One word on Tassanique James' casket summed up the mood of the mourners: 'irreplaceable'.
Residents of west Kingston, particularly Denham Town, say the Clan Carthy Primary School student, who was gunned down on Emancipation Day, will not readily be forgotten.
Scores attended her funeral yesterday and lamented the extinguishing of a life that held much promise.
There was regret at the grade six desk she never got to use; the high school and university she would never attend; and the profession she would not get to pursue.
Member of Parliament Desmond McKenzie bemoaned that Tassanique "could have gone on to be another great person coming out of the constituency."
Home once more
In a touching gesture by the Simpson's Funeral Home, her little pink and white casket was carried to the place she once called home. Residents who probably figured they would be less comfortable in the Regent Street Seventh-day Adventist Church, used this opportunity to say their goodbyes.
Anyone who encroached on the casket was rapped on the knuckles and heavily chastised for doing so. Young and old peered sombrely at the slain youngster peacefully resting in her red and white dress; a few stuffed animals to keep her company.
At the church, tears flowed as tributes came in song and poetry. Her cousin Tashawna Harrison remembered her "precocious" relative who was nicknamed 'Dana' and 'Pooh Bear'. Fighting to stay composed, she remembered Tassanique as a "little mother" who never shirked her share of the chores.
"She was always in charge and would see to the care of her siblings," she said. "Mind you, as little and as young as she was, she would demand and always got the respect from her brothers." She opined that Tassanique exhibited a maturity and attitude that belied her age.
"She never let the circumstances of her life dictate where she was heading," she said. "She had big dreams to fill and no one, no one, was going to stop her." Fate decided otherwise. Harrison asked the gathering to remember her cousin's happy smile, laughter, and her kind ways and words.
"Today I will remember my cousin as the pride and joy of our family. The little girl with the big heart."