A respectful, quiet and supportive funeral offered comfort to the family of three of the victims of last week's Smithfield tornadoes. "There is unity in community," said Pastor David Mayo of the Cornerstone Baptist Church. He offered solace in scripture for family and friends of Kimberly Hilliard, her 4 month old daughter Paris and her 70 year old Aunt Virginia Warner.
"I took the example that Christ left all of us, Let not your hearts be troubled. The way to beat a troubled heart is to have peace," said Pastor Mayo in recalling his words in an interview after the service. "The way to have peace is to have your eternity settled. Kimberly and Virginia had both settled their relationship with God. With that peace they were settled at passing."
Mayo described the service as simple, but he felt certain it offered comfort to the family. He took time in his eulogy to talk about the full life of Virginia Warner. The life that was in its prime of Kimberly Hilliard. And, the life that was just beginning for little Paris.
"He wasn't doing anything out of anger or taking anything away from folks," the Pastor said referring to the EF-2 tornado that proved deadly in the rural Madison County town. "He was providing safe haven in the care of her mother in the presence of Jesus."
Pastor Mayo understands the challenge the family and community faces in trying to understand how a 4 month old child is allowed to die such a tragic death. During the service he told those who filled the church until there was standing room only that God loves children and has welcomed Paris to be with her mother.
Pastor Mayo has spent significant time with the surviving family members over the last week. He said today,
"The grandparents are thrilled to know the little one is with their daughter and in the presence of the Lord."
As he reflected after the funeral service on the death of the child he shared a thought by which others can live. "None of us know our tomorrows... Yet to see somebody pass who we have hardly had a chance to get to know. We just wonder why?"
Some sixty cars were part of the funeral procession that ended with the burial in a cemetery in Peterboro.