Anastasia Cunningham, News Coordinator
Fighting back the tears and desperately struggling to contain their emotions, a packed assembly hall inside the Church of God of Prophecy on Old Harbour Road in St Catherine raised their voices yesterday in celebration of the life of three-year-old Xyhir Adjmal Ince.
Many fought with a determined spirit to rejoice that "an angel had gone home", that baby Xyhir was no longer suffering from the agony of the cancer that was tearing his little body apart.
Pastor André Bennett did not give the audience an opportunity for sombre mourning. He kept the service on fire, leading a spirited Pentecostal service inside the church hall that kept the congregation on their feet.
"For someone who came for three short years, he led three long, fruitful years," said Bennett.
"Xyhir never saw his situation or circumstance, he only saw the God who kept him. He came, he conquered and he left his legacy. He has left us encouraged. He was an inspiration to many around the world."
In the many tributes paid, baby Xyhir was remembered for his strong faith in God at his young age, especially amid his immense suffering with trilateral retinoblastoma.
Several persons shared that God put Xyhir on earth for a purpose, which he has fulfilled and now he has gone back home. His life has rekindled their faith, they declared.
Despite the effort, it was hard for the congregants to hold back the tears as young children from various institutions paid touching tributes in their tiny voices, noting how blessed they were to have known Xyhir.
The toddlers from the Hydel Group of Schools, Salvation Army School for the Blind and Visually Impaired, Little Feet Kindergarten and Dunrobin Primary School, as well as teenagers from the Pembroke Hall High School, bid farewell to Xyhir in vocal, dance and musical tributes.
"Goodbye, Xyhir, my friend. Until we meet again," bid little Samuel from the Salvation Army School for the Blind.
Family friend Sherene McKinley spoke of the three-year-old's charm, charisma, loving spirit, intelligence and no-nonsense attitude.
"Don't let his age fool you," said McKinley. "He was a serious, no-nonsense little man who always said what was on his mind. He had strong political views and he made it known."
McKinley also spoke about him being the little ladies' man who had "the ladies wrapped around his little finger".
Xyhir's uncle, Elon Parkinson, urged the gathering to let his story be one of forming a common bond, of "us as humans taking care of each other".
Born August 16, 2009, Xyhir lost his battle with cancer on November 20. Diagnosed with trilateral retinoblastoma when he was only a few months old, he eventually lost his sight when both eyeballs were surgically removed.
Earlier this year, the cancer progressed into tumours in his brain and left eye socket. His parents tried desperately to save his life, and following the publication of his story in The Sunday Gleaner on November 11, and touched by his angelic faith amid his suffering, countless persons from around the world responded to the call with love, support, prayers and funds to help with his medical treatment.
On November 19, the three-year-old suffered a mild stroke and was rushed to the Bustamante Hospital for Children where he died the following day.
Xyhir's body was interred at the Meadowrest Memorial Gardens in St Catherine.