Three siblings who died in a fire at their home in Rookery Nook, Maraval, on July 26, were laid to rest after a funeral service yesterday.
Ezekiel Burke, 17, Faith Burke, 6 and Kayden Burke, 3, died in the fire.
At the Church on the Rock in Morvant, Reverend Benjamin Agard brought up a question that may have been on the minds of many.
Yesterday, as family members bid them farewell at the church, Agard begged them not to turn their backs on God.
“The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away. As painful as it is, life does not end here on planet Earth.”
As their father Troy Burke sat with his face buried in his hands, church elder Cuthbert Tracey told him that he could take some solace in knowing that Ezekiel, who was a member of the Trinidad and Tobago Cadet Force, died a hero.
In fact, Tracey said, he should be given a posthumous award for his bravery.
“I would nominate him for a national award because I can see this young man as not only being trapped in the fire but making a desperate attempt to save his siblings and in the effort, lost his life. That is very sacrificial and it is a good opportunity to recognise this young man.”
Another relative said she asked Ezekiel to always look after his siblings and he did just that up to his death.
“You did just what I told you, to look after your sisters and brothers and you are my hero,” an aunt who was introduced as Ms Rodriguez said.
Many paid tribute to the 17-year-old, including the Blanchisseuse Secondary School principal Hashim Johnson, who said his death had now left them hollow.
“Because of his well-mannered nature, he was well-loved by all his teachers and we noticed the transformation of a shy boy to an assertive exemplary young man,” Johnson said.
Meanwhile, family members remembered the inseparable bond that Faith and Kayden shared.
“Kayden always loved his sister Faith. They slept together and did everything together. Kayden was always joyful and would have everyone busy running after him, down to the doubles vendors running to look after him,” Rodriguez said.
Faith was also remembered by her teacher Jolean Johnson, of the Great Minds Academy, as a ‘gem of bravery’ who was fondly referred to by her father as his ‘little mama.’
“Faith had a personality that was as bright as the morning sun. When she smiled, you had no choice but to smile too.”
Minister of Social Development and Family Services Donna Cox was one of the very few in attendance, as the family asked that well-wishers view the funeral virtually.
Cox said the country shared in the family’s grief. In urging the family to express their sadness and not bottle up their emotions, Cox reminded them that her ministry stands ready to lend them the emotional support they need.
All three siblings were buried at the Western Cemetery along George Cabral Street in Port-of-Spain. Pink and blue balloons were released into the air in their memory.
As the family said their final goodbyes, Reverend Agard reminded them, “One of these days, these children will be reunited with their parents.”