'If only we could have you back for just a little while' - family of boy (3) killed in road collision
The small blue coffin of three-year-old boy Kai Corkum was carried from his funeral service to the sound of his favourite song Baby Shark in an emotional ceremony yesterday.
More than 100 mourners including Kai's parents Yasmine (26) and Michael (31), his grandparents and great-grandmother, filled the Newtownards funeral home in Co Down to mark the life of the youngster who died after being knocked down on the town's Movilla Road last Thursday.
Little Kai had been walking to the shop with his aunt Amanda Corkum (23) to get a lollipop when the collision occurred.
He was subsequently declared brain dead, and his family took the devastating decision to turn off his life-support on Friday.
A 21-year-old man arrested at the scene on suspicion of dangerous driving was released on police bail pending further enquiries.
The funeral home that hosted Kai's service was the same one in which the funeral of his little sister Lily-mai was held two years ago, after the baby girl passed away aged just 19 weeks.
She had been born with a heart condition and contracted pneumonia, which led to her death.
Kai's small coffin, upon which a teddy of his favourite Paw Patrol character Chase was placed, was carried in to the song Jealous Of The Angels.
During the service one of Kai's aunts read out a poem on behalf of his brothers Mason (4) and Tyler (6).
The first lines read: "The special memories of you Kai will always bring a smile.
"If only we could have you back for just a little while."
Rev Sue Bell told mourners that there was terrible grief over the tragedy.
"Many of you, like the family and like myself, were here almost two years ago, January 2017, when we celebrated an equally short life of Lily-mai," she said.
"And now today we're here for Kai.
"This grief is raw and it's painful, but don't hide it, go with it. There is no right way to grieve."
Rev Bell said there could not be a "greater contrast" than the Christmas season and the loss of a young life.
"At this time of year we are preparing on one hand to celebrate Christmas, when Jesus was born as a baby, and on the other hand we are here at the funeral of a young, vibrant boy, Kai, who has suddenly and tragically been taken away from his family, his friends and his community," she said.
She added that, since the incident, compassion had been shown through the "continued love and support from Kai's family towards Yasmine and Michael, Tyler and Mason".
"The times I've had dealings with them have been times of immense crisis," she said.
"That family bond, that loving bond, is very, very strong."
The minister also paid tribute to the love and support the family had received from friends, the community and staff at Chuckles nursery, where Kai attended.
And she acknowledged the "sensitive care of paramedics, doctors and nurses, and people at the scene of accident who tried to help Kai".
"There has been so much outpouring of compassion, this tragic event has touched the lives of so many, both here in Newtownards and beyond," she continued.
"And the reason for this is not just that Kai was part of a family and a community, but it's also because of the person that he was."
Rev Bell said Kai had "made a real impression on people" despite his young age.
"Kai had an infectious smile, it was something that Yasmine and Michael kept saying over and over again, this huge smiley face that he had, the cheeky personality, amazing energy.
"He was apparently on the go all the time.
"Michael said when Kai got up the whole house got up.
"No one was actually going to stay in bed if Kai was on his feet.
"It seems to me that for Kai, if the day had begun, then life was for living and he was going to live it to the full.
"There was a world out there and he wanted to explore it. He was fearless.
"Kai loved to order his day doing the things that he loved to do.
"How many of us wish we could live just like that, ordering our day from the moment we get up?
"He had so much life, so much energy and potential, and life truly will not be the same without him."
Rev Bell said that Kai is now in Heaven.
She added: "Kai is now held in the loving presence of Jesus, and he will enjoy the benefits of the resurrection - eternal life, which has within it the same fullness of life and more that Kai possessed and demonstrated while he was here.
"Life will never be the same again, and nor should it.
"Kai lived life, he was part of a family, he should be remembered.
"But there will be hope of life, a different life, a restored life."
Little Kai's coffin, painted in his favourite colour, was carried out of the church by father Michael and uncle Darren Corkum to the sound of his favourite song.
The funeral procession made its way around a route in the town, with mourners taking turns to carry the coffin and members of the public lining the route in sympathy.
The little coffin was then placed in the back of the hearse, which contained floral wreathes spelling out the words 'Son' and 'Brother', before being taken to Ballywalter's Whitechurch Cemetery, where Kai was laid to rest beside his baby sister Lily-mai.