A group of friends and family gathered in an East Moline cemetery Wednesday night to honor a teenager who died last year.
Christopher Bunch was an incoming freshman at Moline High School.
Bunch was 14 years old.
Dozens showed up to St. Mary’s cemetery to pay tribute to him.
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It’s been one year since Christopher played with his siblings or hugged his parents.
“He was the glue that held everybody together,” says Elijah Bunch, Christopher’s dad.
“He was a great big brother,” says Destiny Maynard, Christopher’s mom.
“He knew how to share love,” says Bunch.
It’s been a year since Christopher made his girlfriend laugh.
“I never thought I could cry every day for 365 days,” says Angela Cruz.
Christopher missed his first day of high school and his big brother’s last day.
“That was a big first that neither of them got to share,” Bunch says.
But the family says through missed birthdays and Christmas, something “beautiful” has emerged: Support.
Messages from around the world.
“Australia, Canada, Mexico, Italy, New Zealand,” Bunch says.
“Even though right now is the time that we feel the most alone in the whole world, that we’re not. We’re not alone,” Maynard says.
A fraction of that represented on the first anniversary of their son’s death.
“His body may not be here but his soul is with us every day. This just brings everybody that loved him unconditionally together again to celebrate his life. To celebrate him being here, not him leaving,” Maynard says.
And to get Christopher’s family here, his parents say, “took a village.”
“Just thank you,” Bunch says.
“You have no idea what it’s meant to us,” says Maynard.
“We’ll never be able to repay anything that anybody’s done besides saying thank you and we love you,” says Bunch.
“And you’re the reason why his legacy is being able to be told and remembered,” says Maynard.
“We couldn’t have made it this far without everybody,” Bunch says.