By MICHAEL KITCH, LACONIA DAILY SUN
LACONIA — Just a few feet from where her life was taken, stands a granite post, topped with a plaque bearing her picture, her birth and death dates, and angel's wings above an inscription — "It's Always Sunny Above the Clouds" — ensuring that Lilyanna Amara Johnson will never be forgotten by her family, her friends and her community.
Yesterday, three years to the day, Lilyanna, then just 14, was struck by a car at the foot of the Messer Street Bridge, and a crowd of all ages, with teenagers its largest component, gathered at the scene to dedicate the memorial. People mingled and hugged. Some placed flowers. Others tied balloons. All shared memories of Lilyanna. There were no speeches and many more smiles than tears, which one woman remarked is how Lilyanna would have liked it.
The memorial is the work of Susan Fleming, Lilyanna's grandmother, who said "It is for the community and for my daughter, Bethany. She is my only daughter," she continued, "and I can't imagine what I would do without her."
She said that Bethany "struggled with the loss of Lilyanna and got beyond it, and I wanted something personal for her. She can come here and feel good," she said. "This is where her happiness ended, but now it is a positive place."
Lilyanna's close friend Allyssa Miner, who was alongside her and severely injured when the car hit them both, stood near the very spot.
"It's hard, but..." she said.
Classmates at Woodlands Heights Elementary School, Allyssa chose Lilyanna as her hero. She has overcome her injuries to play three sports at Laconia High School, but Fleming said wrestles with Lilyanna's passing.
"I tell her," Fleming said, "I never wanted you to go with Lily. I wanted Lily to go with you."
Kyle Chiasson, who was close to Lilyanna throughout her life, described her as "an amazing person" and "the kindest person you could ever hope to meet." He said that he took her loss "very hard" and was pleased she would be remembered by a memorial.
A classmate and close friend Ciara LaGarde was also shaken when a friend told her Lilyanna was gone, but said "It teaches you a lot, to cherish every moment. You don't ever believe it could happen to you or to your friends."
The memorial, she said,is a reminder of "the value of friendship and the value of life."
Looking over the crowd, Fleming remarked "Lily had a boatload of friends. She was an angel here and there. That's our Lily."
- Category: Local News
- Hits: 619