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‘Celebration of Life’ comforts grieving parents

 

Billy and Jessie Spain talk to their daughter, Amy, frequently and visit her almost daily with orchids in hand. They never imagined that her life would end when she was 30 years old and they would be visiting her gravesite.

On June 30, 1995, tragedy struck as the young attorney and her fiancé, David Dirmeyer, were driving from Memphis to Jackson, Tenn., to pick up a new car that she had purchased and to visit her parents. Driving in the rain, when Dirmeyer pressed the brake pedal, the car hydroplaned and hit an oncoming truck. He survived the crash; she died instantly.

For the past 17 years, the Spains have lit a candle for Amy during the "Celebration of Life" remembrance service they started at their home church, Northside United Methodist Church in Jackson. Its purpose is to "keep the children from being forgotten as we call their names during the service," said Jessie Spain. More than 250 grieving parents from the church and surrounding area attended the 2012 service on Sept. 23. Candles were lit, and an organ chime followed the calling of each of the 98 names.

Parents and loved ones also share testimonies during the service. The Rev. Don Thrasher, Northside's senior pastor, speaks to the families of God's hope and comfort. A litany and music complete the service.

Billy and Jessie Spain gathered for a family photo with their children, Jeff and Amy. The photo was taken shortly before Amy's tragic death in June 1995.
Billy and Jessie Spain gathered for a family photo with their children, Jeff and Amy. The photo was taken shortly before Amy's tragic death in June 1995.
COURTESY BILLY AND JESSIE SPAIN

Billy Spain said it is comforting to talk to other parents who know and understand the pain of losing a child. "Our children were our life," said Jessie Spain. Their son, Jeff, was very close to his sister.

Detailed information about starting a Celebration of Life remembrance service is available by contacting the Spains at (731) 225-4945 or bgspain@aeneas.net.

Christine Kumar is a freelance writer based in Silver Spring, Md.

AT A GLANCE Northside United Methodist Church | 2571 N. Highland Ave., Jackson, TN 38305 | (731) 668-0617 | publisher@northsidemethodist.org | www.northsidemethodist.org | Senior Pastor: Rev. Don Thrasher | Average Attendance: 736| Memphis Conference