BALLOONS carrying messages of love and appreciation were released into the skies above Raheen Church this Monday afternoon by friends of an 11-year-old girl who lost her battle with cancer.
Becky Macauley, who wrote a book about her experiences called The Little Girl with the Big Headache, passed away at her home in Ashling Heights, Raheen, last Friday. Her parents, Mary and Mike, and sister Rachel were by her side.
A number of Becky’s friends from Limerick Celtics Basketball Club penned messages on the balloons before releasing them in the air as her wicker coffin was carried by her father Mike and other family members from her local church after Mass of the Angels was celebrated.
Fr Eamonn Fitzgibbon of Raheen parish told mourners how the basketball club had honoured Becky’s bravery when they presented her with a shirt numbered 55 – in recognition of the number of stitches Becky received after undergoing surgery.
Fr Fitzgibbon spoke of how the story of a brave girl fighting the fight of her life, captured the imagination and hearts of the Irish public last week – the story of boxer Katie Taylor - “while in the same week someone who stole a lot of hearts around here was also fighting her own fight.”
“She was literally fighting for her life,” he said.
The fourth-class student who attended St Nessan’s National School was first diagnosed with a brain tumour in April 2011 and had to undergo surgery and chemotherapy. Last May, a second tumour was discovered and she had to undergo further surgery.
And just like Katie Taylor had her father Peter in her corner, Becky, Fr Fitzgibbon said, had her dad Mike, mum Mary and sister Rachel “always with her”. “Mike, Mary, Rachel and Becky had camped out in the front room for the last week, spending literally day and night in the one room, even through to this morning. Talk about being in her corner – you are an inspiration as a family,” he said.
The popular girl, mourners heard, had a number of similarities with Katie Taylor – and had a particularly strong faith. But while Katie is quietly spoke when she exits the boxing ring, Becky was always full of chat - “she could talk for Ireland”.
“I can still hear Mary saying ‘can you just concentrate and stop the talking and brush your teeth’,” said her father Mike from the altar. “I was at home with Becky when I heard that Maeve Binchy had died and how God had called her ‘so now he could listen to her’... well, move over Maeve Binchy,” Mike added raising smiles and laughter all around the church from Becky’s family and vast number of friends.