One month ago, a weeping Maxine Lashley watched as the casket carrying the body of her 21-year-old son Romario Lashley was lowered into his final resting place at the St Thomas Parish Church burial ground.
Around 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, the 50-year-old Lashley was laid to rest next to her son, who was shot and killed by police on July 26 while on the run after being accused of shooting and wounding an officer.
Mourners watched in silence as Lashley’s surviving sons Kyle and Kareem helped fill the grave, sticking to the task until the job was done to their satisfaction. Then they created a neat and tidy bed, as if to suggest she would rest in peace.
The colours of the wreaths at their brother’s gravesite were fading, but they were still in tact.
Some mourners had to be consoled as they cried openly for the Downes Gap, Arthur Seat, St Thomas resident who died at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital on August 25, after loosing a battle with cancer. Relatives said the cancer had been in remission, but returned aggressively after Romario death.
Family members took their last glimpse of Lashley’s body as she lay in the casket at the Mount Olive Church of America in Carrington Village, St Michael. It was there that she had given Romario his last kiss.
The hour-long service was fitting for the mother of four who was described as a caring individual who always poured her heart out to God when looking for strength to fight her battles.
One of the highlights of the service was when Lashley’s last child, nine-year-old Rashauna, stood before the packed congregation and sang her mother’s favourite gospel song, accompanied by her schoolmate Hannah. She then said goodbye to “my beautiful mother”.
In reading the eulogy, Kareem fought back tears as he described his mother as the first woman he and his brothers had learned to love, even before they knew what love was.
With Kyle standing at his side, Kareem said there was never a task too cumbersome, nor a sacrifice too great for Lashley to make for her children.
“She did the best that she could for each and everyone of us, and sometimes even when we ourselves had assumed that she had done all that she could, she would surprise us and do a lot more,” he said.
Kareem noted that his mother was also a firm believer in God and would often tell him when he was a child that there was only one person she loved more than her children, and that was God. He said there was a time he was a little jealous of God because He had held the number one spot in his mother’s heart.
“Her faith never wavered. She would keep praying and praising God through the years and was often the one to step in; and when we were suffering from a crisis of faith and, as she used to say, ‘stand in the breach’ for us and hold back the floodwaters,” an emotional Kareem said as he paused to compose himself.
“Even when tragedy struck and we lost our brother in July, never once did she cry out and ask God why, nor did she blame him for her loss, but rather she thanked him. She thanked him for blessing her with her son; thanked him for the 20 years of my brother’s life, then she cried,” he continued as Kyle held him.
Delivering the sermon was Hubert Kirton, who had also shared words of wisdom at Romario’s funeral service.
Kirton remarked that it must be difficult for relatives to have to return to the same setting to say goodbye to another loved one in the space of one month.