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Ophelia Lewis... gone to a better place

AINSWORTH MORRIS Life Tributes writer morrisa@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, July 29, 2012    

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In mid June when 19-year-old Ophelia Lewis began feeling ill and was admitted to the Kingston Public Hospital, family members, close friends and classmates never imagined they would be mourning her death in less than a month.

Lewis, who was described as a caring, jovial, energetic, humble, loving, and respectful girl died on July 2 after falling in and out of a coma at the hospital.

Her thanksgiving service was held at the Church of God Holiness located on Upper Regent Street in Denham Town, Kingston, on July 22, twenty days after she died.

With the service scheduled to start at 2:00pm mourners were still, close to 3:00pm, queuing to view the deceased for the final time.

After officiating minister, Reverend GG Byfield, ordered the casket closed and proceeded with opening hymn Blessed Assurance, it became a painful occasion.

Schoolmates, relatives and most of all, family members cried openly during the opening hymn.

Emotions grew even stronger as the tributes were being offered.

Reflecting on Lewis's life, Naheema Daniels, principal of St Anne's Career Advancement Programme, hailed her for being "a girl with a vision, being a respectful young lady and a leader amongst her peer groups at St Anne's".

Lewis attended the institution in the last academic year before she became ill.

"She was honest, respectful and loving. She had a good relationship with her teachers and classmates alike. We give thanks for her life. The school has lost a privileged student," Daniels said of Lewis, who was pursuing a cosmetology course.

Jennifer Edwards, a teacher at St Anne's echoed Daniels' sentiments.

"Ophelia was a special and dear student to me. When I first met her, she seemed to be totally focused to achieve the goals of the programme. She displayed discipline and was a model student. She was a good listener and was one to make peace," said Edwards.

"I remember once when an excitement was going on outside and everyone rushed out (of class), she came up to me and asked if she could go," said the teacher, who was touched by Lewis's respectful gesture.

Edwards added that Lewis was competent in English language, but most of all, the subject of her liking was cosmetology.

"She was a remarkable young lady who was different from the other students. If we had more children like her in the system, the system would be so much better. Let us use her life as an example," she said.

In addition to being enrolled at St Anne's Career Advancement Programme, Lewis worked with Jones Funeral Home as a morgue attendant.

Offering the eulogy, close friend, Nicole Pottinger, remembered Lewis, affectionately called 'Ophie', as a girl who lived a short, but wonderful life.

She said Lewis "was a very determined person who pushed for what she wanted" and "loved everyone who came across her".

Pottinger said Lewis was truly on a career path in cosmetology, printing flyers for her service with images of a hair blow dryer, decorated nails and other creations of cosmetologists.

"Ophie loved doing hair and nails. Ophie could do a million hair and nails, and wouldn't be tired. I know if she saw us crying, she would tell us to stop crying because God wants us to be in Heaven doing the Angel's hair and eyelashes," said Pottinger, to which mourners erupted in laughter.

Lewis is survived by her parents, Adassa Kelly and Paul Lewis, six siblings other relatives and friends.

She was interred in May Pen Cemetery in Kingston.

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