A heart-shaped mosaic of rocks sit together on the beach in Belmar as part of a growing memorial to those on the Jersey Shore --- each rock adorned with the name of someone lost to COVID-19.
Rima Samman first carved out this corner of Belmar’s beach as a memorial site, painting clam shells with the names of lost ones, including her brother. What started with just a few dozen names and a single heart mosaic, quickly grew into a striking memorial.
Other people suffering from their own COVID losses reached out to Samman and came to the beach to place rocks in the sand bearing the names of their own loved ones.
Now, six heart formations lay in the sand with dozens of names resting within them. Two more will be constructed this week.
“Many people thank me, they say this is the only thing they see that’s helping them heal. They see their loved ones' names,“ Samman said.
The memorial provides a space in which Jersey Shore residents can honor their loved ones, but also stands as a devastating reminder of the scale of loss experienced throughout the pandemic.
The sun, snow and rain has begun fading the names on some of the rocks. Samman hopes to find a more permanent and protected place to house the memorial.