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Light of hope, light of sorrow

Hospital ceremony honors those we’ve lost and new beginnings

News Photos by Steve Schulwitz Students in the eighth-grade choir from Thunder Bay Junior High School performed Christmas carols at the annual Love Light Trees Ceremony Thursday at MidMichigan Medical Center-Alpena. The event is held as a way to celebrate those who have died, and also those who are experiencing new beginnings.

ALPENA — The holiday season is a special time to remember and honor the people you love and soak in the memories of times spent with them.

At MidMichigan Medical Center-Alpena on Thursday, the annual Love Light Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony was held. Each light on the trees paid tribute to people who have passed away and others who are still alive and special to those who dedicated lights on the tree.

According to MidMichigan Health Foundation Fund Development Director Ann Diamond, the event has been a staple on the calendar at MidMichigan Health campuses for nearly 40 years. Thursday’s event was the third of its kind in Alpena.

She said the tribute is a way of saying thank you to supporters of the hospital and a way to honor those who are loved.

“It is a signature event for the foundation, and it has a very long tradition,” Diamond said. “We are honored and proud to be able to be a part of the tradition and bring it to Alpena. Not only will it make our campus more cheerful and festive for the holidays, but it will also honor those who aren’t with us any longer and some who still are, and just a time to slow down and reflect on the people we love and miss.”

The tree, which has blue and white lights, is located in the small, peaceful, green park are just outside the main lobby.

MidMichigan Medical Center-Alpena President Chuck Sherwin told attendees how staff at the hospital see both people who are going through struggles and those who are experiencing happiness.

He said Christmas is a time of being thankful, celebrating new beginnings, and joy.

“At the hospital, we try to move people from illness and injury to health and wellness,” he said. “We hear words of thanks when we remove people’s pain and for taking care of them when they know they couldn’t do it by themselves. We also get to hear words of celebration and new beginning, like when we hear the cries of a baby first being born and get high fives when a patient hears for the first time they are cancer-free.”

Sherwin said the hospital also sees loss, sadness and loneliness and always does its best to accommodate people in need and help then rebound. He said his own staff is suffering from some of those same emotions right now, after a pair of nurses, Michelle Idalski and Adam Dikeman, died recently.

“This is a time to remember, reflect and appreciate the love and support from those who are no longer here,” he said.

After Sherwin’s address, Pastor Paul Lance of First United Congregational Church of Christ of Alpena gave a brief sermon, which was followed by the eighth-grade choir from Thunder Bay Junior High School performing a montage of Christmas carols while holding faux candles before the Love Light Tree was lighted.

Steve Schulwitz can be reached at 989-358-5689 at sschulwitz@thealpenanews.com. Follow him on Twitter @ss_alpenanews.com.