Through tears and in a broken voice, the young partner of 23-year-old Reece Milner read a heartbreaking farewell to him at a packed funeral in Lurgan this morning.
Reece, who had just bought a house with his partner Riofach, died on Friday after being taken ill suddenly.
At his Requiem Mass in St Paul’s Church, Lurgan Priest Fr Colm Wright spoke of the intense sorrow and pain Reece’s family and friends were experiencing.
He spoke of how Reece had just bought a new home with his partner Riofach just seven months ago and were looking forward to a happy life with their young son Cianan.
He revealed how Reece had ordered a toy for little Cianan some time ago. As Fr Wright attended the family home this morning to bring Reece on his final journey, the toy arrived in the post.
“It was like a wee sign, Cianan, just to show how much he loved you. How very kind-hearted and good he was,” he said.
Reece and his partner Riofach were planning to get married. Bravely she read a poem at the lectern for her beloved Reece.
“My darling Reece I can’t even begin to describe how much you meant to me.
“You were and always will be my soulmate, my best friend and just my world.
“We had it all, a family, a home of our own, a dog and were making plans for our future together.
“It was an absolute joy to call you mine and for you to feel the same way about me was even better
“From the first day we spoke until the last you always told me how much I meant to you and made sure I had a smile on my face.
“You would have done anything to make that happen. Even if it involved embarrassing yourself.
“We always spoke about how we would be husband and wife one day and how our future would pan out.
“I would give anything to have you back in my arms but I know you were chosen for a reason.
“You have left a massive hole in a lot of people’s hearts with memories that will last forever.
“Thank you for coming into my life.
“You have changed our lives forever and I am grateful for you. I love you more than you will ever know. Until we meet again, love Riofach and Cianan.”
Fr Wright welcomed hundreds of people to the congregation at St Paul’s including those who were watching via the church’s webcam from England, USA and South Africa.
He acknowledged the hurt and sorrow they all felt.
“You have gathered here to say to Jesus just how hurt you all are, how afraid you are and how disappointed that you are at this time.
“You too had so many hopes and dreams about what the future was going to be like. The future of a young man, who along with Riofach, after hard, hard work, to be so young as a couple and after much saving they had just bought their first family home seven months ago.
“As a young family the three of them, Riofach, Reece and young Cianan were all just starting off together and it seemed that everything was falling into place.
“You are gathered here today to tell Jesus, what a wonderful, albeit a very short life that you had with Reece and how blessed you feel to have had this amazing young man in your lives.
“You gather also to think about what Reece might have done over the next number of years if he had lived.
“There were so, so many dreams. Riofach and Reece were going to get married. They were going to spend lots of time in their new family home with their son Cianan whom they both adore.
“And there were still so many things for them to accomplish - that they were so looking forward to.
“It was only the beginning for them.
“We gather also to say how angry you are. It is very natural to be angry and if we look through the psalms we see that people called out to God in their anger.
“We gather to say how angry we are that Reece was suddenly robbed of his health and his young, young life at only 23.
“Yet at only 23 he was so mature. He himself said that when his father Colm had the stroke and he was the only one left at home with his mother Dolores, he grew up and became a man overnight.
“You all feel downcast, depressed, robbed, betrayed. It’s so very sad. This is not what your plan was and it certainly was not what Reece’s plan was.
He said that death comes to all of us like a thief in the night and we are all guilty of thinking it is never going to happen to us.
Speaking to the congregation, the priest said it was Reece’s time to die but not yours. “You have still so much to do and so much to accomplish.”
“We said goodbye to Reece, who is a very unique and described as a very mischievous individual. I am told he was a great spokesperson and he was talking from he was no age.”
He spoke of Reece’s grandmother Ita and how much she enjoyed a laugh. “Reece loved a laugh too. He had a great sense of humour. He too enjoyed playing jokes on people. He too was kind-hearted.
“I love the story that he rescued a dog from the dog shelter. He picked it simply because it was the one that looked the saddest. Wee Cianan said to me in the house, ‘We saved the dogs life’. Isn’t that a beautiful way to put it.
“And this morning, there was a big toy arrived for Cianan that Reece had sent away for a while back and it just arrived this morning. It was like a wee sign, Cianan, just to show how much he loved you. How very kind-hearted and good he was.
“There is something awful about parents and grandparents burying their children. It feels so, so unnatural and there is something so sad about this young woman here on the front seat (Riofach) who met the love of her life in the last year at school.
“That’s where it all started in Lismore and it was only six years ago.
“And there is something so sad about having to let go and today to say your final goodbyes.
“As a couple, they were only in the honeymoon stage. It was all that cheesy romantic stuff. It was all hearts and flowers and constantly texting each other how much they loved each other.
“It is very hard to find any words Riofach, Dolores, Colm, Samir and Kellie. On behalf of everyone here, we are so sorry, so sorry for your loss and for what you are going through and what you will go through. We have no words. All we can do as a Christian community is support you, pray for Reece and pray for all of you. We do that for all of you with big open hearts.”
Reece Milner was the dearly beloved son of Colum and Dolores and loving brother of Samir and Kellie, and much loved partner of Riofach and son Cianan.
After his funeral a private service was held at Roselawn Crematorium.
His passing is very deeply regretted by his loving parents, brother, sister, partner, son, also Liz and Brendan, nephews Odhran and Aodhan and entire family circle. The family has asked for no flowers but donations in lieu if desired to I.C.U. Craigavon Area Hospital, Cheques made payable to SHSCT c/o Jack McLearnon & Son Funeral Directors 75 North Street, Lurgan BT67 9AH or donation box in the home.