I've never shared a picture of Ryan's headstone. (I think technically it's not a headstone. It's a niche or something. I'm not sure what to call it. The language of loss often still feels awkward on my tongue and fingertips). But for these intents and purposes I'll call it a headstone. I think I always worried if I shared it, it would make people uncomfortable. Like it was morbid to be taking pictures of a grave site. But again, I don't think it's my job to worry about the comfort of others in terms of my son's death. I'll never be comfortable with it either. So I thought, today, more for the sake of people who love him who might not get the chance to visit him there as often as I do, I thought I would share it. And the story around it.
We rushed to get it finished in the Fall. If we didn't submit our "design" for it by a certain point in October, it would have had to wait until the Spring. I couldn't stand the thought of Ryan laid to rest in an unmarked place for so long, so we went ahead, and in the fog of early grieve, tried to find the words for something so significant to fit on a space so small.
Like most things with Ryan, I felt rushed. We didn't have enough time together. We didn't have enough time to say goodbye. And with this, I just felt like we didn't have enough time.
For a while after we submitted our plans to the cemetery and after the work was done, I worried we rushed it. That maybe we should have waited. Maybe we made wrong decisions.
But now, I think that was just my parenting instincts. Parents of living children are always questioning their decisions and choices (at least in my experiences with parents -- new and otherwise). We always want to make the best choices for our children. We want to "do good by them." We want to give them the best of ourselves. We want them to have only the best.
And for me, with Ryan's headstone, it was no different. Should we have had to make those decisions for him? No. Not ever. But we did.
We poured our hearts onto that square piece of granite. And when I visit him, I look at it, and I feel connected to him. It was, unfortunately, one of the few truly important duties we would have as his parents. To create that space for him. And the fact that we were able to do it while the weight of his loss pushed us down lower than we had ever been is remarkable. And a testament of our incredible love for him.