Community grieves for Kayla (6) who 'wanted to stay small forever'
The young Co Meath schoolgirl who died from meningitis last week has been remembered at her funeral as a child who "wanted to stay small forever".
Kayla Carey (6) was laid to rest yesterday after her heartbroken family gathered in St Mary's Church, in Navan, to say their final goodbyes.
Her white coffin was carried into the church while Somewhere Over the Rainbow was sang by a soloist.
The little girl passed away last Thursday after battling the infection that has also hit a second girl from her school.
"Kayla had a lovely quiet way about her in class. A lovely heart that was so sensitive to the other children. Always wanting to see them happy and never in trouble," said Fr Kevin Heery.
"Kayla enjoyed being a young girl, and wanted to stay small forever.
"It breaks our heart to think her little aspiration came true, and we pray that heaven will unite us again."
He told how her senior infants class teacher in Scoil Mhuire, Ms Murray, loves to tell the children a story as part of their routine.
"Kayla - like all children - loved hearing good stories, and for Kayla, if it involved a unicorn it would probably be a great story.
"Words can't express the shock, grief and loss of why we are gathered here today. The sudden passing of Kayla last Thursday has shocked our community," said Fr Heery, adding that in numbness and pain the community prayed that Kayla's family's hearts could be blessed with peace.
He said Kayla had been at the beginning of her life, and so full of life, happiness and love, and that even the memories of her playing in the recent snow would add to the other precious memories since her birth.
A prayer was also said for a second girl from Scoil Mhuire who is still being treated for meningitis in Temple Street hospital in Dublin, the same hospital where Kayla died.
When the two girls became ill last week, all the students and staff of the school were sent home as a precaution.
Psychologists from National Educational Psychological Service have been brought into the school to provide support to teachers and parents.
Symbols brought to the altar to represent Kayla's life included one of her colourful drawings, a toy unicorn, and her boots.
After her funeral Mass, Kayla's dad Martin helped carry her coffin to the hearse, and leaned in to kiss it before breaking down in tears and being consoled by family and friends.
Burial took place in St Finian's Cemetery, Old Athboy Road, Navan.
Shortly after Kayla's death her mother Geraldine posted a message on Facebook.
"My little princess didn't make it. RIP Kayla, Mammy loves you and can't believe this," she said.
Kayla is also mourned by her brother Brooklyn and sister Faith, grandparents, aunts, uncles and extended relatives.
The HSE has said its medical experts are working closely with the school and are advising parents, guardians and teachers.
The school's principal Colm Devlin said Kayla's death will affect the entire community.
"This is a terrible tragedy for her family, our school and the whole community. We are deeply saddened," he said.
"Our sympathy and thoughts are with Kayla's family and friends."