On Sunday night there was a candle lighting ceremony and balloon release, and there were about 800 present. Only the family released balloons; green balloons that said, "I love you" on them. All 800+ of them formed a huge circle, and the family and her two friends that were there when she was killed formed a smaller circle in the middle. There was complete silence until the candles were all lit, and then the only sound was that of her mother sobbing. It was heartbreaking. No mother should have to endure the pain of losing a child. I've said before that my specialty of choice for medicine is pediatric oncology, and it is the young teenagers losing their battle that bother me the most. They know what life is, and they know what they have to look forward to, and to lose their life in the midst of those happy years is so heartbreaking to me. It's something I'll have to learn to come to grips with, I know.
Cierra's funeral was yesterday. It was an open casket viewing, and seeing her lifeless body laying there was so difficult. She wore her cheerleading uniform. Her mother, stepfather, and young (8 year old) sister sat there in front of her (her father died a few years ago). Her sister, Hayley, continually going up to say good-bye to her sister just one more time. She lost her only sibling.
There were over 1,000 people in attendance at the viewing and funeral service, a testament to the number of hearts she touched in her short 15 years. The procession to the cemetery was private, but we'll go this weekend and leave flowers for her.
As a parent, and as someone who knew Cierra, this hurts. I can only imagine the pain that her mother, stepfather and sister must be experiencing. I hurt for them. I know that time heals pain, but her imagine is permanently ingrained in my mind. Sean is handling the loss of one of his very best friends in a way of his own. It's apparent that he's terribly upset, but it's difficult for him to verbalize much of what he wants to say. He's going back to his therapist starting next week, and that should help him. I want to help him more, but I just make him more upset by talking about her to him. I hurt for him. His circle of friends is small, and to lose one of the people that means so much to him is hard to watch.
Kaitlinn, AJ, Sean and Erin before the funeral.