Memories can mean so much, especially when remembering the lives of cherished children who were lost to cancer.
That is why more than 200 friends and family members gathered on Nov. 8 at Cooper Auditorium for the eighth annual Pediatric Memorial Service, sponsored by the Division of Pediatrics and the Department of Spiritual Care.
Former City of Hope chaplain Pam Baird and youth director Beatriz Zaldana from Christian Church Adonai in Reseda delivered a service in English and Spanish, accompanied by music by Lauri D. Goldenhersh. Chaplain Cassie McCarty also spoke.
“Upon entering the auditorium, families and friends viewed a continuous visual screen of each remembered child, which was a moving tribute,” said Randi McAllister, Ph.D., pediatric psychologist. “The screen was very well-received.” Pediatric secretary Mitzi Morrison first designed the visual project in 2006.
Using a gardening theme, the service explored the mystery of life and death in the transformative process of seeds and plant life, McAllister said. Upon signing in, families received a potted rose, which they could take home after the service. They wrote the name of their loved one on the pot, and the pots were displayed in the auditorium during the service.
The theme continued through arts and crafts provided for siblings and other children at the service. “Children created colorful pots and planted seeds in them so they could take them home and watch them grow,” McAllister explained.
In addition, each family took home a custom-made memory book, a yearly tradition. Each family contributes a page they have created about their child, and pediatric staff put the books together. The cover of the book, designed for several years by Martha Messer from St. Nectarios Church in Covina, Calif., also reflected the gardening theme.
Pediatric staff members who assisted at the service included McAllister, Clarke Anderson, M.D., Sue Harden, M.D., Anne Turk, M.D., Ginger Minkler, R.N., Rebecca Bergstrom, C.C.L.S., secretaries Mitzi Morrison, Gina Howells and Lea Bancroft, and psychology interns Jeremy Senske and Ruth Nichols.
Philanthropia, a nonprofit outreach ministry of affiliated southern California Greek Orthodox churches, supported the memorial service.