No smiling, dancing little girl should ever have a funeral at age 6.
The sky seemed to agree today. Above enormous, multi-winged Deliverance Evangelistic Church at 2001 West Lehigh Avenue, as nearly 800 mourners streamed in to say good bye to Aaliyah Tysheria Sernora Griffin- the first of last week's four victims of the Feltonville car massacre to be buried-a dark, somber sky remained in place throughout the 2-and-a-half-hour ceremony, as if in apology for the tale unfolding within.
But that was not the message inside. There, as Aaliyah's extended family repeatedly sobbed and embraced, speakers invoked God's will, Jesus's love, and the memory of a young charmer who, all seemed agreed, was now entertaining her new hosts in heaven.
In the well of Deliverance's majestic auditorium, as a processional began the order of service, Aaliyah lay in an open white coffin, a tiara on her head. Above, inscribed on the wall, were the words of Matthew 11:28: "Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy-laden, and I will give you rest."
More than one mourner, on leaving the coffin, said exactly the same thing: "She looks like a little princess."
Above her head to the left, along with other floral arrangements, sat one that spelled out, in large letters, "Pooka"- Aliyasha's nickname. Another depicted a little girl's handbag. At each side of the coffin, two of Deliverance's nurses stood, holding tissue boxes, a regular part of the ministry that got heavy use.
But if the sky suggested contrition, the message within was different. There, as Aaliyah's extended family repeatedly sobbed and embraced, one speaker after another, sometimes to the bacground of hymns, invoked God's will, Jesus's love, and the memory of a young charmer who, all agreed, was now entertaining her new hosts in heaven.
After the service Aaliyah was buried in Mount Peace Cemetery.
Funerals for the three other crash victims will be held this week. Services for Gina Rosario, 7, will be held Thursday morning. The funeral for Latoya Smith, 22, and her 11-month-old daughter, Remedy, will be Friday.
A fundraiser last night for the four victims raised $12,000, which will be distributed to their three families to help cover the costs of the funerals.