The tears flowed like rivers, snaking down the faces of mourners; the sadness enveloped the Garfield Sobers Sports Complex as families, friends, loved ones and acquaintances gathered to say a final and painful farewell to Shakira and Shameka Shepherd and Wavenie Johnson.
The three young women, who along with their friend Carey Brathwaite were said to be inseparable in life, died together in the early hours of Sunday October 25, and today, they were buried together after a moving funeral service. Their lives had come to a sudden and shocking end when the car in which they were travelling crashed into a guard wall along Two Mile Hill, St Michael.
The sight of the three white caskets which carried their bodies was enough to rend already shattered hearts. The young women who loved dressing up in life, were dressed in pretty cream and white laced dresses, adorned with purple and pink accessories for their final send-off.
Their parents wept bitterly when it was time to close the coffins, the thoughts of seeing them for the very last time, even in death, too much to bear.
Even before the scheduled 11:30 a.m. viewing began, scores of the hundreds who turned up at the gymnasium stole a final glimpse of the three.
The just over two-hour long service was a bittersweet one with touching and thought provoking tributes in word and in song.
There were stories of the precious moments they had shared, the potential that each young lady had and the commitment to excellence in their chosen fields. There were so many dreams left unfulfilled, so much time to do so much. And so many simply wondered why they had to die so young.
Shakira’s aunt Michelle Medford-Robinson said her niece, who worked at the Grantley Adams International Airport and a University of the West Indies graduate, was very caring and often opted to lend a helping hand or do what was possible to make others life easier.
“I know many of us wish this day never came. I too wished it wasn’t a reality. But I pray that God’s peace which surpasses all understanding would rule our hearts and our minds at this time,” Medford-Robinson said as she read Shakira’s eulogy.
Kelly Carmichael, a family friend of Wavenie Johnson, said she had an “incomparable” loyalty and created bonds with those with whom she came into contact. She said Wavenie was not perfect by any means, but wanted to take the world by storm.
“No parent should ever have to bury their child or children. But neither should we question God if such happens as time and unforeseen occurrences befall us all. Although tragic, Wavenie died happy after having a celebratory night with her friends. She enjoyed life,” Carmichael said.
Dr Wendy Ward, a dentist at the Oistins Polyclinic where Shameka worked as a dental assistant for four years, praised the young lady’s admirable working habits.
Ward said she was especially proud when Shameka, who was returning from celebrating her birthday with her friends when the accident occurred, was accepted into the nursing programme at the Barbados Community College.
Shameka’s godmother Joylyn Clarke who read her eulogy said she was hurting as the deceased who loved and lived life to the fullest was the second godchild she had lost in tragic circumstances. She, too, had been looking forward to the day her goddaughter graduated from nursing school.
“Shameka had the attributes that would have made her an excellent nurse,” Clarke said.
Prominent church leaders, including Pastor Eliseus Joseph, prayed for comfort for the family members as they huddled together in front of the caskets.
Dr David Durant, head of the planning committee for the funeral, who delivered a fiery message, cried out that too many young people in Barbados were losing their lives tragically.
Member of Parliament for St Philip North Michael Lashley and MP for St Philip South Adriel Brathwaite were present to console and support the loved ones.
During brief remarks, Brathwaite, who is the Attorney General, urged the mourners to turn to God for much needed comfort and support, while Lashley said he too grieved for the young ladies and described them as sisters in every sense of the word.
He noted that they were all pursuing individual career goals and ambitions and indicated that he was supremely confident that they would have become productive members of society, contributing solutions rather than problems.
“I am deeply saddened that they were not able to live to see their true potential and fulfill their goals and ambitions. But the future is in the hands of our Creator and the Master of our fate,” Lashley said.
Also offering tributes during the lively service were Kareen Clarke, Anthony Mighty Gabby Carter and Adrian Clarke. Students of Deighton Griffith Secondary School, which the Shepherds attended, also performed a musical tribute.
Carey Brathwaite will be buried at the St Barnabas Anglican Church cemetery on Thursday, while Nakisha Shepherd, the fifth person involved in the accident, remains hospitalized.
The three “inseparable” friends were buried side by side at the Bushy Park Cemetery, together eternally in very much the same way they lived.