Walk to Remember honors memories of babies lost

MANISTEE — One by one the white balloons silently floated skyward after being launched with smiles, tears and wrapped in love.

Each balloon carried the name of baby lost to stillbirth, miscarriage or early infant death syndrome. The moving ceremony was part of the Fourth Annual Walk to Remember that is held every October during National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Month.

The Walk To Remember honored babies lost to stillbirth, miscarriage and early infant death.

The Walk To Remember honored babies lost to stillbirth, miscarriage and early infant death.

This year the ceremony was moved to St. Mary of Mt. Carmel Shrine Gardens. Although the weather could at best be described as miserable, no one seemed to mind. That is because parents, grandparents and siblings were there to honor the memories of those children who were lost.

Co-organizers Kim Anderson and Rogene Fischer were moved by those who turned out for the Walk to Remember under such inclement weather conditions.

“We always have such a wonderful turnout, as this is such an amazing way for families to remember the babies they lost,” said Anderson.

Fr. John McCracken was one of the two speakers at the event and he captured the true spirit of what it means to those who lost children in his remarks. It centered around the theme that “no foot is too small to leave an imprint on this world.”

“We are the only creature that God created who has the ability to remember,” he said. “There is something very important about remembering because it brings to the present that which happened in the past. This morning as you and I remember the little ones, your loved ones, your babies, your children, they are with us right now.”

Fr. McCracken said when he was ordained, his pastor shared with him a message he has often referred to during his many years of being a priest. It is a message for those who have lost a loved one.

“He said a person only dies when we forget them,” said McCracken. “I know that you have never forgotten your babies. They are always close to your heart, mind and in your prayers. So as people of faith, we gather to remember them this morning. As you and I gather to remember them, because they remember us. There is that connection forever in our lives on Earth and theirs in the Kingdom of Heaven.”

Also speaking was Hospice Director of Port Huron Bob Wyncoop who spoke about the difficult task of comforting someone who has lost a child.

“Grief is not a sickness and it is not a weakness,” he said. “There is only one way to get through grief and that is to grieve.”

Wyncoop said the portion of the program where the names were read of the children lost is so vital.

“Maybe we even didn’t get the chance to name them, but you still know your baby,” he said. “There is no magic therapy, scripture or prayer to fix the hurt.”

Music was also a big part of Walk to Remember. Wyncoop also provided the musical accompaniment for a moving song by his son Bennet during the ceremony.

Also providing special music was Onekama Consolidated Schools student Tucker Laws and Swedish foreign exchange student Clara Gallon who sang some some songs that really hit home. Their beautiful rendition of the song “Clouds” by Zach Sobiech who died from a rare cancer in 2013 at the age of 18 left tears in the eyes of a vast number of people at the walk.

Fischer said the loss of a baby is a subject matter that has touched home with almost everyone including the speakers on Saturday.

“Fr. John has had family members who lost babies and Kim’s family has lost them as well,” she said. “It’s touches so many people.”

Anderson said it impacts families from all walks of life.

“Losing a child is something that crosses economic and racial divides,” she said. “It something everyone can relate to in some way.”

One of the most moving parts of the Walk to Remember is the releasing of the balloons. Rachel Wyncoop read off the names of the children a balloon bearing their name was released in their memory by parents, siblings and grandparents.


Posted by Ken Grabowski

Ken is News Advocate’s education reporter. He coordinates coverage for all Manistee County schools and West Shore Community College. He can be reached by phone at (231) 398-3125 or by email at kgrabowski@pioneergroup.com.

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