Friday, December 6, 2013

Lily's Stone Placement Ceremony

November 2nd was a special, sacred day that I will remember forever. It was the day that my daughter Lily Katherine finally got her permanent memorial stone to honor and celebrate her life. After more than 3 1/2 years of waiting, it was such a relief to finally have it at her special spot.

That Saturday morning, we installed her stone. And that afternoon at 1:30, we had a stone placement ceremony with friends and family at the Hillsboro Cemetery in Crozet, Virginia. As we all gathered together, I was reminded of the last time we were all together at the cemetery, coming up on four years ago... on March 27th, 2010 - the day of Lily's celebration of life service and burial. It brought back emotions and memories of that day of loss, love, and hope.

The day of Lily's stone placement ceremony was an absolutely gorgeous, perfect fall day. I live in North Carolina and only had one weekend for the installation and ceremony, so prayed hard for good weather. The Lord blessed us! It was one of those days where you just keep thinking to yourself how beautiful the weather is.

These photos were taken in Charlottesville, Virginia on the morning of Lily's stone placement ceremony... it was so beautiful with the fall leaves, blue skies, and mist.

I am glad my grandmother invited several people to come because I didn't... I wasn't sure if I wanted lots of people there and honestly didn't want to feel sad if I did invite people and they didn't come. It turns out, I was really glad for people to be there to honor Lily with me and I was pleasantly surprised by how many did come. I was so touched that family and friends joined me to honor and celebrate Lily and to see the stone that I put so much love into creating. My dad drove 8 hours total on that Saturday to make sure he was there for his granddaughter's stone placement... it brings tears to my eyes just to write that. It means more than words could ever say.

The people who were gathered around Lily's stone are (not in any particular order): my Aunt Sarah and Uncle Steve, friend Rachel, Pastor Bob and his wife Sharon, grandmother "Bumma," Uncle Bill and Aunt Nana, mom, dad, Uncle Lindy and Aunt Kristen, brothers Adam and Joseph, sister-in-law Kala, Uncle Tim, and friends Patricia and Joanne. Not pictured is my friend Elise who was taking the photo. I know more people wanted to come as well, but because of different reasons, were unable to make it.

I wish I had better quality pictures from the service, but wasn't thinking about it... I am thankful my sister-in-law Kala captured some shots with her iPhone.

Here are some photos of everyone waiting for the service to start.

The stone placement service was simple and sweet. I put a lot of thought into what I wanted to include in the service... unfortunately, some of the things I wanted to do didn't work out. For one, my grandmother has a friend who raises butterflies and I really wanted to release some butterflies at the service because butterflies are special and symbolic to me (Lily even has a butterfly on her stone). But, we were just a few weeks too late. The butterflies can only be released between certain warm months. I was really bummed out about this. However, everything still turned out really beautifully. And I am planning on releasing butterflies at another special time.

I requested that everyone gather around Lily's stone in a circle, which was so precious (I wish I had a photo of this)... Pastor Bob opened the service with a word of prayer and a message. I hadn't even invited my old pastor and his wife because as I said, I didn't really invite many people, but I am so glad my grandmother did invite them and that they were able to come! Having them there made it seem a little more "official." And it was so meaningful that Pastor Bob offered to say a few words in Lily's honor. Pastor Bob was my family pastor growing up, he baptized me the summer I was 14 (he also baptized my brothers), he officiated Lily's celebration of life service and burial, and he married my brother and sister-in-law a couple months ago. I also hope that he will one day marry me. He has been there for my family through all the highs and lows.

Here is a video that my sister-in-law Kala took of Pastor Bob sharing (I apologize for how windy it is):

After Pastor Bob shared, I shared about the meaning behind everything chosen for Lily's stone, what it means to me, and the journey of getting it (you can read what I shared HERE), I shared about the installation process and what a wonderful job my big brothers did (you can read about that HERE), and I explained the significance of sprinkling some of my sand from Carly Marie/Christian's Beach into the ground during installation (you can read about that HERE). I had Lily's name in the sand photo from Carly Marie to share with everyone.

I then played "Beauty Will Rise" by Steven Curtis Chapman... I turned it up as loudly as I could. This is one of my favorite songs and it has been so instrumental in my journey of grief and healing. My Aunt Helen gave it to me for Mother's Day 2010, just two months after Lily went Home to Jesus. I chose to include some of the lyrics from this song on Lily's headstone - Out of these ashes beauty will rise. That is my hope, that is the promise.

People were very moved by the song... during the song, my Uncle Lindy said he saw a cloud that looked like a lamb (Lily's stone has a lamb on it!). My Uncle Steve said he saw a baby with wings that turned into a heart in the clouds. How sweet!

After that, everyone visited for a while and we had red-velvet cupcakes in honor of Lily! Red-velvet is a tradition each year on her birthday because I had a Valentine's-themed baby shower with red-velvet cake. They were so delicious! My grandmother got the cupcakes for the service and we weren't sure how many we needed because we didn't know who all was going to come, so we guessed... it turned out that we had the exact number needed for everyone who wanted one. God worked that out... He cares about the smallest details in our lives. :)

Lily's stone with a red-velvet cupcake

I loved seeing everyone's reaction to Lily's stone and hearing their thoughts about it. It was so special for me to hear the precious things people were saying. Her special spot was decorated for fall and a few people brought her flowers (lilies and roses of course). The vibrant flowers looked gorgeous in Lily's vase and the mini pumpkins looked adorable.

The ceremony was so beautiful, simple, and sweet. I was blessed by those who came to remember and celebrate my beautiful girl with me. I love sharing her and it blesses my heart to know others love and miss her right along with me. 

Thank you to everyone who came to this special service... and to those who were unable to make it, thank you for thinking of my girl and I on this day. It was an emotional day and there was definitely some sadness, however I can honestly say the day was mainly full of happiness. I am just so happy that Lily finally has her stone. I am relieved and I am at peace. It is everything I ever wanted and more!

This photo was taken at Lily's special spot that afternoon after everyone left and it started getting cloudy... I was there for hours.

This photo was taken the afternoon after Lily's stone placement ceremony on the street my grandmother lives on in Crozet, Virginia.


1 comment:

  1. How absolutely wonderful!!!!!!!! How perfectly precious and special and oh-so-personal! Indeed how blessed she is, you are, and your whole entire family circle. Just truly breathtakingly beautiful. :)


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