About 100 Members of the Marco Island community gathered on a windy night on the Marco Island Cemetery grounds for the 17th ceremony in remembrance of young loved ones lost. It was an intimate memorial service that ran shorter than usual due to the unexpected downpour of rain. But rain and the loss of power was not enough to stop the ceremony. Members attending remained underneath umbrellas to offer their love and support to one another. A total of 216 names were read aloud in honor of the “little angels.”
Originating in Salt Lake City, Utah, Richard Paul Evans recognized the need to create the first monument that began a tradition that has grown. There are currently over 90 angel statues nationwide. Seven stand in various locations throughout Florida including Marco Island. This is a way for people from all walks of life to attend the service on the same night. Since everyone may not relate to losing a child, the grief that comes from this loss is often dealt with silently. The memorial service provides a safe space for people to know they are not alone.
For a moment, the rain stopped and people lit their candles. At the beginning of the service, event organizer, Sandy Boy, passed out candles and an angelornament to every attendee. Typically, as each name is called, one person will light a candle and pass on the flame to light up the candle of the next person. This continues until all the candles are lit and all attending share a moment of silence. The main goal is to share a period of togetherness with others regardless of the stage of grief each may be experiencing.
There was a musical group paying tribute to their close friend passing last year. A flute player, guitarist and vocalist harmonized lines from Silent Night and Amazing Grace. With the power out, the speakers were silent, but the voices transcended through the rainy night touching the audience.
As the ceremony finished, each person lay flowers at the feet of the Christmas Box Angel. Standing at 4’3” with a 5’2” wingspan, this angel provides hope for all in mourning. Some lingered on the cemetery grounds to pray, others to talk. If you are interested in placing an Angel Memorial Brick for a child who has passed, you may contact Tica Barret at the Marco Island Cemetery Office at 239-394-3469. In case you or someone you know is in need of support, there are local grief support groups on the Island. Coffee and Comfort Group, Compassionate Friends, Parents of Murdered Children and SHARE.