LIHUE — This will be the first year Yvonne Pereira will celebrate Christmas without her mother.
“I just lost her in August,” she said. “For Christmas, she liked to have the family over, and especially liked being around her grandchildren and great-grandchildren.”
Pereira was one of about 200 people who attended a candle lighting memorial at Immaculate Conception Church Monday night.
“I knew it was going to be hard for her, knowing she’d never see her grandchildren again,” she said.
The purpose of the memorial was to give Kauai residents mourning the loss of a loved ones an outlet to express their grief and know they aren’t alone, said Caroline Miura, spiritual care coordinator for Kauai Hospice.
Kauai Hospice has been hosting the memorial for 25 years, Miura added.
“A lot of times, during the season, people aren’t feeling merry and bright and it’s hard for them to enter the New Year without their loved ones,” she said.
Four years ago, Kauai Hospice added two other memorial services — one in Hanapepe and one in Princeville — to make sure the whole island is covered, Miura said.
The Hanapepe service, which is held at Hawaiian Congregation Church, attracts about 100 people. About 75 people gather at the North Shore service, held at the Church of the Pacific, she said.
Janet Mayfield attended Monday’s ceremony to honor her daughter, Christy, who died on Christmas Eve in 2o13.
“She was 22-years-old. She was diagnosed with brain cancer before her 17th birthday,” Mayfield said.
Mayfield said she got a call from a hospital in Santiago, Chile, while Christy was studying abroad.
“She was in the hospital with severe headaches, but didn’t know what it was,” she said. “She was in the prime of her life and was ready to take on the world. She was one of the most kindest and fun-loving people you’ll ever meet.”
Christy never let her illness stop her, Mayfield added.
“She was never defined by her cancer and was always moving to the future. She finished high school and went to the University of Hawaii,” she said.”She kept her sense of humor and was the one to make everyone else laugh.”
During the final weeks of her life, Christy’s family and friends hosted a Christmas party in her bedroom.
“She loved Christmas and she loved the holidays. It was her favorite time of year,” Mayfield said.
Christy died in her bed at the age of 22.
Last year was the first Christmas without Christy. As a family, the Mayfield’s came together and listened to Christmas songs she recorded. This year, they are going to have a “Christy Christmas,” doing everything she liked to do during the holidays.
“I think of her every day. I cry often, especially during the holidays,” Mayfield said. ‘But I keep going because she kept going. I believe she’s with God and I talk to her everyday. I know she hears me.”
The ceremony ended with the reading of lost loved ones, and a candle was lit for every one of them. The names of Louis Abrams, Tim Bynum, Jon Togioka and Charles and Arlene Kawakami were among them.
Another memorial ceremony will take place in Hanapepe Dec. 8 at 6 p.m. at Hawaiian Congregation Church. The final ceremony will be on Dec. 12 at the Church of the Pacific. Both services start at 6 p.m.