Sunday, June 10, 2012

His headstone

How do you pick out a stone to mark the grave of your son? How do you decide what to put on it...what's good enough for him? What's perfect just like he is?

We put a lot of thought into Marcellu's headstone, a lot. We picked the stone out two days after his funeral. I didn't remember what his stone looked liked because it had been so long. Plus we had chosen it at a time where we were running on auto pilot, I don't remember much from that time at all. I just remember that we agreed on the stone.

From the very start we knew we wanted something to do with Marcellus's song on his headstone. When I was pregnant Mike made up a lullaby that he sang to the baby every night. It goes,

"Goodnight little baby, goodnight.
The stars in the sky are shining bright.
Sleep tight little baby, sleep tight.
Mommy and Daddy love you with all their might!"

We sang it every night to him in the NICU and we continue to sing it to him every single night. It is his song. His lullaby. Daddy made it up just for him. To put the whole song on the headstone made it look very cluttered and too wordy. We opted to just just the second part. I guess it seemed fitting to use the words "sleep tight" now that Marcellus sleeps in eternity. 

I was so so so nervous that I wouldn't like how Marcellus's stone turned out. But when Mike and I first went to the cemetery ourselves to see it, I was taken back. Now how could I find the words to say I love my son's headstone? It's hard to verbalize that because there should be no headstone to love. I should love my son's drawings to me, not what we came up with to etch into the stone that marks where his body is laid to rest. Here is a picture of Marcellus's stone.

We were set on his name, dates, and "son of Morgan and Michael" in carving from the beginning. The middle part is etched. It's not as easy to see as the carving, but I did not like the way things looked in the carving draft. The wording (the second part of his song), "Sleep tight little baby, sleep tight. Mommy and Daddy love you with all their might!" is actually written in my handwriting. Daddy came up with the words and Mommy got to write them especially for our sweet boy. The moon and starts in the middle 1) go with the nighttime lullaby, 2) the moon connects to his story "Guess How Much I Love You" which ends with the line "I love you right up to the moon and back." 3) there are three starts to represent the three of us - Mommy, Daddy, and Marcellus - together forever.

And I love it. I have to say it even if it's hard to comprehend. The stone still needs to be set in cement and will need to be flush with the ground. I wish it could stay up like it is now, but unfortunately the baby section that he is in requires them to be level with the ground. It will still be beautiful. It is not your typical looking headstone. I like that. I like that it is something unique, special, and oh so meaningful just for my little squirmy wormy. 

We had a prayer service and blessing of Marcellus's headstone. We invited family and had a good turnout. We first gathered around and explained to everyone the meaning behind each part of the design. The priest then took over and did the blessing of the stone. He used the same holy water that was used at Marcellus's baptism (that is quite a story itself, basically the priest in the hospital came without holy water and so we have kept the water that he blessed for the baptism). 

 After the blessing the priest continued the prayer service. I have to admit that at that point I stopped really hearing what he was saying. I just stared down at Marcellus's stone and all I could think about is how my baby was under there. In the ground. It was a tough moment. But overall the service was very beautiful and I'm so thankful we did that for him. And so very thankful for everyone that came!

  There are a couple of other baby boys in the same row as Marcellus that have cars at their spots. Since seeing that my mom has been saying we need to get Marcellus cars so he can play with the other boys and not be jealous of theirs. I wanted to wait until his stone was put in so that we could put them on the flat surface of the cement. So I told everyone that if they would like to pick out a special car for Marcellus they could bring it to the prayer service (this is when I thought it would already be in the cement). Everyone did bring him a car. It really touched my heart that they wanted do to that for him. You can see them around his headstone in the picture below.
Afterward we went and had pizza. We had a slideshow of pictures running on my laptop. My aunt did a great job asking about Marcellus. When we were home right after he died we only saw her at the funeral and so there wasn't much time to talk. She wanted to see pictures and know more about him. Not many people actually ask questions about what he was like or what it was like to be with him in the NICU or even what it was like the day he was born and the day he died. She asked questions about all of it, good questions. Yes some of those questions are hard to talk about, they can bring tears to my eyes. But they are questions about my son and I want everyone to know all about him. She asked about him and she asked about us. She asked about our support network here and we told her about group. It reminding me a lot about the friend I mention at the end of this post. Acknowledgement of my baby boy. Acknowledgement of my pain. Acknowledgment of my motherly love. Acknowledgement that he was here and he is still with us. Acknowledgment. So important for grieving parents.

I don't know if I've said this before, but once I read somewhere another loss mom said something along the lines of...If you ask a question about my baby and it makes me cry, that just means you asked a good question. I really wish I could remember where I read that so I could have the rest of the context and give credit to that person. I'm sure it was on a blog. That part just really stuck with me though because it rings true in my heart as well. Never be afraid to ask me about my baby just like you wouldn't be afraid to ask me if he were living. You can't ask the same questions like "how is he doing today" but you can ask me what he was like, what it was like to be in that NICU with him, about his headstone, about things we still do for him today, about how much I love and miss that little guy. He can still be talked about and believe me, even if no one asks  I will talk about him for the rest of my life!

Marcellus, I hope you like your headstone. We worked hard on getting it just right for you and I think it came out as well as a headstone can. It's all for you and you know what each one of those things on their means. It's extra special to have the part of your song in my handwriting. And those three stars, that's us...we are together forever. You are always with us here and one day we will come to you and really be together for eternity. Love and miss you baby boy. I hope you are sleeping tight. Mommy and Daddy love you with all their might! xoxox


  1. Marcellus's headstone is beautiful and so special! Especially the secret message aspect of it :). Thank you for letting me spend time with you there. I almost cried reading to him! I'm sorry things didn't go as they should have with getting the stone set. Either way, it looked great. I will have to stop by soon! I love you. You are a great Momma for sharing this and making sure this stone is so special for Marcellus!

  2. Oh Morgan it is so beautiful and special! I am so sorry you had that sad moment but these are difficult thing to do that no mamma should ever have to do. I love the teddy bear and all his things so precious. I am praying for you I know it is a sad tough time. I really love that quote and will have to use it also so true, I love when people ask me about Johnathan. Praying for you my friend.

  3. That is a really beautiful headstone, and I think he does appreciate all the thought and care you put into choosing it and making sure it is just right for him.
    Jason and I chose to have River cremated, and we keep her remains in a silver double heart "locket" that goes into a special pocket on a plush "Teddy" bear.
    We brought the bear home from the funeral home on April 22, and she rested on top of our dresser for almost 7 weeks; but this past weekend, I decided that I wanted her closer to us, so now she sits on our bed, between us, and we take turns holding her as we sleep.

    1. Sometimes I wonder if we should have had Marcellus cremated because it is so very difficult to be far from him. I plan on writing about that at some point. I think it's beautiful that you have River with you.

  4. What a beautiful stone with such thought and meaning. I'm so happy to read that it all turned out okay and that you love it.

  5. The prayer service sounds so sweet...I wish I could have been there. It's so neat that everyone brought him cars.

    I absolutely LOVE his stone and the meaning behind it...I don't think it could be any more perfect. I hope to one day visit it in person. <3

  6. I was looking for ideas for a headstone for my baby daughter that died on Sunday, July 7, 2013. I think you are a wonderful mother to Marcellus!

    1. I am so sorry for the loss of your precious daughter! I hope you can find some comfort in some of my blog posts or other online resources. I have hardly been writing here lately, but am still thankful to have this space for Marcellus.

  7. I'm sorry for your loss of your sweet boy. He was a handsome fella. I just lost my sweet princess three weeks ago. My Sadie Grace was four days old. Cancer on her brain. Very unexpected. I'm not sure what I'm doing. It's been a lot. Too much at times. God bless you and all you've been through, you're an amazing person. Thank you.