Stumbling upon a poem that could be her baby sister Murchannah Lavia’s last written words, her eldest sister/eulogist Ardisha Atwell shared it with scores of mourners.
An excerpt reads:
“Miss me, but let me go
When I come to the end of the road and the sun has set for me
I want no rites in a gloom-filled room
Why cry for a soul set free?”
Overcome with emotion at her prophetic words, Murchannah’s father Anthony Lavia collapsed at the Petit Valley Pentecostal Church, Stoer Drive Extension and Morne Coco Road yesterday. For a few minutes, the focus shifted to her grieving father. Supported by his wife Omadavee Lavia, he somewhat regained his composure amid a tear-filled congregation. The mourners wept as they bade farewell to 14-year-old Murchannah, fondly called Chan Chan or Channa.
On March 19, Murchannah died after a bullet was discharged from a gun, which a 15-year-old relative had in his possession at the time.
Murchannah, a pupil of Providence Girls’ Catholic School, Belmont, was shot once in the chest.
Among those who paid their respects were Diego Martin Central MP Amery Browne, Marcia De Freitas, Petit Valley Girls’ Roman Catholic School principal; Rev Anthony Quimby of St James Church of the Nazarene; Ministry of Education School Supervisor III Olson Oliver and Pastor Fabien Sandiford. They joined her siblings Anthony, Andre, Andell and Aleya and the rest of the community. Accompanied by his mother Barbara Manswell, Kenrick Manswell played the haunting strains of “It Is Well With My Soul” on his clarinet.
Carrying roses and carnations, several of her classmates shared their memories of Murchannah. As they exited the podium, cries pierced the air. As far as the eye could see, young people were huddled in groups mourning the loss of their friend. Seated on the steps, a young relative cupped his hands in his face and wept. Supported by her relatives at the back of the church, her paternal grandmother Mursha Nieves’ body was wracked by sobs.
Atwell called for forgiveness and healing for the member of the clan who had committed the act.
She said: “Now is a time for us to become closer as a family and forgive but not forget. Look on. But don’t be blinded by the treasures of the world. (Name called), you are the baby of the family and we have already forgiven you. Don’t worry about Channa, she is in a happy and better place. We just want you to forgive yourself and become closer to the Creator for He alone can give you the strength and understanding to do so.”
On the lighter side, Lavia left the congregation with memories of Channa who relished fried chicken and fries in a red box.
Browne said: “There are no words that I can say to this family who has lost their child. The report has been about a decent, caring and promising child. The angel of death is stalking this land. You will see her again.”
Quimby said the Lavias had suffered the “tremendous loss of not one but two children”.
He said: “So many people have had so much to say. When Cain took Abel’s life, his blood spoke from the earth. There is something about innocent blood that speaks. I thank God that he is a loving and a forgiving God.”
De Freitas said Murchannah meant memorable, understanding, rich in knowledge, caring and considerate, high achiever, admirable, never ending source of inspiration, noble and articulate.
Oliver said the words of the late pop icon Michael Jackson should inspire everyone to “Heal the World, make it a better place if you can”.
In his homily, Sandiford said silence was contributing to society’s downward spiral.
He said: “Do not allow the negative elements to prevail. There are too many silent people. It is important we don’t allow the negative elements to overtake us. Most of us are positive people.”