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.”
Leaving a city to mourn her young and oh-so-precious life, Jasmina has left behind a legacy as an advocate by giving life to others through inspiring thousands within the Black and Brown communities to sign up with the national registry as potential bone-marrow donors. In the process of Jasmina’s fight, a dozen other people with leukemia have received a second chance at life through the One for Jasmina drives, which found bone-marrow matches for them.
After Jasmina was diagnosed in January, she began a roller coaster of constant ups and downs.
The kindergartener had to undergo heavy doses of chemotherapy and radiation and faced constant setbacks even after finding a near-perfect bone-marrow match. Jasmina’s body began to reject the bone marrow, and the cancer returned while she suffered other illnesses like shingles and infections and constant trips to the hospital. But throughout it all, Thea and Jasmina remained very optimistic and positive about a recovery.
In November, the Make-A-Wish Foundation granted Jasmina the chance to meet President Obama, but even then Jasmina was hospitalized the morning of her meeting when her mother was forced to call 911.
Waking up in a Washington, D.C., hospital, Thea said Jasmina wanted to know, “What happened to Obama?” Days later, Jasmina’s dream deferred was granted when she met the president, who quickly became smitten by her intellect and charm, just like everyone else.
In a statement, the president sent condolences to Thea saying, “Jasmina showed tremendous bravery in the face of adversity, and her ability to stay positive throughout her battle was an inspiration to me and to all those she touched. As the parents of two young girls, our hearts particularly go out to Jasmina’s devoted mother, Thea. Our thoughts and prayers are with her and with all who knew and loved Jasmina.”
Jasmina’s body was cremated after the service. A friend said that Thea promised Jasmina that when she turned 10 years old, they would travel the world together, so Thea will honor her promise and take Jasmina’s ashes across the world with her so that they may complete their journey together.
To become a bone marrow donor and join the national registry in the honor of little Jasmina and all those still in a fight for their lives, visit the DKMS website at www.dkmsamericas.org.