Miracle in the Sky and Around us

It’s hard to believe that 20 years have passed since our first commemoration of Children’s Memorial Day. Then President Clinton had just declared the second-Sunday in December as the memorial and we had a recent loss in our church community, young Cathia Hamparian.
That first Children’s Memorial was an opportunity for us to come together to remember dear Cathia and to stand in solidarity with the Hamparian family as they faced their loss. Tragically, through the years others have joined the list of the children we mourn. Each year, the slow and uncertain footsteps of the grieving parents would approach us. They’d share a name and perhaps a picture with us. Our list has grown to 150 children over these last 20 years. To each of those parents we’ve made a promise that we would keep their child’s name alive through the years. With candles, pictures and stories we keep those names close at heart.


And so we gathered on December 10 – the second Sunday in December – at the St. Leon Armenian Cathedral in Burbank to offer our prayers, to light our candles and to seek solace. This was our 20th year. With the blessing of His Eminence Archbishop Hovnan Derderian, Primate, we gathered, prayed, sang, told stories of our children, hugged and shared the horrible pain of the these tragic losses.
Miracles happen in unusual and unexpected ways. Perhaps no one knows this better than I do. This year we had several. One came a half-an-hour before the service when one of the mothers gave me a call. She comes every year and stands in solidarity and unity with us but never talks publically. The pain is too great, even after over a decade of being with us. But this year was going to be different. Cathia’s mother, Maria organizes these annual gatherings and stays in touch with the various families. Maria told me just a few days earlier that this woman was ready to talk! She was looking forward to coming this year and sharing her story as she remembered her dear son. With that anticipation I answered the call. Sadly, it wasn’t going to happen this year either. She was unable to come but she sent her greetings to the new families and her love and appreciation to those families returning to the service. She asked me to tell everyone that she would be there next year. Miracle.
Is that the miracle? My choice of words are intentional. When you consider the pain and suffering these families have experienced over the greatest loss of their lives, you can only then appreciate the word in context. Two other miracles took place last night when two first-time families came and found love, warmth and the caring embrace of fellow journeyers. They talked, cried and in solitude below the blanket of stars above us. It was a night of solace.


Christmas and the holiday season is one of the hardest times for families who have lost a child. While others are celebrating, their empty arms are reminders of the gift of life taken away. The Children’s Memorial Service is a subtle reminder that they are not alone and a reminder to us all that love is our grasp. Reach out to the hurting world.

Picture: At the end of the service, candles were placed around the small angel which sat quietly throughout the service. 

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