A sombre mood spread across the People’s Cathedral Wednesday afternoon as family, friends and loved ones gathered for a service of thanksgiving for the life of Chante Natasha Yarde, a young woman whose uncle said “could not help but take to heart the world’s unkindness”.
The 16-year-old St Ursula’s student was found by her mother on February 3, hanging from a rafter at their Mission Gap, Brittons Hill, St Michael home.
Grief and sadness were etched on the faces of those who gathered as they seemingly agreed with the lyrics of a song by one of Chante’s favourite singers, the late Michael Jackson, that she was gone too soon.
As Chante’s body reposed in a baby pink casket adorned by a single wreath, she was described by her uncle Keith Yarde Jr, who delivered her eulogy, as a kind soul who loved to talk once she was in a place of comfort.
“She was quite reserved. But at home, or wherever else she felt comfortable, she was quite the talker with an excellent command of the English language. She could go forth and talk about any topic. By all means, she was a polite young lady with a ready ‘hello’ and ‘good morning’ for her neighbours and for those who passed along the way, ” he said.
Yarde remembered his niece as having a very sharp mind and tongue.
“Just last year, Chante asked for a fluffy pencil case. While her parents sought to find that pencil case, it came to light that she was already the owner of three pencil cases. When asked if this was so, she answered without hesitation, ‘Kevin talks too much’,” he recalled.
Yarde said Chante’s quick mind afforded her great academic success, adding that it was always amazing to see how quickly she would catch up at school after a period of absence.
“Academically, Chante had a passion for the sciences, even while expressing her artistic side through essay writing. She wanted to outdo her brother Kevin and go on to university studies as her brother had done. She loved to study and had an insatiable hunger for knowledge. If, however, you were explaining something and went into more detail than Chante thought necessary for her to grasp the concept, she would jokingly help you out with her trademark phrase, ‘moving right along’,” he said with a slight chuckle.
In seeking to show the passion Chante had for her studies, Yarde recalled a recent situation where she was adamant she would not miss school.
“Her school shoes gave out unexpectedly and she faced the prospect of missing a day from school while replacements were sought. Chante announced, ‘I am going to school, even if in sandals’, and she did just that.”
Apart from excelling at her studies, Yarde said the teenager was a stickler for punctuality and was kind and gracious to all. However, he added, due to her introspective disposition, she did not readily engage in conversation with those she did not know well.
“Her comfort zone was more on the edge of her social circle than in the centre. It is ironic that her desire to avoid the spotlight was so strong that it seemed often to thrust her directly there – in the very place she yearned most to avoid.”
Yarde said Chante was like any other child, yet she was different and wanted nothing more than to be accepted.
“In the time and at an age where fitting in is the thing, this shy, sensitive solitary bird could not help but take to heart the world’s unkindness. This was especially so if it was perceived to come from those in whom she had placed her hard-won trust,” the eulogist added.
“So, precious bird, with outstretched wings soaring into the sky, not bound by earth’s entrapments now at last, unfettered, fly.”
Reverend Wilma Gill, who delivered the sermon, told the congregation that included Chante’s classmates, that God had a plan for their lives.
“God is aware of what is happening in your life as an individual and he has a plan for your life, young people, and the devil only comes to try to steal, to kill and destroy. But if God is for you, who can be against you? As long as there is God, there is hope. Hope in God will enable you to go forward in difficult circumstances. It will enable you to go forward with a quiet disposition and continue in steadfast faith,” she told them.
Gill also urged those in the congregation to mend relationships before it was too late.
“Learn to say, ‘I am sorry’ and, ‘I forgive you’. Let’s learn to mend the broken fences in our relationships. Life is brief; at the end of life what matters most is the things we do that have eternal value,” she added.