Butterfly garden helps Davie couple cope with grief
Apr 14, 2012 (Sun Sentinel - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
In the midst of the greatest pain they'd ever suffered, William and Karen Roach found comfort and inspiration in a butterfly.
Days after their 22-year-old daughter, Amber, was killed in an Aug. 6 car accident, Karen found a pink beaded butterfly bracelet in her Davie home that her daughter had made. Amber loved butterflies and even had one tattooed on her shoulder.
"All of a sudden it came to me. We've got to do a living tribute in her memory. Let's do a butterfly garden," said Karen Roach, 55, a kindergarten teacher at Palm Cove Elementary in Pembroke Pines.
Eight months and more than $1,000 in donations later, that garden is almost ready to welcome its first butterflies and visitors. It's housed in front of the Elks Lodge at 7190 Davie Road Extension in Hollywood. The couple has ordered 150 butterflies for a private dedication ceremony planned for April 28.
The garden features a variety of flowers that will serve as nectar sources for adult butterflies and food plants for caterpillars. There are also a bench, birdbath and fountain. A granite marker with Amber's picture will soon to added.
The Roaches see it as a more inviting place to remember their daughter than a cemetery. They plan to leave an endowment to the Elks Club, where they are members, to maintain the garden.
"Long after Karen and I pass on, that garden will be here, and people will tell the story of Amber and how the garden got there," said William Roach, 59, who retired two years ago as principal of Coconut Creek Elementary.
Adopted when she was three days old, Amber was the Roaches' only child. The father remembers her as a "fashionista who loved her sunglasses and cowboy boots."
While a student at Nova High School, she was a teen music contributor for the Sun Sentinel. She graduated with a communications degree from Florida State University and took a job with Verizon in Tallahassee. She also was looking at law schools, so she could study environmental law.
Her life ended in the early morning hours of Aug. 6 when she was riding in a car driven by an acquaintance, Brandon Davis, who police say was under the influence of alcohol and drugs. He lost control of the car, causing it to flip over several times, police said. He survived and was charged with manslaughter.
"Not a day goes by that I don't cry," said Karen Roach. "She was such a special child for us."
But the memorial has helped bring solace to the couple, who say they are getting signs from Amber that they're doing the right thing. They were in a nursery recently when they noticed a butterfly in the air.
Then, when William Roach was at the garden for his first media interview, he saw a butterfly.
"Oh my goodness," he told Karen by phone. "It's the first one I've seen."
"This is her spirit," Karen said. "This is meant to be."
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