Family works for a headstone fit for a princess

LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) – Fifteen months ago on Sunday, 10-year-old Malia Ruiz died.

“It’s been hard,” Malia’s mother, Ryan Hall, said. “It gets harder actually as time goes by.”

News 18 previously profiled Malia as a hero among us. She was suffering from a heart and liver disease and was unable to receive a multi-organ transplant.

Then in November, we caught up with her grandmother, Jan Early, and Hall as they discovered Malia’s grave site had been vandalized.

Soon her grave site will be ready for a princess.

“Her headstone is going to be a castle because she was a princess with a butterfly etched and painted pink,” Early said. “Pink was her favorite color.”

Right now, a pink cover shields weeds growing at the site, but you don’t expect everything to look perfect when something is under construction.

Allen Monument Company is finishing up a one-of-a-kind headstone for Malia. The family is working to pay off the last $1,200 of the price.

“I can’t wait,” Hall said. “I’ve seen what the finished product is supposed to look like. It’s one-of-a-kind. It’s going to be beautiful. It’s everything she would want and more.”

Maybe the most special thing about the stone isn’t what you see from the road. It will have a QR code you can scan with your smart phone that will bring up Malia’s story.

“Just what a special little girl she was, and how she loved everybody,” Early said. “She taught us all about courage and love.”

It’s been a long journey, and it’s still continuing to get Malia’s grave site complete. Early and Hall said it’s all worth it.

“I don’t want anyone to forget how special she was,” Early said.

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