HOUSTON — Abigail Arias might be gone, but her journey is far from over, Angleton Second Baptist Pastor Chris Moore said at her funeral Tuesday.
Hundreds of family members, friends, uniformed first responders, Westside Elementary staff and other supporters exemplified that reach at Grace Church Houston by extending their arms out in Abigail’s signature pose. Their arms filled the first floor of the megachurch.
Officers from Brazoria County, Houston, Harlingen, Todd Mission, Richmond and as far as New York lined the church’s hallway while her casket left the church, on its way to the final destination of Clute’s Restwood Cemetery.
Her father Ruben, mother Ilene and brother Ethan spoke eloquently on the church’s stage during the service, but they sobbed together while trailing the casket.
The 7-year-old girl succumbed to Wilms’ tumor, a rare kidney cancer that primarily affects children, a week earlier. Attendees donned orange ribbons for kidney cancer awareness at Tuesday’s service, though the basket of ribbons emptied long before the hundreds arrived.
In December, about a month after doctors told Abigail’s family that there was nothing else to be medically done for her cancer, Abigail met Freeport Police Chief Ray Garivey.
“She had the most beautiful bald head I had ever seen in my life,” Garivey said.
Abigail told him she wanted to be a cop when she grew up to help people, Garivey said at the funeral Tuesday. In February, he swore her in as an honorary officer.
Since then, more than 20 departments made Abigail an honorary officer, Garivey said. People around the world began following her story.
Organizations helped the family go on seven trips that helped make memories to last a lifetime, including to the White House, where she sat in the president’s chair, Garivey said.
The family was thanked many times for sharing Abigail with the world, Ruben Arias said, but in reality, they wished to thank everyone for being part of Abigail’s journey. They did what God led them to do and God allowed the family to be brave through it, he said.
“Thank you for loving her,” Ruben Arias said.
Ilene Arias admitted that her faith wavered while seeing her daughter in so much pain. But when the dust settled, she understood, she said.
“We came to the realization that if our God is truly sovereign and in full control, He knew she only had seven years to begin with,” Ilene Arias said. “And that those seven years were gifted to us, we are forever thankful. She wanted for nothing, especially love. We wanted for nothing but a smile on her face.”
Ilene Arias imagined a scenario in her head of Satan choosing the Arias family to torment by striking their daughter with cancer, but God having a say.
“She may have this sickness for three years, but she may only be in pain for the last three weeks,” Ilene Arias said she imagined God saying. “All the rest, she will run, skip and laugh as though nothing were wrong. People will even question if the child is truly ill.”
God sent an army to stand by her side, especially during the last year, Ilene Arias said.
“I will call my people to come together and shower them with letters of encouragement and gifts of love,” Ilene Arias said she imagined God saying. “I will take care of every bill and financial burden so that they can focus on each other. On top of that, she will be made an honorary officer by the name of 758. Police officers and first responders from all over America and abroad will reach out to show them love.”
Abigail’s police honors announced her end of watch on Nov. 5, 2019.
“She will leave a legacy that you, Satan, cannot erase,” Ilene Arias said God said. “This family will grow closer and stronger. Best of all, when she takes her last breath, she will come straight back to me.”
Abigail won’t let Satan forget that she is relentless and God will protect her, her mother said.