The Cassandra Beth Montemurro Memorial


 Second Annual
Candle Lighting

Sun., December 13, 1998

Candles will be lighted at 7 p.m. in every time zone in memory of all children who have died, producing a wave of light that will encircle the earth. As candles burn down in one time zone, it becomes 7 p.m. in another, creating a virtual 24-hour memorial.

"That Their Light May Always Shine"
(reprinted from "We Need Not Walk Alone" - TCF National Newsletter, Spring, 1998)
by Diana Cunningham, Executive Director

Someone had an idea - "let's light a candle at the same time to honor our children" and someone else said "let's designate a specific time so TCF (The Compassionate Friends) families across the country can participate." And then another someone said "we can announce the candlelighting on the TCF web site!" and yet another someone said "we'll ask our chapter to sponsor mailing this announcement to all TCF chapters in the US." It was that simple. And a truly amazing event took place thanks to just a few people in different corners of this country with an uncomplicated idea. Thanks to the TCF web page and the Tucson chapter for the nationwide mailing, that uncomplicated idea of just lighting a candle this past December 14 at 7pm to honor all children who died made an impact on families around the world!

Once the word got out, the national office began receiving calls and e-mails from people all around the world expressing appreciation for this very simple event and telling us that they hoped it was "OK" that they had told their families, friends and local newspapers of our day of remembrance. Then we got word that Growth House would donate an additional four hours for a special "chat room" on December 14 that would coincide with the 7pm candle lighting across the country.

From about mid-morning December 14th, e-mails and faxes began to pour into the national office, beginning with an e-mail from New Zealand. It was still early morning here, but 7pm in New Zealand and they let us know that they had just lit their candles.

I planned my day of errands, shopping and checking the faxes in the office carefully so that I would be home in time to light my special candle at 7pm. Shortly before 7:00 I turned on my computer and entered the special TCF Chat Room. What an amazing experience! There were dozens of people there...parents, siblings, grandparents, friends of bereaved families...many thanked TCF for the beautiful way to remember their children. Total strangers were wishing one another peace, cheering some on, offering support and suggestions to others. Others who were experiencing their first holiday without their child were crying out in anguish and asking. . . no, begging for help and answers. And, just as it is at a TCF meeting, the understanding, patience, and love that was extended to one another was sincere and heartfelt.

I kept my eye on the clock as I read the many messages. At precisely 7pm I lit my candles. At that exact moment an Instant Message appeared on my computer screen which read: "it is only 5pm here (in California) but it's 7pm there. . . just wanted you to know that we are lighting candles, to, with you so you don't have to light yours alone." And then an instant later, the telephone rang. The caller was another TCF friend who happened to be in the same time zone as I and let me know she was lighting her candle as we spoke. People continued to sign on in the Chat Room, messages continued to appear in both my personal and national office e-mail boxes, and the phone continued to ring!

One message simply said "Candles are lit in New York City" while later a message from Los Angeles said "the City of Angels is glowing with the light of our love for our our children." And so it continued. Each time I heard the Ping! sound on my computer (indicating another new message) I got goosebumps! I was completely overwhelmed with the number of people who participated in this very simple yet meaningful event of just lighting a candle!
As the pinging! continued I could envision candles and light encircling the world and at the same time a thread weaving from one point to another as each person from different parts of the country signed on. The thread wove itself east, west, south and north and crisscrossed back and forth several times, creating a tightly woven and most incredible tapestry. The design in this tapestry radiates love. . . not just for our sons, daughters, sisters, brothers, and grandchildren. . . but for one another, as well.

It's been more than two months since that very simple idea by someone took place. We are still getting notes and messages in the national office from people "out there" who were so deeply touched by the event. And you know I've thought about what my friend in California said when he sent the Instant Message that night: "we are lighting our candle now too, so that you don't have to light yours alone." The message of our credo was never more evident than that night. . .

We need not walk alone; we are The Compassionate Friends!


Read about the 1997 Candle Lighting

Read the Senate Resolution designating December 13, 1998
as National Children's Memorial Day

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