By Rikki King Herald Writer
LAKE STEVENS — The crosses, more than a thousand of them, represent grief, and they represent joy.
The grief is that Molly Conley is gone. The joy is that of her life and her memory, carried by her family and friends.
Conley was gunned down near Lake Stevens a year ago Sunday. Prosecutors say that Conley was the victim of a random drive-by shooting.
The freshman from Seattle’s Bishop Blanchet High School was celebrating her 15th birthday, walking with girlfriends.
On Friday afternoon, Conley’s loved ones gathered where she died, along S. Lake Stevens Road, overlooking Stitch Lake and Lake Stevens.
They wore safety vests and used mallets to pound hundreds of crosses into the narrow grassy strip along the shoulder. Each cross bore a sticker with one of three words describing Molly: kind, true, brave.
People who love Molly came up with the idea of placing the crosses. As word spread through her school, boxes of them just showed up at the home of her father, John Conley, he said.
“For a lot of Christians, but Roman Catholics in particular, the bare white cross is a sign of resurrection and a sign of ever-lasting life,” John Conley said.
Cars slowed as they passed Friday.
“We all have each other in us. We’re all a part of each other. We’re all connected,” he said. “When we lose someone like we lost Molly, we end up with so much of that person in us.”
Molly’s siblings are determined to honor her, John Conley said. They are thriving, but it’s not easy.
Her classmates also carry her memory.
“She’s part of them. She shines out of them,” he said.
The accused killer, Erick N. Walker, is scheduled to go to trial June 13, but both sides say that they will be seeking a new trial date for some time later this year. It’s a complicated case based on forensics and circumstances.
More than a thousand of the crosses were painted in Spokane, said one of Molly’s uncles, Brian O’Rourk. Family members worked together.
“The crosses say it,” O’Rourk said. “Kind, true, brave, just Molly’s spirit. She’s not physically with us anymore, but I think she’s with each one of us in everything we do.”
One of Molly’s aunts, Mary Mealey, drove over from Spokane.
“Things like this give you a way to just pour your grief out through your hands,” she said. “You can’t do anything but doing something together gives you a chance to feel that grief and see that joy that was in her life. You just want to be together.”
Reporter Diana Hefley contributed to this story.
Rikki King: 425-339-3449; firstname.lastname@example.org.