INCONSOLABLE: Relatives console Jemilia Forde, mother of five-year-old Jemimah Agard, during yesterday’s service.

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...Relative: We must all be more vigilant

Wearing white, a group of children from the community of Rose Hill, Laventille, joined a congregation of grief-stricken adults to bid farewell to their precious peer Jemimah Malia Agard, at Holy Trinity Cathedral, Port of Spain, yesterday. 

Jemimah, five, a pupil of Sharon’s Nursery School, died by drowning after a swimming lesson at the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) at Wrightson Road, Port of Spain, last Monday. 

Among the mourners were her mother Jamila and aunt Makida Forde, calypsonian Dianne “Lady Wonder” Hendrickson and East Dry River councillor Nedra McLean. Jemimah’s uncle Akido Forde delivered the eulogy. 

Former Anglican dean Canon Knolly Clarke officiated at the service and delivered the homily plucked from Romans 8.  As people filed past the casket, they wiped away tears. 

Forde invited the mourners to engage in a bit of introspection and to strive to be more caring.  

Forde said, “What can we learn from Jemimah’s tragic death? We can all learn to be more aware of  the valuable short life we have, and in an instant, it can be taken away. We can be reminded to be more vigilant and conscious of our surroundings. We can learn to take extra care of those who are entrusted to us, because it sometimes takes less than a second to lose a life.

“We can justify taking extra time to love our children, nieces, nephews, grandchildren and precious friends. Leave this ceremony, knowing Jemimah would want you to slow down and share the flowers on the vine of life with those you love.”

He said his sister Jamila continues to grapple for answers to the unkindest cut of all. He asked, “Why was Jemimah taken from us so young? She was so good, honest and sweet.”

Despite the brevity of Jemimah’s life, Forde said she touched people with her charm and abundant talents. He said, “My memory of Jemimah is of a loving and innocent child, who could literally light up a room. A memory of warmth and love, hugs and kisses, for it was something she absolutely loved to do. Jemimah loved to dance.” 

Forde added, “She was known for her special and unique dancing capabilities. Jemimah was bright. She was quite an athlete, who won several races in school, as well as sports and family day. She was the future, one that shone bright and bountiful with hope, love and happiness.”

A text message from her father Marvin Agard, who is working in St Vincent, was read at the funeral, “She brought me so much joy. I loved you from the day you were born till the day you died. I will always love you, and your mother, too.”

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