An estimated 150 people, many holding candles, tried to bring a flicker of meaning to a dark, chill, wet playground at Peirce School on Tuesday, Nov. 26, for three lives gone too soon.
Family and friends spoke.
A guitarist played.
An appeal to better understand domestic violence rang out.
And prayers were offered. All were for Mei Jones, 43, and her twin sons Colt and Cameron, who would have turned 1 that day.
They died Nov. 18, apparently at the hand of a husband and father, Scott, though an official determination has not been made public.
A neighbor helping neighbors
Newland Road neighbor Sarah Schwartz looked for a way to heal, and many answered the call for a vigil. Aid for the community's pain came through words and music.
As residents joined public officials Sean Garballey, Joe Curro and Dave Rogers, the loudspeaker delivered Eric Clapton's "Tears in Heaven" and "Let Them Be Little" by country singer Billy Dean.
Mike Zonghetti, a minister who is a family friend, said: "There was supposed to be one candle [each for the children], not all these."
As difficult as death is, he said, love would see the family through this trying time.
At Thanksgiving, he said to all, offer a prayer to Mei's family and "look around at all those gathered [wherever you celebrate the day] and thank God for their presence."
Ben Li of Malden, Mei's brother, spoke of his "amazing sister," who was "always family first .... I want this evening to be a happy moment."
That was hard to achieve, but those gathered tried. Guitarist Matt Fulton of Belmont, who is Mei's former husband, encouraged them by singing and playing "Imagine." The hopeful tune by John Lennon recalls the former Beatle's slaying in 1981.
From a tablet computer, an old friend of Mei's, Tina, read her remembrances, of summer-vacation visits to Boston. Although often far away, "she was such a loyal friend .... It is very hard to say goodbye." Her words, expressed with a British accent, broke up a bit.
Domestic violence addressed
Laura Van Zandt, executive director of Reach Beyond Domestic Violence, in Waltham, gave nods to Marian Ryan, the Middlesex district attorney, who was in the audience, as well as members of First Step, the Arlington group that counsels victims of violence whose members were handing out brochures.
"Domestic violence happens here, in nice places, to nice people," she said.
How can we address the issue? "Listen without judgment to a family member who is having trouble," she said. If need be, follow up by taking advantage of local resources. "Arlington has many resources," she said.
After Town Manager Adam Chapdelaine expressed his sympathy and said, "Arlington is not defined by this tragedy," Fulton returned with songs that spanned the pain of decades, Pink Floyd's "Wish You Were Here" (1975) and the Drifter's "Stand by Me" (1961).
Floodlights, provided by emergency services, dimmed, and a mass of candles dotted the night.
A minister read a modern version of the 23rd Psalm and ended the 50-minute vigil just a block and a half from 45 Newland St. by leading the congregation in "The Lord's Prayer."
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Globe, Nov. 26: Funeral held for 3
Nov. 22: Arlington says thanks
Nov. 20: Tribute at 45 Newland
This story was published Thursday, Nov. 21, 2013, and updated Nov. 27.