Tuesday, January 24, 2023

Sophie Howard of Kilcohan Park, who died on December 29 last.

The sudden passing of Sophie Howard, late of Kilcohan Park, which occurred on December 29 last, cast a cloud of sadness over the local community.

Sophie came into the world on October 22, 2006, facing adversity from the get-go; she battled ill health and the complications arising from her cerebral palsy throughout her young life but never did she allow her disability define her.

She loved life, always so full of joy, which she spread with ease, stealing the hearts of all those she came into contact with. This was evident by the outpouring of support in the days following her passing, not only from family, friends and neighbours but from acquaintances and strangers too.

Sophie was surrounded by love in life and this love could be felt in abundance as she lay in repose at her much loved grandparents’ house, where she had often baked with Nanny Margaret and watched many a game show with her buddy, Grandad Paddy.

While she loved both dearly it was nowhere near enough for her to leave any of the baked goods created with Nanny behind when it was time to go home because she loved her grub that little bit more and was only ever prepared to share with her Daddy.

On the morning of January 4, neighbours and friends lined the street outside to accompany Sophie on her journey to The Sacred Heart Church and join in the service to celebrate her life.

Immense sadness

As the cortege turned the corner at the end of St Lawrence’s Terrace they were greeted by a sea of people, the immense feeling of sadness in the air was palpable and the silence of those gathered in grief deafening.

A guard of honour formed by girls from St Ursula’s Primary School lined the steps of the church adding further weight to an already poignant scene while also offering a warm reminder of the happy years Sophie spent there as a popular and adored student.

She had a genuine love of school, in particular the social side of it and when her health permitted her to attend she was always in the midst of activity.

The respectful silence was carried into the church as Father Jerry Chestnutt opened Sophie’s requiem mass with tokens of her life, which included a pair of trainers representing her love of fashion and her Thursday trips to Penney’s, arts and craft materials to symbolise her creativity and a figurine of ‘Bluey’, her favourite TV character – these were brought to the altar by family members who were led by Sophie’s younger sister Holly. Family members also delivered the readings and the Prayers of the Faithful, while heartfelt music was played throughout the service by Phil and Elaine Brennan, accompanied by Donna Roche and Róisin Temple. In his homily, Fr Chestnutt remarked on the feeling of deep sadness felt in the church and on how the silence and stillness of all present epitomised the grief felt at the loss of such a special child.

He spoke of Sophie’s mischievous character, her innate ability to communicate without the need for words and of how she has touched the life of so many in her 16 years, drawing them in with her infectious smile and her bright eyes.

Gratitude

These sentiments were reiterated by her cousins, Lauren and Leah Quilty when they gave their eulogies towards the end of the mass. They also shared how grateful they were to have had Sophie in their lives; at the very centre of their family and of how she had taught them so much – how to be strong, how to find joy in life and how to love.

They recalled the fun times they had together creating TikTok’s, how Sophie had loved music and was at her happiest when she was dancing. As the mass drew to a close, the heavy feeling of grief was matched only by that of love as the words of Pink’s “Cover Me In Sunshine” were carried throughout the church.

Outside, person after person could be heard remarking on Sophie’s inherent ability to steal your heart, how her gorgeous smile and sparkling eyes lit up every room she was in, how she had a contagious kind of happiness that infected all around her. All of which were true, even following nine weeks in Crumlin’s ICU three years ago Sophie was always smiling, always with that glint of happiness in her eyes.

Close family and friends escorted Sophie on her final journey to Cork, where they said their goodbyes following a beautiful ceremony full of light, love and music. And while the hearts of all present ached, the words of Maroon 5’s “Memories” reminded them that it wasn’t truly goodbye, that the “memories bring back you” and that Sophie would always be in their hearts.

A remarkable young lady

Sophie was a remarkable young lady, who exuded a love of life, radiated happiness and brought a light to the world that few people ever do. She was brave with a strength that was deserving of admiration. Her legacy is the joy she spread that now resides in the hearts of those who knew her, loved her and mourn her loss. No one feels that loss more than her parents Roseanne and Jamie and her sister Holly. That loss as expressed below in Roseanne’s own words is heart-breaking.

“Sophie was our entire world and we were hers too. She needed us from the minute she woke up in the morning till she went to sleep at night. What she didn’t realise is that we needed her all that time too. We did everything together and the strength she showed to get through the daily battles she had gave us the strength to help her. Not a minute passed throughout her sixteen years where I didn’t love her unconditionally and I know when she looked back at me with her mischievous eyes she loved me unconditionally too.

“Every single day for 16 years she fought a fight she didn’t ask to be in. She overcame adversity and prejudice and still she smiled like the world was hers and that made us smile because she was ours. She was a daughter, a big sister, a granddaughter, a cousin, a niece and a friend. Everyone who ever met Sophie is blessed to have known her and I as her mother am the most blessed of all. I had her for 16 years before she got her wings and she made me the woman that I am. I’ll miss her every single day, I’ll hurt every single day and I’ll carry that hurt with me until I meet Sophie again.”

‘Sophie was a daughter, a big sister, a granddaughter, a cousin, a niece and a friend.’

A tribute to a sister loved

I see you sister as you look straight ahead,

I’m looking wondering what’s going through your beautiful head,

How do you feel, what is it you see, in there is there thoughts of me,

Thoughts of Mam, thoughts of Dad, one thing I’m certain is you were never sad.

We love you Sophie,

Holly, Mam & Dad X

Sophie will be forever missed by her loving family and indeed all who loved her. May she Rest In Peace.

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