The 15th-annual ceremony was held at Veterans Park on National Children's Memorial Day, Friday, Dec. 10.
As a group of about 30 parents and grandparents released Chinese lanterns into the cold, dark sky above Veterans Park in Flagler Beach, the memories of the children they lost were carried along with them.
“It’s our way of saying, ‘Hey, we love you. We think of you every day. Merry Christmas,’” Eileen Trinkle said at the Parents in Mourning candlelight memorial on Sunday, Dec. 10, which is National Children’s Memorial Day. The candle lighting was part of the 21st-annual Worldwide Candle Lighting, which was started by The Compassionate Friends.
Trinkle lost her daughter, Nikki, to a car crash caused by a drunk driver in 2006, when Nikki was 19 years old.
“We’re very good actors,” Trinkle said of parents who’ve lost a child. “We try to put up a smiling face, when inside, we’re dying. For the other family members, we try to keep a smile on our face.”
Parents in Mourning Founder Donna Lunsford encouraged the parents present to get through this holiday season together, with support from loved ones.
Lunsford’s son, Jonathan, was killed soon after his 19th birthday by a drunk driver on Cypress Point Parkway in 2000. Jonathan’s cousin, Eric Kearns, 20, was also killed in the crash.
“To some people, that might sound like a long time ago, but to a parent, it is not,” Lunsford said. “Time stands still.”
Lunsford completed graduate school and is preparing to take her medical boards exam to become a psychiatric nurse practitioner.
“I want to educate people and bring comfort and hope,” Lunsford said.
For the seventh year at this event, Captain Nick, a local musician, performed a series of songs for the parents. Pastor Barry Harris led the memorial service for the fourth year. The group then lit candles, honored their lost loved ones with a moment of silence and then watched as the Chinese lanterns floated away into the sky — creating a trail of light in the darkness.
Contact Donna Lunsford at 793-0273 or [email protected].