Accident victim put to rest
An emotional funeral service was held today for Abijah Ijestic Holder-Phillips, who died in a car accident on June 26 on his way home from his school graduation.
Shortly after the boy’s mother, Felisha Holder, delivered a moving eulogy, speaking gloriously about her dead son, the boy’s clearly upset father took to the podium and accused Holder of failing to allow him to speak at the service, which was being held at Coral Ridge Memorial Chapel.
His tirade lasted less than a minute, as the sound system was turned off, and his “brethren” who were in charge of the service asked him to take his seat.
That did not go down well with the angry father who, followed by some members of the congregation, walked out, complaining loudly that he felt disrespected.
It was just about 1p.m. by then, and, with the service over, the pall-bearers hurriedly carried the white casket, with a blue and white satin interior, to the burial site.
There, the father had to be calmed down once by family members and friends, and at one time had to be restrained, as he again vented his frustration.
Meanwhile, the more composed mother, comforted by loved ones, stood quietly some distance from Phillips, and ensured the burial continued, despite the loud murmurs and chattering voices commenting on what had transpired.
Minutes later the police arrived with sirens blaring, and had a conversation with Holder. It was not immediately clear what they discussed, but soon after their arrival, the tension eased, and the father requested, and was granted, an opportunity to speak.
In his brief remarks, the grieving dad thanked those who turned up to pay their last respects to his son, and apologized for his behaviour. However, he again complained of being treated with disrespect.
“I am grateful for everything that you all have done. I give so much thanks and praises. All I did want to say is something pertaining to my son’s passing.
“It was pure disrespect to sound a voice pertaining to my son and the [micro]phone get shut down from before me. The people that do it supposed to be my brothers and sisters. It ain’t no person that ain’t got no locks, and that is disrespect,” he said, before offering a prayer.
Abijah received an unusual funeral in the form of a Rastafarian ritual that included chanting and the burning of incense. The priest and members of his church covered their heads with black cloth, while some of the men wore the rastafarian colours.
Before delivering the eloquent eulogy, Holder told the mourners who crammed the chapel, she was aware that what they had witnessed was unusual, but the rites and worship ceromony was one of rejoicing for her “sun” who had lived a perfect life of unconditional love for “man, animal and all living things on earth”.
She described the former Welches Primary School student – whose schoolmates sang two selections at the service – as inquisitive, saying he did not hold back his many questions about nature.
Holder, who was driving the car when the accident occurred, said Abijah was very close to his teenaged sister, Ibrel, who was injured in the same accident.
With Ibrel sitting in a wheelchair in the audience, Holder said the siblings were always in each other’s company, and could be found “talking up a storm” or wearing each other’s clothing.
She spoke of Abijah’s “sound knowledge” of plants which often meant giving advice about what could be used for colds, or what leaf his teacher could place beneath her desk to drive away mosquitoes.
“I will miss his face and his smile and his warmth and his kindness, [and his] love. Even though I used to be quarreling about the caterpillars in the bottle and the lizards that he catch, I will miss everything about him,” said the mother, who insisted that death was finite, and that her tears were not of mourning.
She said she wished she was able to see her son grow into a good, loving man, but at the same time, noted that he had lived a good life.
“Let us imagine that Abijah has just gone away physically, because that is all really that it is. His spirit lives in our memories and our hearts. I know that is what it will be for me because I was the person . . . at the football matches, everything.”
At the gravesite, the mother released two doves and, side by side, they soared, until they disappeared.