‘Little moment can change a life’

By Lisa Williams Ackley
Staff Writer

NAPLES — There was perhaps never a more cherished, fiercely loyal friend and confidante than 20-year-old Krista Deann Dittmeyer, family and friends said at her funeral service inside Lake Region High School, her alma mater, Monday evening.

Approximately 300 people from across the Lake Region and throughout the state attended Krista’s service May 2, listening to her older sister Kayla, her friends from high school and Reverend Don Mayberry speak of who she was and what meant the most to her.

“There are some times in our lives, some events in our lives meant to be shared, Rev. Mayberry said, at the outset. “But, pain and sorrow, grief and suffering also need to be shared.”

Reverend Mayberry thanked those present Monday night for being there to support Krista’s family, at the very time they most need them.

Krista’s parents, Larry and LaNell Shackley, her older sister Kayla, and other family members sat close together in the front row of the gymnasium. Krista’s daughter, 14-month-old Aliyah, could be heard cooing, as she sat and played in her relatives’ laps.

“The pain is so intense, the loss so deep and the anger so real and present — they are emotions that are overwhelming — this group of family and friends — all of you gathered here — are a gift to them, and I thank you for them,” Rev. Mayberry said, on behalf of Krista’s family.

“I will not gloss over the person Krista was, and I will not portray her as more than she was, because what she was was more than enough,” the minister said. “Krista was full of energy, compassionate, strong-willed and caring — she was on loan from God — a gift to this family — a presence among us who has brightened our lives. She was a wonderful mother.”

Yet, said Rev. Mayberry, “Her family and friends are also brokenhearted, confused, mystified, and there is sadness…and a certain amount of anger, as we try to piece together” what has happened.

The pastor pointed out that because Krista was loved so very much, the pain of her loss is that much more difficult to bear.

“Sadly, the healing will not be miraculous and quick,” Rev. Mayberry said. “It will continue to cause pain for a lifetime — that is (due to) that love (for Krista).”

Reading from First Corinthinans 13, Reverend Mayberry said the passage he cited ends with the words “faith, hope and love.”

“And the greatest of those is love,” he said.

“Krista was a very independent soul, but was deeply blessed with friends and family — and she knew and appreciated that,” the pastor said. “Her parents told me how much she loved people, how much they loved her and how protective she was of her sister Kayla. That didn’t mean there was no sibling rivalry, but Kayla said that over the last two years, she and Krista grew even closer.”

“Her mother said that growing up Krista was always happy, always singing — Mommy’s little girl,” stated Rev. Mayberry.

Referring to her high school life, the pastor said, “She came to this (Lake Region High) school as much to be with her friends than to be educated. She loved her social network — she loved to be with her friends. She was very athletic, participating in track and cheerleading…Life with Krista was never dull. She never had an unexpressed thought — you always knew what was on her mind. And, she was always loyal.”

The minister said Krista will be especially remembered “for her love of animals, her love of people and her love of life.”

“She loved children, and babysat for families all around the Bridgton area,” said Reverend Mayberry. “That loving, nurturing side of her came in to play, when she became a mother herself.”

The minister went on to say that Krista was fondly known as “a social butterfly” — a personality trait that stood her in good stead in her waitressing jobs.

“She cared about people,” said Rev. Mayberry. “She was open, caring and loving — perhaps that’s her legacy — she loved freely and deeply — and she was loved freely and deeply.”

Kayla honors her sister’s memory

Trying to hold back her tears, Kayla said of Krista, “Wow — who would believe one young lady could have touched so many lives?”

“Thank you for all the love and support we’ve received,” said Kayla, on behalf of her entire family. “Everyone has asked what they can do for our family. Take a look around — this is all that we need — your love and support.”

Kayla then offered a cautionary note to those in attendance, saying, “Think about everything you do — and never lie about where you’re going or what you’re doing — one little moment can change a life.”

Kayla then read a poem she said someone gave to her the day Krista’s body was found in the snowmaking pond in New Hampshire.

Speaking through her tears, Kayla read the poem that says, in part, “When tomorrow starts without me and I’m not there to see; If the sun should rise and find your eyes all filled with tears for me. I wish so much you wouldn’t cry the way you did today; while thinking of the many things we didn’t get to say…So, when tomorrow starts without me, don’t think we’re far apart, for every time you think of me, I’m right here in your heart.”

Family friend Amy Figoli asked everyone present at the funeral service to not take part in “hearsay, specifically all the what ifs.”

“Stay mindful of what you repeat and what you say,” Figoli said. “Do not take her dignity away. Do not take her integrity away. Exercise the wisdom of discretion.”

Four of Krista’s best friends — Hope Lanham, Nora Antonio, Kayla Kirk and Jessica Corson — spoke of their love and devotion for Krista and hers for them.

“She was an amazing person, a devoted mother and a loyal friend,” said Lanham. The others said they will always cherish the memories they have of Krista and one said, “I hope someday I can share these memories with her daughter Aliyah who will know what a wonderful mother she was.”

“Great pain is a sign of love,” Rev. Mayberry said. Saying Krista’s life was “cut mysteriously short,” he then asked everyone to take a suggestion made by Figoli to heart.

“There’s a great unknown as to what transpired, and I love Amy’s suggestion that we don’t try to figure it out, but rather let grace and unconditional love fill our space and fill our thoughts.”

“Hang on to the love you felt for her and the love she felt for you and let that love wash over you,” Rev. Mayberry said.

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