Baby Chloe Fogarty was laid to rest today.
“I’m so sorry you had to go, we had such big hopes and dreams for your future. Heaven was missing an angel, a special angel, and they needed you.”
Louise Fogarty paid a heartfelt and heartwrenching tribute to her baby daughter Chloe as she stood beside her husband in the church where the couple got married in 2015 and celebrated again just three months ago when little Chloe was baptised.
“Paul and I will stay strong together, because we know that that’s what you would want,” the grief-stricken young mother said as tears flowed freely in St Nicholas’s Church in the village of Solohead, on the border between Tipperary and Limerick.
Earlier, the hundreds of mourners gathered in silence to pay their respects to the little baby, who would have been eight months old tomorrow (Tuesday), and offer their support to the couple who have been going through unimaginable pain, since she died last Thursday evening after being found critically ill in her father’s car.
The little white coffin bearing the remains of Chloe Fogarty was carried from outside the church to the altar by her dad, while her mum clutched one of her cuddly toys.
At the outset of the Mass, Louise and Paul walked to the pulpit together, carrying a teddy bear and a photograph, flanked by two family members, to pay their tribute to Chloe, “our beautiful angel,” as Louise put it.
“Chloe, you switched on a happiness in us that we never knew we had. You were the most precious person in our lives. Our beautiful happy Chloe. You always had a smile on your face for everyone you ever met. You knew how to put a smile on everyone else’s faces too.”
She spoke of how much they loved Chloe, how she had so much love to give, and how it pained her to return to work after maternity leave, three weeks ago, but knew how much Chloe loved her creche.
“You were the most inquisitive baby, so sociable, first in the door every morning and you loved to watch all your little pals come in, one by one. Your laugh was so infectious.”
The little girl kept them busy in the creche, Louise said, as she only had catnaps throughout the day. “You just wanted to be up, watching everything going on.”
She had “the biggest of smiles every evening, when Daddy came to collect you,” and was the most easygoing baby, she said, adding that she loved going to the pool for swimming lessons and loved her bath.
“We slept in your room on Thursday night,” Louise said of the night of Chloe’s death last week. “On Friday morning, when we pulled back the bed to draw back the curtains, there was an artificial rose petal on the floor. It was from nothing belonging to us, so we can’t explain where it came from. It was the strangest thing, we believe it was your way of saying that you will always be with us.”
Fighting back tears, Louise remembered Chloe lying in her room, playing happily with her teddies. “We will treasure every memory… Every time we close our eyes, your beautiful face is all we see,” she said.
“I don’t know how our lives will go on without you, they will never be the same. Paul and I will stay strong together because I know that’s what you would want, Chloe our darling daughter. I’m so sorry you had to go, we had such big hopes and dreams for your future. Heaven was missing an angel, a special angel, and they needed you.”
She said they will never forget Chloe and her “huge personality” which shone through every day. “I cannot wait until we can hold you tight in our arms again. Mammy, Daddy and your family love you. We will love you forever and never forget you.”
Among the songs which rang around the church before the Mass of the Angels ended was Tears in Heaven, written by Eric Clapton after the death of his young son Conor.
Afterwards, the heartbroken couple and their siblings, parents and other relatives and many friends and neighbours, filed outside to watch Chloe being laid to rest, less than eight months after she came into the world.