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City and nation left to mourn a young and oh-so-precious life

Maryam Abdul-Aleem | 4/12/2011, 5:23 p.m.

Almost 300 people came together to mourn and celebrate the life of the city's princess, who died of an aggressive form of leukemia.

The strength and spirit of Jasmina Anna Anema, who was born in Virginia and adopted when she was days old, was what many people touched by her warmth, grace, intellect and humor spoke of at her funeral service on Sunday in the West Village. She was 6 years old.

One after the other, loved ones shared stories about the profound way Jasmina (pronounced Yas-mina) inspired them to laugh a little longer and smile a whole lot brighter like Jasmina often did, despite the difficult life she lived after being diagnosed on January 20 with NK cell leukemia.

Jasmina traveled the world, loved to dress up, was very photogenic, loved to read, was extremely smart, rarely complained, worried about others and was an inspiration to many--even to those who never met her.

Heidi Damico, a family friend, said at Jasmina's funeral service that in Jasmina's last days, she told her mother, Thea Anema, that she wanted to go to Haiti to help the little children of that nation.

Damico said often Jasmina would tell her mother not to cry and that everything would be okay. She would tell her to think of something beautiful, but on the day her condition began to worsen after Jasmina was admitted to NYU Langone Medical Center due to shortness of breath, she turned to her mother and said, "Mama, it's okay to cry."

On Monday, January 25 Jasmina was hospitalized with shortness of breath. She had pneumonia in both lungs and was later moved to the ICU. With her breathing becoming more and more laborious, on January 27 at 10:55 p.m., Jasmina died surrounded by her mother and loved ones.

Upon learning that the city's princess had passed away, R&B singer Rihanna, who met the kindergartener, said, "She showed more strength and spirit than many adults I have met. She was truly an angel on Earth."

Some of Jasmina's friends sang "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star" at her memorial service. Some blew bubbles into the air and another friend, who visited Jasmina every week, said it would be hard for her to imagine not seeing Jasmina again.

Karen Detrick, who contacted DKMS, one of the largest bone-marrow donor organizations, when she learned of Jasmina's diagnosis and is the mother of Isabella, Jasmina's friend, said that Jasmina's life was short, but incredible.

"Today, happy thoughts of Jasmina make us cry. They make us cry because they remind us of what we've lost: an innocent child, daughter, sister and best friend."

"We will cry bittersweet tears of joy for having known Jasmina. We will find comfort in having memories we have of her. We will find comfort in the fact that Thea and Jasmina found each other. In their own words, they were MFEO: made for each other," she said.

A tearful Detrick continued, "Her unyielding spirit moved a city, then a nation, then the whole world. Jasmina touched each of us in a special way. She was truly remarkable and because of her and the organization that bears her name, One for Jasmina, many lives will be saved."