A Grief That’s Shared by an Entire Community

This story is one that Oahu residents are still scratching their heads over — the senseless death on Thursday of a child who was not quite two years old. Somehow, a peculiar resident of a small neighborhood in Makiki took little Cyrus Belt to a pedestrian, freeway overpass and tossed this toddler over the side and into the moving traffic.

I’m angry. I know others are angry. A little voice has been silenced and we want to know how such a thing could happen. Pictured below is a view of that bridge, facing in the direction of the east-bound traffic on the H-1. To the left you can just barely see people at the end of the bridge. Read on.

View of pedestrian bridge looking eastward.

Partly from frustration and partly from an anguish that I have not been able to put my finger on yet, people are leaving memorials, cards, balloons, signs, letters, stuffed animals, etc. I say frustration because I could “hear” it in some of the things that were written for Cyrus. The messages say things like, “You’re safe now,” “this was not supposed to happen,” “God please hear our prayers,” and other sentiments calling for awareness and a plea that this be a wake-up call for the community. We can’t fix this tragedy, we can’t do anything to make it better for Cyrus. All we can do is not let it happen again!

Gifts left for Cyrus

This is the memorial that was set up for Cyrus on the bridge where he was thrown to his death. It started in the middle of the bridge but the Department of Transportation had to step in and move the mementos to the end of the bridge for safety reasons. Trust me, it’s not because they wanted to… they had to for public safety. KHON2 has a perfect video to share and explain this.

Crowd to pay respects to Cyrus continues to grow

The Honolulu Advertiser printed a letter that was sent to them for them to share that asked, “How do I put away my grief?” This letter spoke volumes of the mass devastation being felt across Oahu County. People cannot pass over or under the bridge without being brought to tears.

People coming to remember Cyrus.

See for yourself — nobody called anyone, these people may or may not even know each other, but there they are. I didn’t know anyone, but there I was. I tried but I couldn’t stop the tears from falling — I finally gave up and decided I would just let them fall.

I was at work when the story broke on Thursday. I wanted to cry then. People in the office canceled plans they had made for that evening. It was just too much to absorb for many of us. The shock and disbelief was just too hard to figure out and it was too difficult to make sense of it all. “Why? How did this happen? Who could have done such a thing?”

Motorists stop for pedestrians wishing to visit the memorial.

I wasn’t the only one drawn to the scene. People continued to come to this little shrine on the bridge. Motorists gladly stopped to allow mourners to cross Magellan Street.

Traffic backed up but for good reason.

After I tore myself away from the bridge and headed for home I thought to myself that, “I shouldn’t have done that. Why did I do that?” I had to. The amount of parents with small children blew me away! After thinking about it, I realized that… they had to. I can tell you this much, this one is definitely a study for the psychology texts. I’m crying even now and finding it very hard to finish this post that I started two days ago.

The pictures above were taken Saturday afternoon. The pictures that follow were taken this afternoon (Sunday), approximately 24 hours later.

Sunday crowds leaving mementos.

People are still coming to the bridge to leave a piece of their heart with Cyrus’ memory. The only difference is that the memorial is larger and expanding its way down the wall along the side of the street.

The gifts increase in number

Yet this community remains in mourning and waits for answers to questions — answers that will let us stop the emotional turbulence. Afterwards, we can begin to contemplate ways to deal with the legal issues and the processes that will need to be implemented to protect the community and its keiki.

I was speaking to a very nice woman at one of the news channels in one last effort to get more answers before posting this. In the course of our conversation, something this lady said made me finally find something good about this whole scene. It suddenly dawned on me, you guys, that we’re not immune to it all!

We haven’t built up an immunity or steeled ourselves to these tragedies. We still care! This is who we are! The ohana that is our community feels the need to band together and, like any family that has lost a family member would do, we just need to lean on each other for a while. We’ll draw on each other’s strength and deal with the recent tragedies that our community has had to face.

For now, we say aloha to Cyrus. Go with God, little angel, we’ll pray for you!

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6 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Becky // Jan 22, 2008 at 9:23 pm

    Evelyn, this story tore me up. What is wrong with people these days? That poor innocent little boy. What did he do so wrong that someone had to do that to him. My heart goes out to the family. Whoever did this, they ought to do the same to them. An eye for an eye. May little Cyrus rest in peace. Take care.

  • 2 Evelyn // Jan 23, 2008 at 4:37 am

    I know, Becky. That’s exactly how so many of us felt and are still feeling. There was a silent march and a vigil yesterday evening for both Cyrus and Janel Tupuola. Janel was a victim of domestic violence — another story that has to move us from sadness to rage. I’m at a loss over it all. I’m grateful for your comments because I don’t know if I should cry or scream. I’ve done both and I think the whole scene is emotionally exhausting for the families and for the community.

    The memorial for Cyrus on the bridge is still growing and the community is… in shock I think. High-profile violence and the resulting deaths are not something we’re good at dealing with from an emotional standpoint. But, if we are ever able to just brush it off… that’s when I’ll start to worry. There’s some comfort in knowing we’re feeling this collectively. Mahalo, Becky, for sharing your sentiments!

  • 3 Ryan // Jan 23, 2008 at 5:15 pm

    Evelyn: I normally have a dismissive or even critical view of roadside memorials, and totally see the tough place the Department of Transportation is in when it comes to allowing this makeshift shrine to grow. But this tragedy has, as I’m sure for many here, touched us deeper than we expected. And on Sunday, my wife asked if we could go to pay our respects.

    It was heartbreaking and beautiful and cathartic to be surrounded by such unified grief for the loss of this young life (especially as attention turns to assigning blame).

    I put together a video montage of the Miller Street memorial. I hope we won’t have to see such a striking display of collective mourning ever again.

  • 4 Evelyn // Jan 23, 2008 at 5:35 pm

    I hear you, Ryan! It’s been difficult and I think it will continue to be so until we are able to find closure to the current tragedies that have plagued us. Thank you for the link to the video and for sharing your feelings! I’ll wager Mrs. Ryan wasn’t able to keep a dry eye. Hugs to you both!

  • 5 HawaiiVacationGifts // Jan 26, 2008 at 5:23 am

    Although I am living on the Big Island, I could not help crying at the tv news reports for a little innocent boy whose time was cut way too short. I have been under that freeway overpass countless times, and know that when I visit Oahu and I pass under it again, I will think of Cyrus even if it is years from now.

  • 6 Evelyn // Jan 26, 2008 at 9:43 am

    It’s amazing, HVG, just how many of us have been emotionally torn apart by it all. I appreciate you sharing that it has stretched all the way across the State. It was hard, and still is, to keep the tears away. I’m just very bad at keeping my emotions in check. It was quite a phenomenon to watch the outpouring of like emotions develop over this.

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