FOR Ornella Greaves and her family, Christmas 2019 was wonderful. They spent the morning sharing gifts, eating breakfast and praying.
Then in the afternoon they went from their home in Fourth Street, Phase 1, Beetham Gardens to her mother’s house, one street over, on fifth street and limed with other relatives and friends.
But this year, although their house is beautifully put away, it is empty. There is no smell of ham or turkey. No Christmas carols are being sung. No parang or festive music could be heard from the house.
That is because the one that brought the Christmas spirit into their home, Ornella Greaves, is dead.
Greaves died after being shot during a protest near the Beetham Highway in June. She was four months pregnant.
The protest was one of several which erupted after Joel Jacobs, Israel Clinton and Noel Diamond were shot dead by police in Morvant on June 27.
Greaves was recording the protest when gunshots were heard. Beetham residents say police who pulled up on the scene are responsible for Greaves’ death. But Police Commissioner Gary Griffith said his officers were nowhere near the scene up to three minutes before she was shot. Investigations into the incident are ongoing.
Greaves’ children – Gabrielle Cummings, 14, Jeremiah Joseph, ten, Angel Joseph, seven, Jeremy Joseph, three, and Mariah Joseph, two, are spending Christmas without their mother, and her husband Darren Joseph is spending Christmas without his wife.
“All now so we would be putting together everything for Christmas morning. I would paint and clean up and do everything I had to in the house. She would be cooking and helping with the cleaning, and she would go out shopping for Christmas gifts.
“This (Christmas Eve) morning, my youngest daughter asked me where she was. I couldn’t tell her that she was dead. Not on Christmas Eve. I had to lie to her. I told her mammy gone to come back.”
When Newsday visited, the children spoke about not having their mother for Christmas.
Cummings, the eldest of the five, although shy and soft-spoken, recalled fondly the last Christmas she spent with her mother.
“It was good when she was with us. She bought us clothes for Christmas, and she made sure we ate and drank and we came across by Granny.
“This year, I don’t know what to say. I think about her every day. Before she died, I dreamt she got shot. I wanted to tell her about it, but before I could she left to go to the protest.”
She said although she thinks about her mother daily, friends and people close to her try to comfort her and try to convince her not to think about the loss, if only for a moment.
But her struggles go beyond her loss. She admitted that she had been having difficulty at her school, Morvant Secondary. She said she was unable to access online schooling during the lockdown periods and had to continue her learning through packages – and even that, she was unable to deal with.
Darren Joseph said things have become increasingly difficult for him also, as his part-time job at the fisheries department in the area was recently shut down. He said he has to juggle comforting his children and maintaining them.
He depends on assistance from his mother-in-law Annette who would help him with groceries and assist with looking after the children.
Angel told Newsday that while she has not been able to touch or hold her mother, she still sees her regularly in her dreams.
“Mummy comes to me. I see her, but she doesn’t say anything. If she were here right now, I would tell her I dream about her every day, and I wish that this didn’t happen to her. But she would say stop talking about things like that, it is not good.”
A heartbroken Annette Greaves, said her daughter’s loving and giving spirit was something that went beyond Christmas. She described Ornella as a fun-loving, sociable and jovial girl.
“She is well known in the area. She dealt with a lot of people. When you are sad, she would make you laugh. She was always laughing. She would always tell people something that would make them laugh. She loved music and parties and enjoyment. A lot of people, not just us, will miss her.”
Anyone wishing to assist the family can contact Darren Joseph at 374-6098.