We invite you to remember your loved ones who have died by committing an act of kindness in their honor. Love, kindness, generosity, sharing, these are the gifts we can give to them.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Kindness of Remembrance

This past weekend, we went to Hollywood Cemetery, an historic cemetery in Richmond, to take part in a Remembrance Ceremony at the Angel of Hope statue.

The statue was conceived by author Richard Paul Evans in his book The Christmas Box. Replicas of her stand in several cities across the country as memorials to children who have died.

The statue at Hollywood Cemetery came to being as a result of the tireless work of Ty Johnson and his wife Andrea whose 8 month old daughter Reagan Makenna died on March 6, 2004 of Shaken Baby Syndrome at the hands of her babysitter. In looking around the internet for an angel memorial stone for his daughter, Ty found the image of the Angel of Hope. The image of the statue stayed with him and after researching the Angel, he contacted Richmond's SCAN--Stop Child Abuse Now--to get help in his efforts to bring a statue to our community. You can read an article published last year about the Johnsons at this link to Richmond.com.

The Angel was dedicated just before Mother's Day, 2006. We were present for that dedication ceremony where we met the Johnsons. Since then, we have visited the Angel many times. Theo is buried 6 hours away from us, in my family's cemetery--a beautiful spot in Wise County on a beautiful mountaintop, and I am comfortable knowing he is buried with family--but it can be difficult not being able to just go to his grave whenever I feel the need. Having the Angel nearby has helped immensely. We visit the Angel statue regularly. In the picture above, you can see the dragonfly stone I painted for Theo in her hand. When we go, there are always other trinkets and notes from other families who visit the statue in memory of their children who have died.

Ty and Andrea have made possible a beautiful memorial not only to sweet Reagan's life, but to all children who have died, and have created in their act of kindness a place for all families to go to honor their children. Each December 6th, the Remembrance Ceremony is held at Angel of Hope statues all over the country. We gather together and speak the names of our children, hug one another, cry together and know that we are not alone in our grief and pain.

Thank you Ty and Andrea for making the Angel of Hope a reality in our community. Your Act of Kindness has done so much to help me and Jamie and, I know, so very many others as well.

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