TEARS AND GRIEF
By SASHA HARRINANAN Friday, March 1 2013
DAYS of anger gave way to deep grief yesterday as residents of Sea Lots gathered inside the Laventille Open Bible Church off the Eastern Main Road to bid a final tearful farewell at the funeral for young mother Haydee Paul and her daughters Akasha, eight, and Shakira, six, who died on Sunday after being hit by a policeman’s car along the Beetham Highway in Sea Lots.
Joining Paul’s relatives, neighbours and friends at the funeral was a sombre Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, who at the end of the service walked up to the caskets bearing the remains of 28-year-old Paul and her daughters. In a touching gesture, the Prime Minister placed her hand on the top of the casket of one of the children and bowed her head.
Persad-Bissessar, Opposition Chief Whip in the Senate Pennelope Beckles-Robinson, PoS South MP Marlene McDonald and Managing Director of the Housing Development Corporation, Jearlean John, also attended the funeral.
Delivering the eulogy, Paul’s cousin Allison Paul-Hill said she wanted to focus on the positives despite her immense grief.
“I’ve heard enough. The good, the bad and the ugly. It’s hard to see your loved ones like that (so) I decided to celebrate the positives instead. Haydee came from a good home. She was brought up to know the Lord. Her grandmother saw to that.
“Shakira was a good child. She was sick on and off, in and out of hospital because she had asthma. Akasha or ‘Ruthie’ as she was known got into trouble now and again but she was sweet at heart. They are all in a better place this I know and one sweet day we will meet again,” Paul- Hill said.
A student of the Eastern Government Primary School in Port-of-Spain read a short note in honour of her schoolmates Shakira and Akasha. “It is painful that we are apart. All my tears...I cannot hide. You two were so special to me. I will always remember your friendship and I love you both. Until we meet again at Jesus’ feet,” the little girl said as the congregation said, “Amen.”
Pastor Reverend Junior Bedeau described Haydee’s daughters as, “two of my children”, having first met Akasha when she was a toddler. Telling mourners that he had been discussing ways to improve the lives of children in Sea Lots, one day before Paul and her daughters were killed, Bedeau struggled to fight back tears as he recalled seeing the bodies on the highway last Sunday morning. “I was heading into Sea Lots when I saw a car on the road and people lying on the ground. I parked and walked to the scene and I saw on the road two of my children,” Bedeau said. He then paused as he tried to fight back tears.
On the fiery protest by Sea Lots residents, who threw debris onto the highway and set it on fire on Monday, causing traffic to back up for miles for more than three hours, Bedeau commended the residents for showing “restraint and patience.”
“Yes, you were gesticulating and shouting but you were speaking from the heart about what had happened. I did not see any of you pick up a missile and pelt it,” Bedeau said as he asked the congregation to stand up and applaud the residents.
He then called on mourners to continue praying for other persons injured in the accident who remain hospitalised including Ryan Rampersad, Abigail Assing and Amanda Lalla. Fellow pastor, Reverend Benjamin Agard said he hopes the death of the young family would not be in vain and that pedestrian walkovers would be built over the Beetham Highway.
“Many promises have been made to this community. I pray that it will not be deferred once again,” Agard stated. A third pastor, Desmond Austin, offered prayers for the children left traumatised by the loss of their friends Akasha and Shakira. Austin told mourners to use this moment of deep grief to reconnect with their family and loved ones especially children.
“Understand Sea Lots (residents) that in the midst of your crisis, in the midst of this deep grief and mourning, this is an opportunity for many of you to restore the relationship with your children. God has a plan for the nation and it may just come out of Sea Lots. I see potential in the faces of each young man and woman in the community. Sea Lots, your best days are ahead of you,” Austin declared.
After the two-hour long service ended, Prime Minister Persad-Bissessar spoke briefly to Newsday saying, “I was here today to mourn with them on the passing of a mother and her two children. I am a grandmother. Our (the Government) condolences are with them. We continue to do what we can to assist the family.” Following the service, mother and daughters were laid to rest at the Tunapuna Public Cemetery.