As the piper struck up a lament and the mourners gathered around the graveside, the scene looked for all the world like the final farewell of some community stalwart or local grandee. The piles of bouquets and the large crowd, several deep in places, all spoke of the deep respect in which the deceased was held.
But none of the 250 people in attendance had known the baby being laid to rest. Abandoned by his mother at only a few days old, in circumstances that we can only try to imagine, there was every reason to expect the child would be buried with no-one to mourn him apart from the handful of officials paid to be there.
The fact that so many people came forward to make sure that that did not happen speaks volumes about the power of community.
Many attended after reading a plea in last week’s Evening News from the police officers who tried to trace the baby’s mother to make sure the baby was not laid to rest alone.
As a result, piper Cameron McKay offered to play at the funeral, dressmaker Margaret Halliday created a beautiful gown and others simply came to be there, just to show that they cared. One mourner captured the feeling with a message left with a bouquet of flowers, Leith is your family now.
There is a great sadness about the terrible circumstances of this boy’s life which cannot be lifted. But in acknowledging him as one of their own, giving him a name and paying their respects, the community has recognised the value in his life, however short and sad.
This coming together, and display of shared values, shows the strength of community in this city and just how much most people care about those who live around them.