Three months after her immeasurable loss, an Edmonton mother is continuing a tradition in honour of her young daughter.
This Sunday, Melissa Desrosiers and her daughter Lily will host a lemonade stand for the Stollery Children’s Hospital.
Simply Supper’s Lemonade Stand Day started in 2014 with 30 stands raising $4,000 for the hospital.
This year there will be hundreds of stands with a goal of $82,600.
The Desrosiers family started participating because of Melissa’s oldest daughter Bella.
“She loved everything. She loved animals. She loved others. She loved life. She loved to share and give,” Melissa told Global News.
This year Melissa and Lily will host without the 7-year-old.
In May, Bella was killed by a family friend.
Melissa admits continuing the August tradition was not an easy decision.
“I wanna do it because it’s something that Bella wanted to do,” she said.
“It’s something I just feel like we need to continue. But it also brings a lot of good memories back.”
Photos show a beaming Bella proudly standing behind a bright yellow lemonade stand handmade by her father.
She quickly became known around her southeast Edmonton neighbourhood as “the Lemonade Girl.”
After Bella’s death Melissa received a poem from a stranger who identified himself as Garth Paul Ukrainetz.
A little girl
Sweet Bella Rose
She loved to sing
Her lemon songs
Into this world
Her sunshine poured
To fill the heart
Where love belongs
A gentle hand
A happy smile
A ray of light
Her life displayed
Back to the sun
From where she came
To fill her glass
This year the organizer of Lemonade Stand Day created a sticker for all the stands which honours Bella.
Melissa said community support like that keeps her going, but ultimately it was a conversation with Lily which made her realize they should participate this year.
“I said, ‘Why do you want to continue doing the lemonade stand this year even though Bella’s not with us?’ and she said, ‘to share Bella’s love.'”
They will also be sharing an important message at their stand.
Along with canned lemonade and baked goods, they’ll be offering information on mental health supports.
Melissa’s husband died by suicide in 2019. She has since become an advocate for mental health.
“This year the proceeds for the Stollery are going to art therapy and we’ve had great benefits from art therapy in our healing journey,” Melissa said.
The mother and daughter hope hosting the stand also helps in their journey.
Precautions are being taken at all the stands to comply with pandemic health restrictions.
Lemonade and snacks will be in individual containers. Hand sanitizer and masks will be used.
There is also an opportunity to donate online or by text instead of in person.