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Momlogic Goes to Caylee's Memorial

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The Anthony family says goodbye to Caylee with grace, dignity and just a little bit of denial.


Momlogic's Andrea: By the time I arrived at the Orlando Baptist Church at 7:00 AM, people had already started lining up -- although the service would not start for three more hours.

Just by looking at the line, it would be hard to guess this was a memorial for a little girl made famous only by her untimely death.

The crowd, a slice of humanity, was made up of couples, black, white, elderly, and a surprising amount of children. As I looked closer, it started to come into focus why we were there.

At one point, a woman showed up with a doll -- similar to the one Caylee had carried. Another passed a box of tissues down the line, asking people to help themselves. It seemed like a good idea. I took several sheets. A little girl had several giant Caylee buttons pinned to her jacket.

The lines formed early -- local news had predicted traffic and crowds -- but those masses of people never materialized. In the end, hundreds showed, not thousands. One young couple arrived at 4:00 AM, leaving their two young children with grandparents to attend the event, "We know what it's like to lose a child-- or almost lose a child," Amber told me. "Our daughter had a febrile seizure last month and she stopped breathing." The two arrived a day before the church service to visit the Caylee memorial on Suburban Drive where her remains were eventually found.

Lisa Camiolo from nearby Kissimmee brought along her three children, ages four, five and nine. "They know that Caylee died and that her mom is probably to blame," Camiolo said. She's even used the story as a way to teach her kids lessons of responsibility. "Sometimes you can't get your way, I tell them. Casey wanted a carefree life, my kids want a puppy -- it's a lot of work and you just have to do it." Camiolo believes a public memorial is important. "This story brought our community together," she says. "It was a community-wide search for her. We were a part of it."

I met Michele Murphy, a childhood friend of Casey's brother Lee. She had even attended Caylee's last birthday party, and had taken the day off work to attend. She told me she thought it was a bit odd that some people were attending a memorial for a child they didn't even know. "They want to be part of the circus,' she said. "Some of them are just voyeurs."

Right next to Michele was a woman already in tears. "I cried when they found her, like she was my own child," the woman in her 60s told me as she dabbed tears from her eyes. "I could never have children."

Emotions were running high ... and we hadn't even gone into the church yet.

When we were finally let into the massive Worship Center, images of Caylee were flashing on a huge screen -- and yes, of Casey, too. It was hard not to be simultaneously moved and horrified by the sight of Casey holding baby Caylee in her arms. The pictures could've been ripped from my own family album.

Then the Anthony family filed in. People I had seen everyday on television, now come to life. Just a regular family with a dark past and future.

One concern on everyone's mind was George Anthony, recently released from the hospital after a possible suicide attempt. How could a man on the brink of suicide endure this kind of event? One of the musical numbers performed was called "One More Day." It seemed to be one that could send him over the edge. The song laments the loss of a loved one and the regret of never getting to say goodbye ... hardly a message that would be good "medicine" for George. Cindy put her arms around her husband while the music played.

Lee Anthony was the first to officially speak. And the first thing out of his mouth was a condemnation. "Yield any judgment you already have," he pleaded. He also asked for continued help with the investigation. After the memorial, Brad Conway, speaking on behalf of the Anthonys, said Lee is indeed looking for more tips on who killed Caylee. To Lee Anthony, Casey Anthony is not a suspect.

During Lee's time at the podium, he referred to Caylee as C.M.A. (Caylee Marie Anthony), then kissed his hand -- where he presumably has a tattoo of her initials -- and said, "I will never forget the promise I made to you." I looked around at the audience -- many were in tears. At that moment, Lee Anthony was the best uncle in the world. An uncle without a niece.

The most moving part of the ceremony came when George Anthony told stories like any besotted grandfather about his little Caylee. "I can close my eyes and I can see her coming from her bedroom with her silly little glasses on, her beads, whatever it might be, to make me laugh. She was a comedian to me," he said. Then he shifted his focus to his Casey. "I miss my daughter. Please write her letters," he begged the congregation. "She deserves our love and prayers." George Anthony proved, beyond a shadow of doubt, that he loves his daughter unconditionally.

When it was her turn to speak, Cindy did the same. "It breaks my heart that Casey's not with us today to honor the child she loves so very, very much," she said. Speaking directly to Casey, she thanked her for giving her the "greatest gift -- Caylee." She said, "I love you, and I wish I could comfort you right now. ... Caylee was so much like you. She got your beauty and your compassion, and she got your spirit."

No one knows if Casey, sitting alone in a cell less than a mile from the church, heard her mother. But if she was listening, she would've heard a family desperately searching for closure.

As for me, when I walked back to my car, all I wanted to do was see my daughter. I longed to hold her and to cherish her --  because, as George Anthony said, "You can lose them in a second." And I had just seen proof of that.

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67 comments so far | Post a comment now
Joyce February 12, 2009, 10:21 PM

To all of you pointing a finger at the Anthony’s — 9 more are pointing back at you.

April February 13, 2009, 6:02 AM

I am sick of these people who quote the Bible and say thou shall not judge and then turn around and judge the public for seeing the truth. No one is pointing fingers at the Anthonys. They are observing what they see and speaking out. I applaud the bloggers who see through this charade the Anthonys are trying to perpetrate on a potential jury pool. This is a very dysfunctional family who could never see Casey for the sociopath that she really is. If they had, they could see she never bonded with Caylee and that she is self absorbed, a liar and a thief. She is not a loving daughter and sister and she never was a loving mother. Any objective person listening to her interviews, telephone calls and jailhouse visits can see she cares about no one but herself. There is nothing wrong with loving a family member unconditionally but to deny her destructive behavior only allows her to continue it. Hopefully 12 jurors will see to it that Casey is in prison the rest of her life so she cannot have more children and murder them or murder someone else who gets in her way.

Sick of the circus February 13, 2009, 7:01 AM

I can’t stand religious hypocrits. Cindy and George made me sick when they spoke about God and Jesus and prayer and how Caylee was now an angel with wings watching over other children and that their daughter was a loving mother. Do they really expect us that a good Christian girl uses the F bomb several times in one sentence, has sex with whoever wants it, gets pregnant and lies about who fathered her child, lies to friends, family and the police, steals from friends and family and is jealous of and murders her own child? Do they really expect us to believe that a good Christian woman swears, lies and judges and condemns the media, FBI, sheriff’s deputies, Tim Miller, Leonard Padilla, Nancy Grace, Mark Klass and anyone who wanted to find Caylee because they believed she was dead and Casey was responsible? Do they really believe a Christian man gambles, lies and covers up for the person who murdered his granddaughter? If the Anthonys were true Christians, Caylee would never have been brought into a dysfunctional family who battled night and day over her. This is a very sad situation but the Anthonys only make themselves look worse with their public displays that they are the perfect Christian family. It would be better if they would tell the truth - that their daughter was out of control and they didn’t know what to do about it. The first step to being a good Christian is to admit your sins, not cover them up.

Up To Here February 13, 2009, 11:07 AM

I too am sick of all of you that preach about being good christians, I believe we all should stand up to our sins. I don’t know the Ants, but I can see when people are full of sh&t and they win the academy award for liars, lets not forget George was a homicide detective, he said the car smelled like a dead body was in it. Cindy too, an RN said smells like a damn dead body. Those were the only words they spoke truthfully since this entire drama started. They knew that Casey did a terrible thing and now its too late to take any of it back. George in his interview with LE said he wanted to be the one to break it to his wife. I know qiute a few police officers and they have pretty disfunctional families, One of them has his wife so scared to leave him that she takes beatings on a regular basis, the children are abused too, for no reason, No one helps, because she says nothings wrong. I call or see her everyday and night because I’m afraid for her life, I’m afraid I’ll find her dead one day. Hes a cop and has many resources. I look at George and see a man that isn’t too sharp. I look at Cindy and see control freak. I look at Lee and see someone that was allowed to do whatever he wanted, Casey told her boyfriend Tony that when she was young her brother would come into her room and touch her and Cindy or George never did anything. How long did that go on for?? None of the immediate families want anything to do with them, that speaks volumes. None of them were at the memorial for Caylee. I feel for them, I’m not heartless, but they would get more sympathy from me if they would just stop throwing Caseys innocent in with Caylees name. I just wanted them to give Caylee the respect she deserved, the memorial was for her, no one else, yet they managed to get people to feel sorry for the murderer. That was very disrespectful to Caylee. Casey will have her day. They didn’t need to talk about Casey that one day…

Slim February 13, 2009, 2:27 PM

That event was not for Caylee, it was for Cindy. She needs to get over her self. YOUR DAUGHTER KILLED THAT BABY!!!
The quicker you admit it the quicker the healing process can begin.

jenna February 18, 2009, 11:04 AM

I find it disturbing that they celebrated Casey at Caylee’s funeral. Buttons of Caylee were appropriate - buttons of Casey were not. Also, Brad Conway, confirmed that when Lee Anthony said CMA - he was referring to his sister & telling her that he loved her. Something just isn’t right with Lee’s obsession with Casey & the way he went on & on about CMA. He didn’t speak to CMA as an uncle or brother, but as a lover whose heart is breaking. Very disturbing. I also am disgusted that the family took the time to try and locate more leads to help Casey. I mean, this is getting to the point of no return here. They all know she did it & yet they continue to lie and use the lawyer as their mouth piece. Finally, with the new evidence that is just coming to light today - Casey looks beyond guilty. I hope they found her prints because I want the parents & Lee to hear that they are defending a baby killer.

Sunshine April 27, 2009, 11:06 AM

Remember God will deal with Casey and her family, Caylee is with her father now, making sure she is protected and loved now. I just pray that when Caylee was going thru all the hurt and pain and torture that god was with her to take it all away. She is safe now!!!

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