Nearly a decade after the first Christmas Box Angel ceremony at Marco Island cemetery, donations were gathered for the very first time, during last Thursday’s service.
The site, developed as a memorial for grieving parents to remember a lost child, is maintained by Marco Community Church.
This year, the area surrounding the bronze, four-foot, three-inch angel statue was completely renovated. Roger Moll, a father who lost his daughter some eleven years ago, helped raise $250 in donations through sales of his newly published book, “Sleepless Nights, The First Ten Years.”
Moll says the private journal entries, which are now open for public read, began as a way for him to deal with the pain of losing his precious daughter, Kendall. The writings allowed him to record and reflect on happy memories, while creeping forward in a slow attempt to live again.
“We had a good family friend who was the pastor at the Methodist Church who knew me and said, ‘You’re not going to talk about your feelings, so you better write them down.’ At least every couple weeks I’d write. Whenever I heard a song or a saying or something that brought a memory to me, I’d write. That’s the ‘sleepless nights’ part of it. It’s just waking up at two or three in the morning and not going back to sleep and just getting up and writing,” Moll explained.
The journal entries began a few months after Kendall’s passing. Years later, as Moll would continue to read excerpts from his thoughts recorded during the Christmas Box Angel service on Dec. 6 of each year, friends would encourage him to get his writings published.
“At the angel ceremony, people just came up to me and said, ‘You should publish this.’ That was three or four years ago. I don’t do anything quick,” Moll added with a laugh. “A therapist said, ‘You need to do it.’ So we did it. The printed book came back from the printer in October.”
All of Moll’s entries were included in the book, which is now on sale for $12.95 at Sunshine Booksellers, St. Mark’s Episcopal Church and Amazon.com.
The purpose of the book is to help everyone who reads it realize what’s truly important in life. According to Moll, the only people who should not read the book are people that have lost a child recently.
“The first six months are the hardest. You don’t know how to handle the world or your life. The beginning (of the book) is what I went through and it wasn’t fun. After six months, you can concentrate long enough to finish the whole book, so a reader will get more out of it then. If they read it too early, they might not finish it and then they won’t see that there’s hope at the end of the tunnel. And that’s the most important thing,” advised Moll.
When someone is experiencing grief, Moll’s writings will hopefully help guide them toward a sense of peace. For people who have not lost a child, the book will likely bring a reader to realize that life should never be taken for granted because you never know how long it will last.
“I was an airline pilot when Kendall was growing up and I left for a trip the night before she passed away. I was not with her when she died. I still regret that to this day,” said Moll. “That’s part of my metamorphosis, being too serious. This is what I’ve learned: You need to have fun. Every day there are serious moments, but it’s better to be relaxed and enjoy life. Don’t make the same mistakes I have.”
When experiencing loss, men may have a tough time expressing feelings. Moll recommends therapy through writing. Taking those recorded thoughts to a therapist may also help spark a difficult, but necessary conversation regarding thoughts and feelings. When Moll signs every book, he writes the words, “peace through remembering.”
“If you search for a book of this kind, written by a father who’s gone through it, there aren’t any. There are many by mothers but not many men have pursued this. Maybe men should think about this more,” Moll suggested. “And crying is okay too. Find someone other than your wife to talk to. Even if you’re close, it’s hard to talk to your wife about your feelings. Just find someone else who is going through the same process.”
Moll’s next book, “Sleepless Nights, Life Goes On,” is currently in development. It will be the same style book with a different feel to it, as Moll reaches new horizons along his path to recovery.