Seven-year-old Cariss Dempster, whose life was claimed by cancer, was described as ‘a wee ray of sunshine’ at her funeral last week.
Hundreds of mourners gathered at Dromore’s Banbridge Road Presbyterian Church last Thursday in support of Cariss’s parents , Noel and Elaine, her sister Korin (10) and the wider family circle.
Joanne Coen (45) Cariss’s captain at First Dromore Girls’ Brigade described her as “a wee ray of sunshine” and “a little ball of light that danced into the room”.
Touched by her illness, fellow members had raised money for the Cancer Fund for Children, and Mrs Coen herself had run the Dublin marathon in September.
“She was an inspiration, because I am not a runner!” said Mrs Coen.
A tiara was placed on Cariss’ coffin, reflecting the fact that her family saw her as a “little princess”.
Two songs were played during the service: ‘Jesus Wants Me For A Sunbeam’ and ‘Jesus Loves Me, This I Know’.
In his address to mourners at Banbridge Road Presbyterian Church the Rev Gary Trueman remarked on how “fitting” the first song was.
“Cariss was a ray of sunshine who made us all feel happy,” he said.
“When she entered a room she radiated a contagious joy.
“Even in the midst of treatment (whether that was chemotherapy or radiotherapy) or, in the immediate aftermath of surgery, Cariss’ life shone with a brilliance for all to see.
“And when Jesus took her by the hand and led her through the gates of Heaven on Tuesday afternoon I can just imagine that energy and love for fun that she had, expressing itself in her singing and dancing through the streets of glory.”
Dromore Central Primary School pupil Cariss had suffered from neuroblastoma – a rare form of cancer which develops from nerve cells and mainly affects young children.
The Rev Trueman added: “This afternoon as we meet to worship God and honour and celebrate Cariss’ life (a life with so much potential), I know many of us are asking the question in our minds, ‘How could this happen to such a young and happy person?’
“Folks, there are no easy answers – God alone knows, and He cares about each one of us, and His heart is tender towards us.
“I wish from the bottom of my heart that I had a wonderful remedy that would take away all your pain.
“But I don’t.
“All I know is that Jesus loves you and you can depend on Him even when you’re asking ‘why?’ and your doubt level is high.”
The service ended with the playing of a track called ‘In The Arms of an Angel’, which contains the lyrics: “Shine, little star, go on shine / Show us that you’re doing fine / And even in darkness, your light makes us see / In the arms of an angel you’re free.”