PEABODY — Stephanie Schieding of Peabody was just 10 years old when she died from a rare form of kidney cancer. In the 10 years since then, her mom, Annmarie Schieding, has visited Stephanie’s grave at Oak Grove Cemetery nearly every day.
Last Thursday, however, she was stunned to discover that all the angels she had placed at her child’s headstone were gone. It was “heartbreaking,” she said.
“It’s been 10 years, but we’re still grieving the loss of our daughter,” Schieding said. “She was loved by everyone who met her and had a very kind heart. ... She lived life to the fullest and never wanted to miss a day of school, and never really did.”
One time, she recalled, Stephanie was in the nurse’s office at West School because her platelets were low. She was getting ready to go to the hospital, but another little girl came in with a skinned knee. Stephanie got off the couch and told her: “Here, you need this more than I do.”
One way the family has tried to heal in the years since Stephanie’s death has been by placing items at her grave that had special meaning for her or for them. In total, there were 15 angels and about 15 other figurines, stuffed animals and mementos left by family and friends. On May 5, two days before Stephanie’s birthday, her mother planted flowers.
“It looks like nobody has been up there in years now,” Schieding said.
“It’s hard for all of us,” she added. Neither her husband, Paul, nor their son, Michael — Stephanie’s older brother — can bear to visit the desecrated gravesite now, she said.
City Cemetery Superintendent David Cronin said that as distasteful as the theft may be, he’s not surprised. It happens all the time, he said.