This article was in my local newspaper. This being such a small town I was absolutely beside myself to see something on the front page no less! Please read and enjoy. I know you will. *Bless her heart*
By Noreen Hyslop
An Essex native, currently residing in Poplar Bluff, recently learned all about angels on earth. Elizabeth Sagharichi, formerly Elizabeth Black, has an angel of her own named Roya. Roya was stillborn six years ago. In a family of four boys, Roya would have been the only sister of the group.
The loss of their daughter at 20 weeks cessation came as a devastating blow to Elizabeth and her husband, Mahmoud, one for which Elizabeth says there seemed to be no closure. "At 20 weeks, the baby was not saved to have a burial. We never got to hold her. I felt that a part of me died with her and it was very difficult to grasp when we had nothing tangible to hold on to."
An autopsy was performed on baby Roya, and a letter containing its findings was mailed to the Sagharichis some time following their loss. So devastated were they that they left the envelope sealed until after the birth of their next son two years later.
"That's when we realized we had a daughter," Elizabeth explains. "That doesn't, of course, make us love our boys any less. It just hurts a little worse to know we lost our only girl. I would never have believed it was possible to miss someone so much who you never really go to know, but it is."
A couple of years after their loss, the Sagharichi couple became acquainted with an organization called SHARE. Affiliated with the March of Dimes organization, SHARE holds annual campaigns, much like Relay for Life and the MS Walk held locally, but with a totally new concept at the heart of their efforts.
The group encourages parents of lost children to participate in activities that help to understand and to accept their loss, at the same time allowing them to share their experiences and feelings with others who have similar circumstances. For the Sagharichi family, the group has been "a God-send."
"My husband is a runner," says Elizabeth, "and the group holds a 5K run each August, so it provides him an added opportunity to get involved. I take part in the walk that is also part of the event."
Another event,, and the one that led to this story, is the annual release of balloons at the SHARE event. Each balloon holds a small card with the name of a child who left its parents much too soon. The card also depicts the name of a sponsoring agency that helps to make the event possible.
On a hot August day in 2009, a white balloon was release with a brief message of its intent. The balloon carried the name of Roya skyward, and with that sending Elizabeth Sagharichi was content in knowing that the spirit of her daughter had been lifted up. She couldn't have imagined the response that sending would generate a short time later.
A resident in the state of Mississippi, finding the deflated balloon and its message, tracked down the sender by notifying the sponsor listed on the card. Southern Missouri Bank at Poplar Bluff then forwarded the response to the Sagharichi family. The letter would restore her faith that Roya was indeed, in good hands and that miracles do happen. The letter read:
"Dear Sagharichi family,
My name is Peter Nichol. I am writing to you from my 50-acre farm located in rural Benton County, Mississippi, a lush, peaceful, rolling parcel of land very rich in history. Part of that history includes a small family cemetery dating back to the 1800's located on a secluded wooded bluff overlooking a wet weather creek. The site was overgrown and essentially lost to the wilderness when I purchased the land seven years ago, but I have recovered the area and attempt to maintain it with the dignity it deserves.
This morning was cloudy and warm with the threat of rain on the horizon. I took the opportunity to mow the grass and do some general cleaning around the cemetery. As I did this, I contemplated the sadness that must have once weighed heavily here. There are a number of very young children buried at this site. Yellow fever, I believe, was taking a heavy toll at that point in history. Shortly after finishing my work, I noticed a small card and ribbon resting in the grass not far from the cemetery fence. It was the note that been tethered to a balloon and released in memory of your daughter, Roya. I was very touched by the symbolism of this find and am truly saddened by your loss. If part of Roya's spirit traveled so far and so high to find this place, she surely was a brave little girl. I know that the gentle breezes that brought her here at one time carried the joyful voices of these small children that now rest in silence, and this soil contains the tears of those who mourned the passing, I want you to know that your child's spirit and memory are safe, cherished and among friends on this small part of God's green earth.
Peter A. Nichol"
And so the Sagharichi family considers themselves blessed, in so many ways.