NEW PORT RICHEY — On the altar in the front of the church sat two tiny urns. One painted in blues and greens. The other in purple and pink. Between them, a framed photo of the two happy toddlers, Micah and Miah Shaver, smiling, his head on her shoulder, the way they were until Monday morning.
"Micah and Miah knew no sin," The Rev. Chris Steele told the gathering of about 75 friends and family who filled the pews at River Road Church of Christ on Friday afternoon. "They were just as innocent and precious as they could be."
He prayed with the mourners. He told them that sometimes accidents happen, that God doesn't take children away on purpose.
Sobs echoed in the long chapel. A menagerie of bouquets, teddy bears and photos of the fraternal twins decorated the altar.
"There are so many questions," Steele said. "And many of those questions will not have answers."
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Authorities have released few details about the Monday morning fire that killed the 3-year-old twins. Investigators have not said what sparked the blaze in the Moon Lake mobile home. The Pasco County Sheriff's Office said it may have to wait until the medical examiner's findings are released before authorities say anything more about the case.
The twins and their mother, Shannon Garza, were the only ones at their 10637 Wabayo St. home when the fire started. Garza made it out of the house. Neighbors found her in her back yard spraying a garden hose into the blazing house, screaming that her babies were inside.
Neighbors and a deputy tried to push out a window and pull out a window unit air conditioner. But the heat and smoke kept them from going inside.
By the time firefighters arrived and knocked down the flames, it was too late. The mobile home was a blackened shell. The twins, as Steele said in his eulogy, "were taken up to heaven."
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The clergy, mostly in black, eased out of their pews when the service ended and trickled outside. Some people stayed in their seats and pressed their faces into their hands and Thomas B. Dobies, who had arranged the funeral for free, brought them tissues.
Garza sat at the front of the church with her two older children, Yolanda, 13, and Joseph, 12. The two were at River Ridge Middle School on Monday morning when the fire started.
As the crowd passed the seated family, some people stopped and hugged the Garzas and rocked back and forth.
An overhead projector cycled through a slideshow of the twins.
There was Miah dressed as a Halloween bat. Micah as Bumblebee from the Transformers movie. In another, they lay on a cushion in front of a window, cuddling.
When everyone had left, the Garzas walked down the steps in front of the church, hand-in-hand with other family members, to talk to reporters.
"They were two loving kids that loved to go and play outside," she said when asked how she wanted the twins to be remembered. "They loved the outdoors."
Alex Orlando can be reached at email@example.com or (727) 869-6247.