Framingham memorial honors each life lost to COVID-19 in the city

FRAMINGHAM, Mass. — On the Framingham Centre Common, 232 blue flags representing each life lost to COVID-19 in the city form a pathway for loved ones to walk.

The memorial set up by Open Spirit: A Place of Hope, Health & Harmony allowed many to honor their lost family members and friends at a time when large funerals and memorial services have not been possible.

Rev. Dr. Deborah Clark, pastor of Edwards Church and Interfaith Coordinator for Open Spirit, helped organize the touching tribute ahead of the first anniversary this week of the first COVID-related death in the city.

The community was invited to gather on the common, light a candle, write a lost loved one’s name on a flag and walk the pathway.

“Once [the flags] were all up, we thought, ‘Oh, my goodness. Each of these flags is a person, a human being in our city.’ It’s a really powerful expression,” Clark said. “Walking this is a part of a much longer journey of community healing that is really needed.”

Leah Sawin of Medway, whose mother – a lifelong Framingham resident – died of COVID-19 last May, leaned on her husband, Steve, as she wrote her mother’s name, Mary Louise Wamboldt, on a flag and placed it in the ground among the others.

“I love her very much, and I miss her terribly,” she said of her 95-year-old mother. “She was full of spunk… Even though she was older, you had more memories with her.”

The interactive memorial, set up on March 14, will remain on the common through March 27.

“It was very sad,” Leah Sawin said of walking the flag-lined pathway. “But I’m so glad that someone put this all together. It was a really great idea.”

“It gives you a little bit of a direct connection [with her], which was nice,” her husband Steve added.

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