MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - A candlelight vigil was held Tuesday night at Oak Grove Missionary Baptist Church in Bartlett in honor of Ariel Marion, who fell from a cruise ship off the coast of Florida in September.
Her body was never recovered, so the vigil gave friends and family a chance to say goodbye.
The fate of Ariel Marion remains a mystery; nobody really knows what happened on that cruise ship- not family, not friends, not clergy.
What they do know is their loved one is never coming back. And without a chance to say goodbye personally, the vigil was needed for closure.
“I appreciate you all coming out and showing respect,” said Ariel’s brother, Aaron Marion, to the gathered crowd. “That really means a lot to me and my family.”
Oak Grove Baptist Church planned for 300 people at the vigil; they were on the mark. And none of them were prepared for what happened to their friend.
“I didn’t believe it, I was in shock,” said Gabby Occena, who went to school with Ariel. “We just gelled. She was really sweet. I actually saw her about a month ago and I hugged her really tight.”
Now, there are only memories.
“You would never forget her laugh,” Karisma Williams told abc24.com, “you would never forget her walking the hallways in school- you’d always remember Bri, the one with the crazy hair; it’s her.”
To everyone’s surprise, there were four people at the vigil who were on the cruise ship with Ariel.
“We don’t know what happened,” Allicia Cowan told abc24.com. “We weren’t nearby when she fell.”
“A mother is saying, what happened,” spoke Pastor Donald Johnson, “two brothers are saying, what happened?”
“I don’t know what happened,” said Cowan, “I can’t tell you that story.”
Those at the vigil were curious about the search for Ariel.
“Everything was kept under wraps,” Cowan said. “All we know is that they searched for her and didn’t find her; that was all the Captain told us.”
That left those at the candlelight vigil with nothing to do but remember.
“Just keep your heads up,” Aaron Marion told the crowd, “because she’s in a better place. She’s up there with the Lord.”
Ariel had just joined Oak Grove Baptist late in the summer. The pastors there described her as lively and had great plans to utilize her skills in their youth ministry.
Pastor Johnson said Ariel’s family was still hurt and bewildered by it all.