Carey Brathwaite, the youngest of the four young women who died in last month’s crash at Two Mile Hill, St Michael received a quiet and sombre send off yesterday.
The St Barnabas Anglican Church was the venue at which Brathwaite was introduced to Christianity when she was christened as a child, and it was where the 18-year-old would make her final stop on earth before she was returned to the ground.
For just over an hour, Brathwaite’s family, friends, former Springer Memorial schoolmates and past teachers gathered there to reflect on the life of the girl they all knew so well and loved so much.
Unlike Tuesday’s funeral service for her friends Wavenie Johnson, and Shakira and Shameka Shepherd at which hundreds viewed their bodies, today’s ceremony was different. There was no viewing.
Those who showed up at the church in anticipation of a final glimpse of the teenager’s mortal remains were greeted instead by a photograph of Brathwaite adorned in her graduation gown, with a scroll in her hand and a bright smile on her face, resting on the brown coffin.
That was the final image her family wanted mourners of have of her, as they opted for a closed casket.
Wavenie’s mother Carmalie Johnson was there, and so too was Shameka’s mother Glorine.
The tributes included a moving rendition of The Midnight Cry by Cherise Cave and a violin recital of Sweet Hour of Prayer by Myles Gittens.
Then came the words of reminiscence read by her uncle Keith Phillips who remembered Brathwaite as a respectful daughter who was extremely protective of her siblings.
She was the apple of her father Elkins Brathwaite’s eye and had a special relationship with her mother Angela Phillips, he recalled, adding that Brathwaite also played an active part in school life by accepting a number of leadership roles.
Although she was just 18, there was a lot that she accomplished during her relatively brief stay on earth of which her family was proud.
At school she was a prefect, president of the Students Council and president of the Next Generation Toastmasters Youth Leadership Programme. Outside the classroom she experimented with food and drinks, and participated in a number of culinary competitions including the Junior Duelling Challenge. And along with her mother, she won bronze in the NIFCA culinary competition.
Her enthusiasm for culinary arts drove Brathwaite to further her passion at the Barbados Community College Hospitality Institute from which she graduated.
Her uncle reminded the congregation that Brathwaite was also an aspiring model who made it to the semi-finals of this year’s Banks Calendar Girls competition before her untimely passing.
“On that Sunday morning on October , in the blink of an eye, Carey Rosemary Brathwaite was gone. An empty spot was left in our hearts,” Phillips said.
The four young women met their deaths when the car in which they were travelling crashed into a guard wall along Two Mile Hill, St Michael, not too far from where Brathwaite was buried.
Delivering the message, Reverend Mark Harewood said while the reality of the tragedy shook the entire country, those grieving must be assured that God, to whom they must look for comfort, offered his unconditional love.
He urged the congregation to reflect on the uncertainty of death and to cherish and develop relationships while they still had the opportunity to because life could end so quickly and without warning.
“Develop relations not only with our children, our siblings, with our friends and our colleagues, but develop our relationship with the Almighty,” Harewood preached.
There was silent weeping as Brathwaite’s casket disappeared into the grave. The tears trickled down the faces, especially of her former classmates with whom she had created bonds.
Her mother who remained composed throughout the service and burial proved that she was a strong soul.
Rashi Cummins, Brathwaite’s best friend who competed in Duelling Challenge competitions with her, assisted the gravediggers, stopping occasionally to shake his head in disbelief, still unable to fully comprehend why anyone, not least his best friend, could to die so young.
And even after the wreaths and flowers were laid, the pink balloons released and night set in, some of her friends remained gathered around the gravesite.