I think it was 1998 or so when my oldest daughter Jami began volunteering at WaterFire with me. I had been volunteering for a few years and Jami wanted to join me in a beautiful mother-daughter activity. I loved the idea and we spent a few years working together on the wood boats. We loved being together on the water. We built the fires in the morning and then returned to light and feed them at night. It was a very happy experience for the two of us.
WaterFire was smaller then, but the crowds would still gather and we would get choked up with delight knowing that we were a part of such a wonderful artistic endeavor. . .
Jami died at the age of 24 in February 2001, due to multiple sclerosis complications. She had been losing her physical and mental abilities gradually while suffering since the age of 17. She was beautiful, artistic and graceful and she blended in so well with WaterFire. She loved to dance and sing and was so talented at both. She loved to mingle with all different types of people and loved listening to the eclectic blend of music which played at each WaterFire performance.
After Jami died, I had difficulty volunteering for a while at WaterFire because I remembered how much fun we had had together each time we worked on the river. Every time I looked into one of the beautiful fires I missed my Jami.
I took some time off, but I missed being a part of the experience. Then I realized my efforts as a volunteer kindling the flames was a perfect way to honor Jami and to remember her spirit and her energy. Now when I look into the beautiful flames dancing around, I see my sweet Jami dancing.
Her birthday was July 31st and this last weekend on this date, I chose to honor her memory. She always loved roses and every year on the day she died and on her birthday, I have thrown rose petals into the ocean because she so loved the water and flowers.
Last Saturday at WaterFire I scattered rose petals in the river around the braziers as we were building the fires. That evening, in the embrace of a crowd of tens of thousands, I and the other boat captains placed a single red rose into each of the burning braziers along the river in all the places where Jami loved to visit. The roses were in memory of her gentle beauty, of her love of music, and for a life that lasted too briefly.
I know she will be looking down at us and smiling.
– Fern Rouleau