'Beautiful little lady' farewelled

By Julia Proverbs

From dresses, shirts and scarves to jandals, earrings and hairclips, they dug what purple they had out of their wardrobes for this special occasion.

And as her small purple casket was gently carried in and laid at the front of the church among soft toys, flowers and the mass of beads she had accumulated during her courageous battle with cancer, a sea of purple - the colour of royalty - rose to its feet to farewell Sativa Eagle.

Having died at just 2 years old she lived a short life, but it was a life that touched thousands, healed broken relationships and inspired parents to hold their children tighter.

Sativa, twin sister to Indee, and whose favourite colour was purple, was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) on January 5, 2011, when she was just 4 months old.

In May this year, having already cheated death several times, Sativa received a bone marrow transplant, with the hope it would cure her.

But at the end of August, just days before the twins' second birthday, she relapsed.

More bone marrow was injected into her body in a desperate bid to push out her cancerous cells, but on September 11 parents Sheree Roose and Tim Eagle were given the devastating news their daughter was dying.

Her brave journey was charted on the Please Help Baby Sativa & Her Family Fight Leukemia Facebook page, which amassed more than 6000 "likes".

Sativa's funeral, at Greerton Bible Church in Tauranga on Saturday, brought together more than 300 people, as varied as the shades of purple they wore, but united in grief.

Ms Roose, with the words "Sativa Eagle a daughter that never ceases to be miraculous" freshly tattooed across her heart, wore head-to-toe purple, from the purple stilettos on her feet to the purple streaks in her hair, while Indee wore a pale pink fairy dress - the matching dress to the purple one her sister was laid to rest in.

Ms Roose's brothers, Daniel and John Roose, began the service with a song they had composed to "celebrate the life of a beautiful little lady".

The tributes that followed were brief but heartfelt.

Pastor John Elen said Sativa had lived a tiny life but with a big, fighting spirit. "She captured the hearts of a family, a community, a city and people around the world. She had more friends on Facebook than everyone here combined," he said.

Ms Roose's friend Sherilyn Torrance, with a matching script tattooed on her chest that read "Sativa Eagle full of beauty and forever beautiful", said Sativa had brought she and Ms Roose closer together.

"Thank you for teaching me what life is all about," she said.

Ms Torrance's niece, Sophie Torrance, 10, said Sativa was "way, way, way" too young to die and questioned why she had to suffer.

Rex Eagle, Sativa's great-grandfather, commended Ms Roose and Mr Eagle on being "the most awesome parents any child could ever wish for", before breaking down in tears.

Then, for a moment, Sativa came alive as photos and video clips were beamed to the congregation to the songs In My Daughter's Eyes and The World's Greatest.

In a lighter moment, laughter filled the room as the bubbly little girl grooved to a musical toy.

Mr Elen concluded by saying Sativa had not lost a battle with cancer - she had won victory over a disease that no longer had a claim on her life.

As her casket was carried out into the spring sunshine, her uncles sang Tears in Heaven and Indee trailed along behind, clutching her pink cuddly rug.

Hundreds of purple balloons were then handed out to everyone in the congregation - except Ms Roose and Mr Eagle, who each clasped a clear balloon with white hearts on it.

When the hearse pulled away the couple set them free and 300 purple balloons followed.

As they took flight, one of the clear balloons lingered, just a while longer, before also drifting heavenward.

"Bye Tiva", said a little girl dressed in a purple fairy skirt.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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