'I live on in sparkles in your heart'- Emma's final farewell
Best-selling author Emma Hannigan said there would "never have been enough time," in moving words she wrote before her death.
She bid a poignant farewell and thank you to her friends, family and loyal readers, following an 11-year cancer battle, at a packed service at Our Lady of Perpetual Succour Church, Foxrock, Dublin, yesterday.
Fr Gerry Byrne, the chaplain at the Blackrock Clinic where Emma (45) passed away last Saturday, told how she had asked him to officiate at her funeral service, and planned it with him.
The much-loved author asked him to read out the words she had prepared at the service.
"I have no regrets, only that I have to leave right now," Emma said in the poignant address.
"One thing is glaringly obvious, when it all comes down to the wire, all that matters is love. The love I have in my heart for the people who made my life worthwhile."
In the speech, she recalled her "idyllic" childhood, growing up in Bray with her brother Timmy, her schooling in St Gerard's and meeting her husband, Cian.
"We were simply meant to be together," she said.
She recalled how the couple had their two children - Sacha and Kim - before settling in a house beside her parents, and how "cancer hit for the first time in 2007."
She spoke lovingly about her close-knit family.
"Suffice it to say there was a constant line of communication between us and that set me up for whatever else life threw at my direction."
"I hope you know I will be there in your hearts, and you will always be in mine," she said.
Her wicker coffin was adorned with a picture of Emma, sparkly high-heeled shoes, one of her books and an angel, which her daughter Kim had made for her when she was in kindergarten.
"Yes, life was great, surrounded by my family and so many great friends," she continued.
"I can hold my head up and say that I never had a day where I felt lonely, or as if I had nobody to turn to. I never felt I was on my own.
"My cancer fight was up there for all to read on Facebook or through my blog.
"The peer-to-peer support I received there was priceless. I had such loyal readers and followers who took my hand and walked along by my side.
"They say all things happen for a reason.
"I don't want to go looking over my shoulder or waving my fist in anger. That was never my style. But the truth of the matter is this. I would never have wanted to go. There would never have been enough time. So I will try to be gracious about it."
In her address, the author said there is enough grey in the world already.
"Let the pink fluff and the sparkles break through. There is enough sadness, suffering and strife. Let the laughter be heard," she said.
"Farewell, look after each other. Be kind, be happy, be grateful and most of all, be yourself.
"Life is short, so very, very precious, and it's not a dress rehearsal, so enjoy each chocolate, drink strong coffee, have a fabulous glass of wine, and buy those clothes; walk in those high heels and let the world know that are here to work hard and to play even harder.
"Thank you all for making my life so amazing. I will watch over you, and please know that I am never truly gone. I will live on in the sparkles in your heart. Love always, Emma."
There was applause in the crowded church as Fr Byrne finished the address.
Some of the countries top writers, including Cathy Kelly and Claudia Carroll, attended the service, as well as TV3 host Elaine Crowley.
Fr Byrne described her as a "bright star that rose high and sparked brightly in her life."
She had picked the music for the service herself, with a harpist Aine Ni Dhubhghaill and flautist Ellen Cranitch playing songs including Time After Time by Cyndi Lauper.
Prayers of the Faithful were said for all those who cared for Emma all the years of her illness, her "other family" in the Blackrock Clinic.
"I don't want to go looking over my shoulder or waving my fist in anger. That was never my style.