By Jeff Noble
They were affectionately known as “Brat-Brat” and “Itty-Tiny.” “Brat-Brat” was Paiten Graci Nevaeh Cox. She was 2 years, 11 months and 14 days old, and would have been 3 later this month.
“Itty-Tiny” was her sister, Briel Nichea Camron Cox. She was 2 years and 16 days old.
Thursday afternoon, when the funeral service for Paiten and Briel Cox was held, hearts were heavy in Corbin.
Both little girls perished, along with five other members of a family, in a house fire last Saturday morning in Knox County. Paiten and Briel were staying at the house on Sam Parker Road in Gray with family friends when the tragedy occurred.
The funeral was a joint service. It was held at Vankirk-Grisell Funeral Home, who offered their services to the family. Inside the chapel, both sisters were side-by-side in an open casket, sharing it with several stuffed animals, including a rabbit and a teddy bear. Several floral arrangements filled the room, while a flat-screen TV showed pictures of Briel and Paiten at rest, at play and with loved ones adoring them.
As family, friends and relatives signed the book when they came in, most picked up what was called a “memorial note.” A picture of a Teddy Bear with a quilt in a rocking chair was on the front. When they opened the note, a picture of Paiten and Briel was seen.
On the back was the same Teddy Bear, along with a poem, “I Thought About You With Love Today.”
The service began shortly after 2 p.m. It started with a hymn “Precious Memories,” that was sung by the sisters’ grandfather, Thurman Mason. That was followed by the southern gospel song, “Coming Soon,” sung by a quartet made up of the little girls’ great-grandmother, uncle and aunts. A poem read by Peggy Smith came next, then three songs — including the gospel song, “Remind Me, Dear Lord” and the hymn, “Inside the Gate” — were performed with the individual singers accompanied by a guitar.
Several inside the chapel hugged and shed tears when the songs were sung.
Melissa Lawson spoke next. She read a piece of scripture from the Bible, John 4:6, and reminded those in the chapel that “In times like this we come apart. That’s when we need to come together.”
“Those babies are with Jesus. They’re in heaven. … I know that they’re in peace. …It’s a time that we come together, and show love. … Lord, I ask you to help this family and comfort them today,” she said.
After Lawson finished, those in the chapel were invited to have a meal with family members at Calvary Baptist Church in Gray after the funeral service.
A final song was played in memory of the sisters as the service came to an end, and family, relatives and friends paid their final respects to Briel and Paiten.
It was, and remains, a favorite to children everywhere — “Jesus Loves Me.”
Originally the burial of the two little girls was to have been Thursday at Brafford Cemetery in Knox County. Due to a family member unable to attend, the burial will be today (Friday). Family members will meet at Vankirk-Grisell Funeral Home at 10:30 a.m. then go the cemetery.