HOUSTON – Abigail Arias achieved a life goal in February. Her right hand held high, she took the oath police officers take -- and with it a promise to serve and protect. She was 6 years old.
The job was more honorary than not, yet over time, Officer Abigail grew to mean much more.
"There's no honorary to it; she wore that uniform with pride," said Freeport Police Department Chief Raymond Garivey.
"I asked her what she wanted to be when she grew up. That’s when we had the conversation,” Garivey said.
"I want to be a police officer," Abigail had responded.
Chief Garivey spoke of Officer 758 as his equal, his partner. He did so holding back tears as he, Abigail's family and a community came together to say goodbye.
Mourners gathered Tuesday at Grace Community Church in southeast Houston for Abigail's funeral. The 7-year-old passed away Nov. 5 after a long-fought battle with cancer.
It was a battle Abigail fought publicly.
"We were brave because we had God with us," said Ruben Arias, Abigail's father, during the funeral service.
Abigail's parents, Ruben and Ilene, addressed the congression with their eldest son, Ethan.
"We've come to the realization that if our God is truly sovereign and in full control, he knew she only had seven years to begin with. And that those seven years were gifted to us; we are forever thankful," Ilene Arias said.
The Arias family spoke of the pain they've felt following Abigail's death. It's a struggle they've yet to fully understand. Still, they spoke of being thankful: both for Abigail and the thousands of people who have comforted them over the past year.
We get thanked a lot for allowing Abigail and our family, for us sharing her with you guys," Ruben Arias said. "We thank you for being a part of her journey," he continued.
The celebration of Abigail's life began at dawn Tuesday. The parking lot of the Stroud Funeral Home in Clute was filled with police cars as they left to escort honorary Officer Abigail Arias 758 to her funeral, then to her final resting place.
The law enforcement procession traveled from the funeral home at 7 a.m. to Grace Community Church in Houston for the funeral. After the service, her procession returned to Clute, where family and friends said their final goodbyes at Restwood Cemetery.
“This is a little girl who’s fighting for her life. But she wanted to make others smile," Chief Garivey said, as he addressed the crowd.
Throughout the reflections of Abigail, a common thread emerged, the story of a girl who cared not about her struggle.
Abigail left a legacy and mission to help others.
That's the takeaway.
"With her wider-than-life arms, sprawled-out pose, she reached the world and the rippling effects continue to widen," Ilene Arias said.