Phillip Hughes remembered in moving Macksville ceremony
MICHAEL Clarke's final words at the funeral of 25-year-old batsman Phillip Joel Hughes were a heart-rending ending to a funeral service that celebrated and mourned the young man in equal measure.
"So rest in peace my little brother, I'll see you out in the middle."
In a packed Macksville High School hall, Clarke spoke through his tears about feeling Phillip's spirit everywhere.
Feeling it on the Sydney Cricket Ground, feeling it in the support that washed in from all over the world after news spread of Hughes's death.
Clarke felt Phillip's spirit in the tiny town of Macksville, south of Coffs Harbour.
By the time Clarke uttered that vow, he was losing the battle against his emotions. The moment he finished, they appeared to overwhelm him. He had lost not just a mate, but a brother.
The room had already been heard heartbreaking speeches given by Phillip's sister Megan and brother Jason.
Each read letters. Jason spoke first.
His words were laced with brotherly ribbing ("You always had the good looks, you always had the hair, and who said you needed braces to have a smile? You never took a bad photo") and tearful sincerity:
"My promises to you, firstly I will take good care of Mum, Dad, Megan, and of course, your beloved cows," he said.
"I'm so proud of you, thank you again for all the memories.
"I love you now and forever. Love your big brother, Jase."
Megan spoke next.
"I am so proud, along with Mum, Dad and Jason with what you have accomplished with your short period of time you were here with us.
"There won't be a day that goes by that I won't think of you. I promise I will talk to you every day and keep you company up there.
"I know now it's time to say goodbye but over the last few days I have realised goodbye isn't forever.
"Until next time, I love you big brother."
Cricket Australia CEO James Sutherland paid the final tribute.
"Ed Smith once wrote that cricket is possessed of a rich poetic heart. For the cricket community today, that heart is heavy with sorrow. Cricket's heart has
been pierced by pain but will never stop beating.
Phillip Hughes, forever unconquered on 63."
The service opened with Forever Young by Australia's Youth Group and the coffin left the hall to Elton John's Don't Let The Sun Go Down on Me.
The funeral procession then wound through the township, with residents, and thousands of out-of-town mourners lining the streets of the town.