Harmony Grace Wallace was born to Christa McNeil and Bobby Wallace Jr., a young couple who live in Pageland, South Carolina, on Sunday, Nov. 7.
Pageland is a small town about an hour’s drive southeast of Charlotte. Its claim to fame is being the watermelon capital of the world. They hold a festival every summer.
Christa and Bobby have one daughter, eight-year-old MaKenzie. Bobby lost his job about a month ago and things have been tight. Christa says she keeps busy running errands for their grandparents and looking after nieces and nephews, as well as her own daughter.
In 2018, Christa had surgery for cervical cancer and was told it would be difficult to have children again without a special procedure to prevent her cervix from opening.
She got pregnant again this year, and started to have problems.
“I kept telling my doctors and the hospital … that I needed to have (the procedure) done,” she said in a phone interview Tuesday. “And then I went to the hospital that last time and it was too late. There was nothing they could do.”
Harmony came into the world an “angel.” She was stillborn.
One evening shortly afterward, family members held a private candlelight memorial. They each wrote tributes to Harmony on balloons and released them into the warm southern sky.
Christa keeps a memory wall in her home to remind them of their angel.
Saturday, Nov. 20, was a nice day in Placentia, on Newfoundland’s Avalon Peninsula.
Residents Peter Power and Jenny Best-Power decided to do what many in the area do when the weather co-operates — take a short drive down the Cape Shore to scenic Gooseberry Cove.
“We just went out there for a little drive the other evening, and I see this thing in the bushes there,” Peter said in a phone interview Tuesday. “It looked like it had writing on it, so I looked at it and I got it. It was actually pretty neat writing.”
He and Jenny inspected the balloon. It had “Harmony Grace Wallace” written in large letters. On the other side: “Born an angel on Nov. 7, 2021 at 7:31 p.m.” and “Too precious for this world.”
“I figure it probably came across from the Burin Peninsula,” Peter said.
When they got home, Jenny Googled the name, expecting they might see a local obituary. To their amazement, they came across the obituary in Pageland, more than 2,600 kilometres away.
“I’m still in shock over it, you know. It’s still pretty overwhelming that it came all this way,” Jenny said.
She posted their find on Facebook and also sent a message to the funeral home and the town hall.
The latter message got the desired result.
An employee with the town knew Christa’s mother. She passed on the news, and before long, the two couples were communicating by email.
“I didn’t really believe it at first, but then they sent the pictures and it was my handwriting on the balloon. It was my balloon,” Christa said on first finding out about the discovery. “I was shocked it went that far and was still blown up. It’s still unreal.”
She had never heard of Newfoundland before.
“It’s over thousand miles away from here,” she said.
But Christa believes there’s a celestial reason her balloon endured. When family members lit candles during their memorial, she said, hers was the only one that stayed lit.
And it’s no small coincidence the balloon lodged in a rose bush along the beach road to Gooseberry Cove. Roses are her favourite flower. She and Bobby both have rose tattoos.
“For her to land in a rose bush is just incredible,” she said. “I know she was sending a message to us by doing that.”
The two couples now share a special bond over Harmony.
“They’re happy that their child brought us into their life, and we’re bringing it out to the world,” Peter said.
“It brought a lot of peace, knowing that she’s still with us. It means a lot, and now other people are going to know about her,” Christa said.
“Harmony picked them for a reason.”
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Christa McNeil wrote this poem in memory of her daughter:
HARMONY GRACE WALLACE
For our precious little Angel, who we can no longer hold in our arms, but will forever hold in our hearts:
We never got to see you smile or even hear you giggle or cry;
You were taken from us way too soon, and we may never understand why;
But God makes no mistakes, this much we know is true;
So when He saw your precious face, He made greater plans for you;
You were too precious for this world, so he gave you wings to fly;
Then took you to live with Angels in his mansion in the sky;
May joy fill your heart, and the sun always shine upon your face;
Until the day we meet again, know that we love you Harmony Grace!
Peter Jackson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Telegram