Friday, November 21, 2008

Set in Stone

* * * * * * *

Ode, Aaron Jr., and Leslie

THE FRONT


HERE IT IS...
It is finally done. They sent me an email last week of the rough draft so that I could approve it. Once I approved it, they could get started on the engraving and everything. They called on Wednesday morning to let me know they would be coming to install it on Thursday. I was so nervous. I was nervous about how I would feel seeing it and nervous about whether or not it would look the way I wanted it to. Well, it turned out beautifully.

Now, I will explain the meaning of everything. Of course, the names are self explanitory.
The reason I chose black granite is because I personally love the look of it, but also I just know that Aaron would have chosen black granite if HE were picking it out for us. I love how it turned out. It sets off the engraving really nicely.
The Salt Lake Temple is where we got married. That angle of it was taken from an actual photograph that my brother took of the temple on the day we got married. (that photo is further down on this posting)
August 21, 2002 through eternity is also self explanitory.
Those are Aaron Jr's handprints. Since he is our only child, I wanted something on the headstone that had to do with him. My friend Kerianne suggested doing his handprints and I ran with that idea. I loved it and I think it turned out so neat.


This is the photo of the temple that I sent to them to use.


This is what I sent to them to show them what I wanted the front to look like.



THE BACK


Here is the back of the headstone. I think I have mentioned on here before that Aaron and I both had a love for lighthouses. When we started writing to each other on our missions, I mentioned a love for lighthouses and the symbolism behind them. Well, he wrote back to me and told me a very spiritual and personal story about a lighthouse and how he feels about lighthouses and their symbolism. I read most of that letter when I spoke at Aaron's funeral. Here is the quote:


The quote on the back of the headstone is just one paragraph taken from that letter. Once Aaron passed away, this quote took on a whole new meaning for me. I focused more on the last few words he had written since it talks about 'every mans journey home'.
The lighthouse itself was taken from a photograph that I took of the very first lighthouse Aaron and I ever visited together. We went there on our honeymoon. It is in Florida and it is called the 'Ponce de Leon Inlet Light Station'. We both loved this lighthouse and we even bought a wooden replica of it and brought it home. It is now one of my treasures.

Because this lighthouse was inland, there was no water or rocks around it and I wanted there to be an ocean setting on the headstone. So, I found a photo that I took of the very last lighthouse Aaron and I ever saw together. We saw it together just a week and a half before he passed away. It is in San Francisco and it is called the 'Point Bonita Lighthouse'. I took that photo and superimposed the other lighthouse over that lighthouse. So, the lighthouse is from Florida and the surroundings are from San Francisco. (those two photos are also below in this posting)


Here are the original two photos of the lighthouses.


Here is what I emailed to them after photoshopping the lighthouse into this setting.

When I found out they were on their way to install it, I called Aaron's family so that they could come over to see it if they were available. After that, I found out that my mom and my sister, Lisa and her two youngest kids were in Salt Lake, so they came over to see it as well. I am bummed that I didn't think to get a photo of them while they were there. Next time for sure...
I was so grateful to all who could make it while I was there. I was glad to share those moments with you all.
Here are a few photos of the members of Aaron's family who were able to come and see it when they got it done.


Aaron's brother, Steve was at a meeting really close, so he got over there the quickest. I was so glad he could make it during work.


Aaron's parents were both out in Salt Lake working or running errands as well, so they headed over as well.


I had been trying for an hour to get Aaron Jr. to put his hands on his handprints and he finally did it with the help of Grandpa. Thanks Steve.


When I told Aaron Jr. we were going to see Daddy's headstone, he was very anxious to get out of the car. He doesn't know what a headstone is, so as he got out, he started saying 'I want Daddy.' Then, once he was out of the car, he started yelling 'Daddy, Daddy.' Then saying again, 'I want Daddy.' When we got to the site, I patted my hand on the grass and said, 'Daddy's right here, Aaron.' Then he started saying over and over, 'No, Daddy's not there'. When I asked him, 'Where's Daddy?' He said, 'I don't know.'

I wonder when he will be old enough to understand. Right now, he just doesn't understand and that is okay. There will come a time in his life when I might wish he was still young enough not to understand. Those times will be when he is having a really hard time not having his Daddy around for all of the events in his life. Right now, I am okay with him not understanding. He is still just a happy and cheerful little boy who makes me laugh and smile every single day.

It was a surreal feeling standing there looking at the headstone of my 30 year old husband. I had very mixed emotions as I sat there staring at it. It felt wrong, but at the same time... since this IS my reality, I was really grateful that it was here before the year anniversary rolled around next week. That is what I have wanted all year. I am glad it is done. I am glad to have something to look at when we go to visit Aaron's gravesite. Being able to look at our names together and also be able to read that quote over and over will bring some comfort and peace when we are there. I really love the way it turned out. I could go on and on about my feelings regarding the headstone, but I will stop there.

I did want to say thank you to all of you who have been so thoughtful and willing to share your love and concern through comments and prayers. I am always strengthened through your loving words and I am grateful to you all...


Aaron, I love you eternally...

* * *

48 comments:

Clippy Mat said...

Leslie:
It is beautiful. A real tribute to your husband and your love. I hope that you find peace when you go to visit there.
Best wishes,
:-))

LL said...

Leslie, it's PERFECT! What sweet personal touches you had added. LOVE Aaron Jr's handprints.

Vicki said...

Oh wow, it turned out really good!! And I love the quote! Leslie, you are always in my thoughts and prayers. I hope you're doing well! Love you lots!

Michelle said...

Leslie I love it. It is beautiful. The story behind each and every piece of the beautiful picture. Thank you for sharing another piece of your heart.

christa said...

I ran over there with the kids yesterday afternoon after Isaac woke up from napping and I think it is so beautiful. I love how bold the HARKNESS is. It was the first thing I saw when I drove up. Steve was also excited about it when he called and told me about it. I'm so glad you called him when you did, so he was able to come by. I honestly don't think he's ever been in that area around that time before, so that was incredible timing.

Mindy said...

It's beautiful, Leslie! I love the personal touches on it... how each picture is from an actual photograph from your life together. I also love the quote on the back. The handprints are a perfect touch. Love you!

dani said...

leslie, it is perfect in every way:)
love,
dani

BeckyinQC said...

I had tears in my eyes reading and looking at the pictures of the headstone. That process was so excruciating for me. No suprise to me at all, you did an INCRIEDIBLE job!! You made it so personal and absolutely beautiful at the same time! You are such an amazing person and the care, thoughtfulness and consideration you put into this is just one of the ways we see it.

Amber said...

It is so beautiful! I really love how personalized you made it, it will be a wonderful place for you to visit.

Matchbox Mom said...

Wow...it turned out so nice! I love how you made it your own...it's awesome! Thank You for being such a strength to so many of us. You are a brave, brave woman who I admire so much. We will continue to pray and fast for you and Aaron Jr.

Loves

Cloward Family said...

What a beautiful headstone. You did a great job designing it...it brought tears to my eyes. I can't even imagine how you must be feeling this month...hang in there and take care.

Kristi said...

It looks so great. I know you were wanting it to be so fitting of him, and it is. I can't wait to go visit the site. We haven't been there since last year.
My heart breaks over and over again when I hear of these stories of Aaron calling out for his dad. I think it shows that Aaron is remembering his dad if, even at his young age, he is asking for him after a year's time. His dreams must be filled with him, still close in contact, fishing shark :).

Kim said...

Thanks for continuing to share with us. It's a beautiful monument.

Momza said...

Thank you for sharing this very tender moment with all of us. Aaron's headstone is almost as beautiful as the Legacy he has left behind in you and Aaron Jr.
Well done young sister, well done.

Momza said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Marc and Megan said...

Leslie, the headstone is really so beautiful. I don't know how you could make it any more perfect. The excerpt from his letter to you is powerful. Thank you for continuing to share your story and Aaron's life. Blessings and love to you.

Brenda said...

It turned out great, Leslie! You did such a good job on designing it, and adding things that were meaningful to you.

Brandy said...

Les, I hate death. I really struggle with all of it, more than most people. The symbolism of it really - hearses, headstones, cemeteries, coffins, etc. I just don't deal well with it at all. When I read the title of you entry, I knew what it was going to be and I almost skipped this one. I didn't want to cringe at something so precious to you. I went ahead and read it and I was so happy to appreciate Aaron's headstone. I love how you designed it. It isn't sad and depressing at all. It's uplifting and loving. You did an incredible job. It made it personal to me, which made it less uncomfortable than most. Thank you for sharing it with us. I am glad that it made it up before the anniversary as well. The picture of Aaron Jr. with his hands on the handprints is my favorite.

kristen said...

Truely Beauty Full
That piece from the letter brings tears to my eyes.

So beauty FULL....
SO loved .........
SO unfair.........

Joann said...

Wow, Leslie! It really is amazing! The lighthouse scene is incredible. I am so impressed. Aaron will love it, I am sure. I hope you are doing well. I conitinue to pray for you and little Aaron. Love to you!

kathryn said...

Dear Leslie:

The stone is truly a magnificant testimony of your unending love for Aaron.

I am lost for other words because it is simply perfect.

I pray for peace and comfort.

kathryn

PS: Aaron Jr.'s hat rocks!

amanda said...

It really turned out great. You did a great job. I hope it brings you peace to visit. I think of you often and pray for you always.

Natalie said...

Leslie:

This post, as always, is beautiful. I've never seen a headstone with so much time and effort put into it. It is remarkable! I, too, think of you and Aaron Jr. often and continue to pray for you.

Jen said...

Leslie~

I think Aaron's head stone came out beautiful! I know I don't know you but after reading your story I think you did a great job picking out what was important to both of you. I also love the back, the light house is incredible.

You did an amazing job. I hope it is peaceful there when you visit. Beautiful pictures on your blog as well.

If you would like to see Shawn's headstone it is also posted on my blog. I wanted his to be bigger, but where he is at all headstones had to be flat. It was important to me that he be in that cemetary so I dealt with the flat headstone instead. Like you I picked out things that were important to Shawn.

Let me know if you would like to exchange emails.

I will be thinking about you over the next few days.
~Jenny

K and K and kids said...

It is truly beautiful, Leslie. It is perfect. Love ya. See you next week!

Sasha Fisher said...

Very beautiful and touching headstone. Thanks for a good cry.

Scott / Lori said...

We are really anxious to see it. I am glad it has finally arrived, it seemed wrong when there was no real marker there. Yes, the black granite is beautiful and I think it came out just as you had hoped, right? I am sure it is a mixed blessing......it is finally here and it is finally here. A little more permanent and yet more to remind you of him. We love you all. Aaron Junior's stories just break my heart. I can hardly bear to think about it. As we approach a year it seems impossible. Just remember we are here for you and love you.

Sara said...

Oh, the stone is just beautiful. You put so much thought into designing the headstone, and it shows. I think it is the perfect representation of you and Aaron and your love for each other.
I am glad Aaron's family got to come out and share this time with you.
Continuing to pray for you and your son.

Tabitha said...

Leslie ~ that is just so beautiful ~ Tears in my eyes yet again!
Thinking of you ~ and sending love and hugs as always XXXX

PS ~ I love light houses too ~ and the picture you chose for the back of the stone and those words are just wonderful ~ very special XXXX

Anonymous said...

Leslie you break my heart if i could hug both of you i would...judi ontario canada

Matt and Shauna said...

I read this entry at work soon after you posted it and I don't have sound on my computer. So, when I opened it up tonight, it was so moving. My heart goes out to you - especially this month. You have taught me a lot this year and I thank you for that. Thanks for always sharing your testimony to me and to others. You are not alone! Love you tons and wish I was in Utah shopping with you!!

Vanessa and Kara said...

Wow Leslie ~ it's just perfect.

When the day comes that Aaron Jr. does understand, he will also understand just how lucky he is to have you as his mummy. You're an amazing person and that alone will lead him to an extraordinary life.

Thinking of you even more this week.

V x

Anonymous said...

Just beautiful, Leslie. So thoughtful and full of love - just like you.

Love,

Jane

Anonymous said...

I remembered something you had written, and went looking for it. This is what you said on December 29 last year:

" It needs to be perfect. It needs to be one that reflects Aaron's life. One that he would have picked out for himself. One that he would be proud to have there. One that shows to the world what kind of life he lived."

Mission accomplished.

Love,

Jane

Leslie said...

THANK YOU FOR THAT, JANE...

Anonymous said...

Hugs...

Jane

Does it come in pink? said...

What a great job you have done, I hope it brings you comfort this week. Although you've had to do a job that no wife ever wishes to do you have done it to perfection.

Although Aaron jr wont have his Daddy to grow up with he's blessed to have so many wonderful male role models in your families. He'll never want for a male guiding his decisions.

Much love this week,

Em

April said...

It looks great, Les. I wish I could have been there in person with you and Aaron Jr. to see it... but, thanks for posting it. Seeing the headstone does make it feel more real... more final. But, what a wonderful memorial. Love from us Whitings.

Leslie said...

You know, you make it really hard to read your posts with the way you write...I always have tears running down my face.

What a beautiful stone and tribute to Aaron. I love all of the symbolism!! I think you did a perfect job picking out everything!!

Tawnie said...

beautiful Leslie. Very fitting.

cucciolo25 said...

Wow Leslie! I love it. It is just beautiful. I can't wait to see it over Christmas. (At least I think that we are coming then.) We love you very much. It was good to have you here for a while. I can't believe we are less than a week shy of 1 year! Amazing. See you soon.

Spencer

Jennifer said...

I found your blog through Tale of Two Coins.
I am so sorry for your incredible loss! I cannot imagine how hard it must be for you. Your love for the Lord is obvious and such an inspiration!
I love the headstone, I have never seen one quite like that. My Mom passed away of cancer 7 months ago yesterday, and her stone had to be flat in the cemetery that my parents chose, but I still love it! It is imporatnt to have a beautiful place to "visit" them. Even though we know they are in a much better place!
I will be praying for you these next few days....

Jennifer

Seesalou said...

i was glad to be there the day they put it in, les. but our family will be going next week too. it is a beautiful marker. i have felt a sadness as the year mark approaches; i can't imagine how you must feel. it's a good thing you have that smiley boy to keep you going. we love you, all three of you.

Anonymous said...

As I sit here alone tonight because my Husband works nights, I can't help but think of you. I miss my Husband sooo much when he works nights, but I can't even begin to imagine the pain you feel to have to wait such a long time to see him again. I am so sorry for your loss. Your words inspire many and you are full of strength even though it may seem impossible sometimes. Have a wonderful Holiday season!

Allred Mom said...

Leslie,
The headstone is so beautiful and so perfect! I love that you chose tp put each of you as a part of it. The handprints are such a special significance that will have so much meaning to Aaron Jr as he grows. The craftsmanship is so beautifully done and they did so well with the emails that you sent them. You were amazing with Adobe photoshop! The lighthouse and the letter that Aaron wrote to you are such a special part of it. It is all so beautifully done and so perfect. What a legacy that Aaron has left for you and for Aaron Jr. to continue to grow and learn from. May you feel such great joy that you accomplished this task that was so incredibly hard to do, and came out so beautiful. Hugs to you!

Christine said...

Leslie...well i have been meaning to get on your blog for while now and seeing those pictures of the headstone just made me cry and hearing sweet little Aaron Jr. I hope you are ok...I know this must be such a hard month for you...this is the same month my mom died...its one full of beauty and melancholy. I will keep you in my prayers this week and through the 29th. I hope the Lord can give you strenght and peace. Really the headstone is just beaufitul and I love how you used pictures from your brother and one you took...I love the lighthouse theme and that you put a quote of Aaron on there. My dad did simillar things with my mom...BOuntiful Temple picture that my sister had drawn, a quote from a poem my mom wrote that was published in the Ensign and a picture of her. It is a special place to go to whenver I'm home in Bountiful...I know you will love and cry as you go often, but I have had great times "talking" to my mom when I've visited. I just love you leslie and it was fun to see what you've been up to since you left Oregon. I was dying at the "bum boy" you had Aaron jr. dress up as...that was too cute. YOu have such beautiful pics on your blog...you really are talented with photography. Well i will stop now but it ws great getting back on here and I will do it more often for sure. Take care and hang in there.

yellowoman said...

Leslie,

Soooo perfect. So beautiful. So very thoughtful, creative, and personal. I absolutely love it and hope it will bring to you each time you go and visit. I love you and will be thinking of you next week.

love ya.

Anonymous said...

I stumbled across your blog and just had to say bless you. The words you have written are inspiring and I wish you peace on Saturday for the anniversary of your husbands passing... enjoy your son, he is beautiful.

-Lindsey