‘A free spirit full of love’

Emma McLaughlin pictured with her daughter Hope.
Emma McLaughlin pictured with her daughter Hope.

Emma McLaughlin was a free spirit who lived a thousand lives in her own short life, mourners were told yesterday.

A beautifully evocative eulogy was read out on behalf of Emma’s relatives following the conclusion of Funeral Mass at St Patrick’s Church in Pennyburn yesterday.

The popular 37-year-old passed away on Monday after a 14-year battle with a brain tumour.

Those gathered were told: “There is beauty in life that it is impossible to really capture with words; the dancer in the dance; the flit of a butterfly; the ripple and grace of a wild horse.

“So it was with Emma, words fail. All that can be done on this the saddest of days is let some of the words gathered from you all, float out there and bounce off your memories of a free spirit whose like we will never meet again.

“It was our privilege to know Emma, to bask in her glow, to be drawn into her dance, to be locked into her eyes that radiated pure, unconditional love.

“Her love was drawn from a well so deep, a heart so big that no illness, not even death itself could stem its flow.”

Mourners were told that there was neither justice nor fairness in the hand that Emma was dealt in life.

“A hand that was unrelentingly hard and painful by any standard, yet out of that hand she forged something incredible, gave a planet full of hugs, smiled a universe of smiles.

“What has come to pass has broken the hearts of those who love her, but like wonderful beautiful Emma, like wild horses, we must be true to the legacy of her resilient spirit and emerge unbroken.”

Numerous anecdotes peppered through the eulogy recalled the special person Emma was in life, the joy she brought her family and the gift she passed on to all who knew her.

Tributes her also paid to her devoted partner Harry and the couple’s much loved young daughter Hope.

As well as her love of dancing and horses, her smile , her light, enthusiasm for life and warmth towards everyone, specific incidents humorous were recalled, including Emma’s escapades with her best friend Sha Gillespie. Those gathered were told: “Not being allowed to drive anymore didn’t stop Emma’s adventures, like the time they drove to a party with Emma directing Sha in the dark. All was going well until Sha could hear the long grass under the car and they were faced with a mountain goat at the window. Shrieking with laughter the two of them, Emma admitted she had absolutely no idea where they were.”

“Emma was a gift to us all,” those gathered were told.