Heartbreaking scenes as photo of newborn son brought to altar for mum who died after childbirth
One of the most poignant moments at the funeral mass for Tracey Campbell Fitzpatrick, who died following childbirth on Easter Monday, came when a photo of Max, her newly-born son, was carried to the altar.
The photo was brought forward by Tracey's grieving husband, Bernard, who later told mourners - in a message read on his behalf - that "from the moment I first laid eyes on Tracy my life was never the same".
In the message read at St. Anne's Church in the dead woman's home village of Shanvaghera, Knock. Co. Mayo, the young widower described his late wife's love as "unconditional" adding that she had "a get up and go attiude to life".
"Friend, wife, mother, I will love you always", the message concluded.
Mrs. Fitzpatrick, who lived with her husband, Bernard and two other children, Jamie and Adam, in Nurney. Co. Carlow, died at St. Luke's Hospital, Kilkenny, after giving birth to Max, a healthy baby boy.
Authorities at St. Luke’s have confirmed that an internal inquiry is underway into the 36-year-old’s death.
The remains were brought to Co. Mayo on Thursday to repose at the home of Tracey's parents, James and Pauline Campbell.
St.Anne's Church, where Tracey was baptised and married, was packed to overflowing for today's funeral Mass.
A local choir sang 'Candle in the Wind' as the coffin was brought to the altar.
Amongst the grieving mourners were Tracey's two other sons, Jamie and Adam, her parents, James and Pauline, her siblings, Alan, Amanda, Paula and Diane and her granny, Rita.
Fr. Pat Burke, the main celebrant of the funeral Mass in the absence of Knock parish priest Fr. Richard Gibbons who is in the United States at the moment on Shrine business, said the community was numbed by the death.
"We pray for Tracey", he said. "We are heartbroken at her death at such a young age".
Fr. Burke said Tracey, a bright young person, had packed much into her short life.
The curate recalled that she had given birth to Max on Monday morning, "a time of great joy and happiness".
Then he mused: "A maternity ward shoud be the happiest part of the hospital, new life every day, mothers doting over their newborn."
People were asking, Fr. Burke continued, how could this happen? How could it be true? It is too much to comprehend.
Amongst the Offertory gifts carried to the altar were a cushion signifying Tracy's interest in crafts and embroidery, a Leinster jersey signifying her move from Co. Mayo to another province, and a wooden flute given to her as a present on her wedding day.
Diane Campbell tearfully recalled for mourners her "caring, heartwarming, funny" sister who enjoyed her family and "would stick up for you even if you were wrong because we're family".
In a message which was read to mourners, Tracey's father, James, thanked her husband, Bernard, for "making her so happy.
The message continued: "Her (Tracey's) loss came like a bolt of lightning that exploded our heart into tiny fragments with excruciating pain that comes in waves with a razor sharp edge that has cut through every fibre of our being".
Following the Mass, the young mother's remains were brought to Knock Cemetery for burial.