Erika Scoby stood in the children’s section of Mount Allen Cemetery on Monday evening, a bouquet of pinwheels in hand, each one honoring a child who has died.
Her husband, Luke, a firefighter, had to miss the evening of remembrance, hosted each year by Healing Hearts, a Hays-based support group for parents and family who have lost a child.
"I saw him drive by in a fire truck," Scoby said, nodding toward Main and 27th streets.
Erika and her 7-year-old daughter, Layla, were there for the Scoby’s 13-month-old son Bentley, who died this same month in 2017.
For each of the nearly 60 pinwheels, Neal Younger, Munjor, was hammering a metal stake into the dry ground for a pilot hole.
Before handing off a pinwheel to him, Younger’s wife, Carolyn, read out its tag to the small group gathered on the mild spring evening. "In loving memory of Cody," she said, naming the Younger’s 16-year-old son who died in a 2009 car wreck.
Jennifer Massey was there for her son, Daniel.
"My son is buried over here," she pointed. Daniel was stillborn in 2008. Linda Basgall, Daniel’s grandma, was there too.
"We do this every year before Memorial Day," said Basgall.
Called the Avenue of Pinwheels, the ceremony is always followed by a balloon launch.
"Then we usually have a get-together afterward, but with the corona we’re not doing it this year," Basgall said. "This is one of our more favorite events."
Healing Hearts normally meets the second Thursday of each month at The Hadley Center, 205 E. 7th.
"But now we’ve been meeting on Zoom," Basgall explained, noting fewer families were able to attend this year due to their social distancing efforts.
More names were read as each pinwheel was set in the ground, a gentle breeze spinning their tops.
Brixton Zimmerman was premature when he died more than five years ago, said his mother, Tiffany Zimmerman, Hays, who was there with her husband, Thomas Zimmerman, and their 3-year-old son, Maximus.
Cori Isbell, Hays, was there for her 15-year-old sister, Calista, who died two years ago.
"Suicide," said her mother, Jeanne Isbell.
"There’s a pinwheel for each one," said Basgall.
To reach Healing Hearts, call Ann Leiker at 785-625-6078.