his story, never will there be another story to tell.... we will come to a time when Declan will have been gone 1 year, 2 years... 5 years.... 17 years.... it doesn't stop at 15 weeks.  Next week will be 16 weeks.... it doesn't stop.  This death... this end of life continues every day that I am alive and I often feel smothered with that knowledge.  I feel beaten down and tired by the day to day reminders of our loss.... but somehow each day comes, I get up and go about my life.... I take pleasures in the small things.... a kiss from Courty and story from Noah.... I'm learning to say "who cares" to messes and "yes please" to play dates... each day holds something different... some crazy new emotion I wasn't prepared for or expecting... but I had been preparing myself for the first time I would see Dex's headstone.... I expected it to be hard.  I expected tears....but I am not sure you can ever be prepared to see your child's memorial... there are no words for how emotionally draining it was for both Nate and myself to see it.  It is beautiful and wonderful and exceeds our expectations and at the same time was gut wrenchingly hard to see.  "I lift my eyes until to the hills, where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth"...we will get through this....

The toy tractors are from Noah's birthday cake this year.... The pinwheels are something I picked up because I thought they were fitting for a child. 

One of my ALL TIME favorite books to read to the kids is Guess How Much I Love You.... where the baby bunny is trying to have his dad guess how much he loves him... the baby bunny tells his dad all the different ways he loves him... but the father bunny always can 'one-up' him.  In the very end of the book, the baby says, "I love you right up to the moon" thinking nothing could be further than the moon and then he falls asleep... the dad bunny then says, "I love you to the moon and back." The kids and I say that to each other frequently... although Noah has gotten pretty clever with how much he loves me lately... and is hard to 'one-up'! 

Those are Declan's actual hand prints we had taken at Children's.  The verse in the corner says, "If tears could build a stairway and memories a lane, I'd walk right up to heaven and bring you back again."  


  1. It's just beautiful and it's evident how much time and love was put into creating a wonderful tribute to Declan.

  2. Seeing the pictures only faintly shows how beautiful it truly is. I was in awe. And speechless.

  3. Holle & Nate - that is the most beautiful headstone I have ever seen. It truly is a wonderful tribute to your beautiful little Declan.

  4. the stone is beautiful and heart breaking all at the same time. I'm sure it touches everyone who walks by it! You did a beautiful job putting it together and decorating the site!

  5. This is beautiful. And your son is precious! My son passed away just shy of three months. We have yet to find a stone for him. Where did you start?

    1. If you can believe it, we were starting to get approached by different monument companies inquiring about our plans! I was shocked and upset at first, but realized we did need to proceed with something… we began by talking to our funeral director who told us which company he prefers and we called them. My husband and I took a day off to drive around different cemeteries to see what we liked and than we went in to meet with the 'stone maker' (I am sure he has an official title, but beats me what it is!) and together we hammered out what we wanted. We knew we wanted his hand prints on the stone and we thought we wanted his foot prints too, but after seeing a mock up print of it, we didn't like it. We also changed the font multiple times and work with different quotes to put on the stone. We were not going to choose the stairway to heaven one because to engrave it on the stone would have taken up to much space, but once you laser something on the surface, there was no extra price to do more lasering… so we had it lasered which made it small enough to put on there. The quote on the back is from our favorite children's book, "Guess How Much I Love You." It was a difficult, emotionally draining experience, but I LOVE the finished product and think it turned out perfectly. Let me know if you have anymore questions Mary!

      I am sorry to hear about your precious little Liam! :(