One year ago on Tuesday, a single story dominated our headlines.
Buck Garner, 20, was murdered in Ammon in the early morning hours of a day meant to be filled with joy.
By the end of Christmas Day 2011, a suspect was arrested and charged with the murder.
The following year was filled with stories about court appearances and testimony.
But on Sunday night — the one year anniversary of his death — Garner’s family and friends gathered together at Ammon Cemetery.
They weren’t there to remember the way he died, but to celebrate his spirit, still living, and still watching over them.
“There is life after death,” said Garner’s aunt, LeeAnn Sensenbach as she prayed with Garner’s family and friends on Sunday. “He’s here for all of us.”
On Sunday, Sensenbach, Garner’s mother Lisa and about a dozen of Garner’s friends gathered to remember his spirit.
“Thank you everyone for coming,” said Lisa. “Today is one year since Buck passed.”
For Lisa Garner, the last year has been a battle between death and the spirit.
On Christmas, the spirit wins.
“Buck is happy and in a happy place,” said Sensenbach. “He wants us to be happy.”
Amidst the snow, and beneath the sun on Christmas, the spirit of a man who will always be Lisa’s little boy, is remembered.
“We love you, Buck,” she said.
Garner’s spirit lives on in a lot of ways, Lisa said. She feels it in something as simple as his favorite song.
She also feels it in the moments she said he reaches out to her in spirit. She said he spoke to her after the shooting in Connecticut.
“Buck came to me when those children passed and said that they were very happy,” she said.
On this Christmas, the Garner family offers a prayer for peace.
“We thank thee once again for all that we have for this Christmas day,” prayed Sensenbach.
Friends, and family; together to mourn, but together still.
It’s the way Lisa said Buck wanted Christmas to look, surrounded by a circle of love.
The family gathered at a marker where they hope to place a memorial headstone for Garner.