By John Johnston
The Cincinnati Enquirer
Marcie O'Neil worked for months to make her first music CD sound just right. But she knew it would be difficult for her family to hear In Memory Of.
"Sitting there listening to it with them, I almost felt bad, because the emotion was so powerful," says O'Neil, a psychotherapist who lives in Anderson Township. "We all cried a lot, and we talked a lot."
A Dec. 17 Tempo story told how O'Neil decided to record a CD after her 19-year-old niece, Jackie Ahlers, was killed last March in a car accident that also claimed the lives of five other Bowling Green State University students returning from spring break.
O'Neil, who has been singing nonprofessionally all her life, co-wrote several of the CD's 12 songs, and selected others based on their ability to convey themes of spirituality, loss, healing and rebuilding.
A few days after the story appeared, O'Neil's sister and brother-in-law - Peg and Bob Ahlers are Jackie's parents - gathered with about a dozen family members and friends to listen.
"It really has helped me tremendously," says Peg Ahlers, who lives in Vandalia and has two other daughters. "It's helped me move on. Some days, though, I'm back to square one. But it's helped me get my faith back."
She sent copies to the parents of the other young women who died in the crash, which occurred on a windy, rainy night on Interstate 71 in Northern Kentucky.
No drugs or alcohol were involved, police said.
"I want to get (the CD) out to people," Peg Ahlers says. "I want as many people to hear it as they can."
Many already have.
O'Neil gave copies to friends and members of her church. In addition, nearly 200 CDs have been sold through Berean Christian Stores in Forest Fair Mall and Family Christian Stores at Eastgate.
Other stores also now carry it: Borders Books, Music & CafÈ at Eastgate; Faith & Joy in Anderson Township; Joseph Beth Booksellers in Norwood; and Family Christian Stores, Florence.
It's also available for $15 by calling (513) 395-8930.
O'Neil has received about two dozen letters from grieving strangers, many of whom have lost children in accidents. "Your music speaks to my heart and I love every song," one woman wrote.
The letters confirm what Ms. O'Neil already knew.
"When people are grieving they feel so alone. They're really not. There are so many other people who are grieving and we never seem to touch base with each other."
Marcie O'Neil found a way to make the connection. With music.
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