Note: This post was originally shared on my “widowhood” blog, “Frances 3.0: Still in Beta”.
For nearly eight months, I’ve been putting off ordering a headstone for Paul. Even after I knew what I wanted, I still couldn’t bring myself to start the process of ordering something. I hoped that at some point, I would just feel ready to face the task, and planned to wait until then. I don’t know exactly when it happened, but at some point during my trip to the UK, I knew it was finally time to make the call.
Over the summer I thought a lot about what I wanted as a marker for Paul’s grave. I knew I wanted something simple and traditional, but something that was fitting for both of our likes. Knowing that it would need to include a cross, I decided that I would include Paul’s favourite cross: the St. Martin’s Cross from the Iona Abbey in Scotland. Paul always enjoyed talking about the island’s role in bringing Christianity to Britain, and we were looking for a nice replica of the cross to hang in our living room.
There are a few ideas I have in mind, so my father contacted a family friend, Nick, who works with the monument company to arrange for the three of us to meet. Talking with Dad and Nick about what I wanted, instead of people who didn’t know me or Paul, was very helpful. I didn’t feel any pressure, and both know that I am strong-minded and would not be asking for things I wasn’t certain I wanted.
We talked about the three options I was interested in and looked at the granite available that would best work for the detail needed on the cross. I asked questions about timing and placement, and was reassured by Nick that they’ll make sure it’s exactly what I want. And because my father also knows the monument designer, he will be able to work with him and can even stop into the shop to ensure everything is placed correctly should I get worried about the process.
At some point, it dawned on me that it was the weekend before Christmas and what I should have been doing was picking up last-minute stocking-stuffers for Paul and the children we were meant to adopt. Instead, I was pondering granite samples for his headstone. I still need to decide what to put on the marker, but I have a few weeks to do that yet. I’d originally planned to have part of the last verse from a song that means a lot to me placed there, but when I saw that Paul’s university friends used those same words for his memorial there, I wondered if I would think about other words that may be fitting.
I had promised myself that I would order a headstone for Paul by next April, and am very proud of myself for finally making steps toward doing that. Depending on the complexity of my final order, it is even possible that the stone can be in place sometime in April. It will be hard to see our names etched in stone when the time comes, but I know it will feel good to know I’ve done this for Paul. And I’m sure he’ll be proud of me for making such a big decision without him.