On Sunday, September 29, 2013, the community took a step forward in their grieving process by dedicating a prayer garden to the victims at Cable Community Church in Sherrard, Illinois.
All five of the victim’s names were read, followed by a ringing of a bell and a moment of silence.
“I know that right now, she’s looking down saying, ‘I’m okay and you guys are gonna be alright too,” said Rebecca Heick about her longtime friend, Anna Viager, who was killed in the fire.
“Little Breana, was full of hugs she would come up and grab you at the knee, and give you a hug,” said Pastor Clint Ziemer about Breana Viager, Anna Viager’s daughter who was also killed in the fire.
Also killed in the fire were Cassandra Turner and sisters Holli Harker and Jessica Harker.
“None of us will ever understand the why,” said Heick.
“You cannot replace any of them, really,” said Ziemer, “When it first happened, the emotions were tangible, you could literally feel them,” he added.
The emotions are not gone; they are still visible with each hug, each wipe of a tear.
“I think it’s um, I think it stirs up some of the things that we’ve all felt over the last six months,” said Heick.
Now, at Cable Community Church is a place, a garden, anyone can go to reflect on memories, the lives lost.
“There are just so many good things and I think that that’s what all of us you know look at this and we think this is a place to come back and hold on to those really good things,” said Heick.
“Sometimes you just need somewhere to go with your grief or with your thoughts,” said Ziemer.
In the garden, in the back of the church, are seven plants, so the victims will be remembered every day. Two benches are on either side so that from morning to evening they are thought of. And there is a plaque with the names of Anna Viager, Breana Viager, Holli Harker, Jessica Harker, and Cassi Turner.
“Today was, I think for a lot of us a very necessary step, but it is kind of like re-breaking that bone in the hope that it’s going to heal well this time,” said Heick.
While those at the ceremony may never fully heal, they now have a place to remember.