khaila's float15-year-old Khighla Parks died mysteriously this fall. She went missing in September and her body was found in a lake in Missouri ten days later. Police are calling her death a homicide and are still investigating. But her friends and family aren't dwelling on that right now. Not during the holidays, anyway.

Instead, her community has come together to celebrate her life in the most joyful way: They've created a parade float in Khighla Parks' honor. Khilgla had wanted to be in the Downtown Springfield Christmas Parade before her death. In a way she will be, thanks to the extraordinary efforts of her friends and family.

30 people who loved Khighla marched in her honor with the adorable 19th-century "general store" they built, complete with lace curtains and a smoking chimney. And this detail nearly breaks my heart -- they set Khighla's boots on the back doorstep. The marchers gave out butterscotch candies, a favorite treat of her horse, Cheyenne.

Oh my goodness, what a beautiful way to remember this teenage girl. All of this effort, all of those people, coming together to make something beautiful in her honor. Khighla must have been one very loved girl. I wish every teen to died too young could be honored this beautifully. It's a credit to her family and friends that they are remembering her this way. This holiday season must be excruciating, especially for her parents. But to pull away from the sadness and take time to remember Khighla's spirit -- well, that's the kind of transcendence we long for during the holiday season, isn't it?

Have you ever seen a community join together for a teen's memorial like this?

 

Image via News-Leader.com