Lily's stone was installed on the morning of Saturday, November 2nd. My brothers, mom, grandmother, sister-in-law, and I met two men who are involved with Hillsboro Cemetery in Crozet, Virginia at 9:00 a.m. They had to be there to show us where the stone should be placed, to overlook the installation process, and to make sure everything went smoothly.
A monument company in Seattle, Washington created Lily's stone. It was completely custom-made! I had tried to find a monument company in Virginia to work with who could give me exactly what I was looking for, but had no success. I am so incredibly thankful the Lord led me to this company that gave me everything I wanted and more! They would have installed the stone for me, but obviously they on the opposite coast than where Lily is buried so that would be a little difficult. The company tried to find a place in Virginia to install the stone for me for a reasonable price. However, for a quick installation, they were wanting to charge me $200-$300, which is just outrageous... I got the impression that they were offended I worked with a company in another state and therefore didn't want to install it.
Cemeteries have many different rules and regulations regarding how the actual stone can look, what can be left at the cemetery as decorations, etc. I am thankful that Lily is buried at a cemetery where I was able to pick the exact stone I want and I can leave any decorations I want. They are not strict at all. And they allowed us to do the installation ourselves, which many cemeteries would not allow. This is a benefit of a small country cemetery, rather than a city cemetery. The stone itself, granite foundation, and shipping costs were already very expensive, so I didn't want to pay hundreds more for installation. Thank God for a flexible cemetery. And thank God for two strong big brothers who were willing to install Lily's stone for me for FREE! They saved me hundreds of dollars!
The monument company in Seattle shipped Lily's stone directly to my home in North Carolina. They were going to send it to Virginia, but I was nervous about it getting damaged in some way either waiting at the church or at the cemetery until I could arrive. Since I live in another state, I had to plan the trip up there and didn't know exactly when I could get there. I had wanted to go at the end of September, then in October... but it didn't end up working out until early November. So they were able to send it to my home, then I brought it to Virginia in my car (lots of careful lifting and packing!) Because Lily's stone is small, my brothers were able to handle it safely. I didn't want to be uneasy about if her stone was safe or not and knew that the best place for it to be was with me... and it was so special to be able to have her stone at my home for a little over a month. I had it sitting in my living room for a while and could just see how beautiful it is every day.
For several weeks before the installation, I was nervous thinking about how it was going to work out. Obviously my brothers have never installed a headstone before and we were completely clueless about how to do it. I didn't want it to be done poorly, especially because it is a permanent thing and it was very expensive. The monument company in Seattle was able to give me step-by-step instructions on how to install it, which I really appreciated. It wasn't too complicated and was quite interesting to see how it works. They were very patient with answering my questions and explained it in detail. The gentleman who gave me the instructions offered to help on the morning of the installation if we needed it (even though it was going to be 6 a.m. on the west coast!) I had to call to ask a few more questions late the Friday night before and he was so helpful and kind.
It took us probably more than twice as long as it would take someone who installs headstones on a regular basis, but I am so impressed with how it turned out!
We had so many different tools to work with for the installation. We thought ahead and planned out everything we would need. I am glad we didn't forget anything. I did have to take a trip to Lowe's on that morning to get a couple more things we needed.
How the installation process went - we dug a hole for the granite foundation first (after figuring out exactly where the stone needed to be). I chose to pay for this foundation, rather than having to go through the process of pouring concrete (way more complicated). We had to get that leveled out, which was difficult because the ground is not flat. Then, we eased the bottom part of Lily's stone onto the foundation. We had to put the silicone in the holes and use nails... then we did the same with the tablet easing down onto the bottom part of the stone. The monument company in Seattle already had already put the lamb on top. We had to put small plastic pieces in between each part for expansion purposes when it freezes (I had no idea about all of this beforehand). Then we filled in the cracks between the pieces with clear silicone. At the end, we filled the sides around the foundation with dirt and sand and then placed the vase, using a nail and silicone. I had the stone face the way that all the other stones in the cemetery face and put the foundation in the ground so that the vase would be on the right side... that makes it easier for cars when they are pulling in to see the pretty flowers and decorations in the vase.
Here are some photos of the installation process.
I poured some of my sand from Christian's Beach into the ground during installation. This is the beach in Australia where Lily's name has been written many times... Carly Marie's artwork has been a huge part of my grief and healing, so it was so special to have a little of that sand at Lily's final resting place. My friend Tiffany who lives in California was able to meet Carly Marie recently and got me a little bottle of the sand! It arrived just in time for Lily's stone installation. :)
We used blue tape to put the clear silicone on.
So that is how Lily's stone installation went... I am so thankful it went smoothly! It was such a relief when it was finished... I will share soon about Lily's Stone Placement Ceremony that happened that afternoon.