THERE were a few cheerful moments, but the tragic reality that brought together relatives and friends of Tandy Lewis — the postal worker killed in October — cast a pall over her funeral at the St Richard of Chichester Roman Catholic Church yesterday.
"Having spent much time talking to mutual friends and family, and recollecting what my dear friend told me of her early life, I can confirm that between ages seven and 16, Tandy slept," said Tandy's friend Alistair Scott, who read her eulogy during the touching service held at the Red Hills Road church in St Andrew.
"In between slumber, however, grades three to five, she sucked her finger, woke up briefly in grade six, and passed her Common Entrance, earning a place at Old Harbour High School where she managed to become a rather involved student, fitting debating and Key Club easily beside impressive grades," continued Scott, to hearty chuckles from the congregation.
According to Scott, Lewis blossomed from a seven-year-old struggling to read, to an active Caribbean Institute of Media and Communication (CARIMAC) student, before taking up positions at the Gleaner newspaper and the Jamaica Post and Telecommunications Department.
She was a strong individual he said, battling cancer in her twenties when most of her peers were busy thinking about the next party. She was a little dynamo with a big voice, features which earned her the nickname, 'Tandimo', he continued.
"The last month of Tandy's short, but impactful life was spent with a fair bit of joy and nervous excitement of another challenge... one of the last things she excitedly said to me was, 'Can you believe it, I am going to be somebody's mommy'" he said, the reminder that she was pregnant when she was killed, sending ripples of sorrow through the congregation.
"Her family and friends were all waiting to see her master this challenge. A pleasurable one, for a change. It was not to be, though, and our dear friend, sister, colleague, was taken from us by that monster of crime which stalks our land on October 17, 2012," he said.
Two weeks after Lewis went missing, on October 30, investigators confirmed that a body found partially burned in Port Royal, Kingston was hers. The 30-year-old was four months pregnant.
Yesterday, Monsignor Michael Lewis, who officiated the funeral service, blasted the culture of silence he said many Jamaicans had adopted in the face of rampant crime and violence.
"As a society we have become numb to a lot of the violence that is around us. Our attitude is one where hearing things like this, for many of us, is normal and we accept it," he said. "Because of the great fear that we live in, we choose to adopt an attitude that we don't see or hear anything; we ignore violence as if it doesn't exist, we view corruption as part of life and we participate in it," he continued.
"This ought to be one of those rallying points for people to say, 'enough of this foolishness'. We must begin to speak out more, not only with words but with our lives. We need to stand up now. This must be stopped," Monsignor Lewis told the congregation, some of its members nodding in approval.