In less than two weeks, Tavi Suydan would have celebrated her ninth birthday. In a month, Christopher Suydan would have turned 8.
Instead, this brother and sister, so close in life, were buried side by side yesterday. They were struck and killed by a car Sept. 11 -- run over on Florida Avenue NE by a suspect in a drug case who allegedly fled from District police shortly before the accident.
Yesterday, hundreds of mourners filled a church in Northeast Washington, where the siblings' small white coffins rested by the altar amid 18 big bouquets.
"We'll miss you," read the ribbons on two flower arrangements. Hers was pink, his blue.
"We are not prepared to lose two wonderful children on an outing with their father," Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) said from the pulpit of Greater Morning Star Pentecostal Church.
She told the women in hats, the men in dark suits, the children in polished shoes that she was suppressing her rage, wanting instead "to bring you the love and sympathy of the rest of the city."
The children, who lived in Temple Hills, were on an outing with their father and were crossing the street ahead of him when they were run down. The driver, Eric Palmer, 19, of the District, is charged with two counts of second-degree murder.
Palmer allegedly fled from officers who were making a drug bust a half-mile from the accident scene. Statements from some witnesses, including the suspect, and evidence collected by investigators suggest that a police officer halted the pursuit 15 to 20 seconds before the children were run over. But other witnesses said that when the siblings were hit, police were speeding 10 feet behind the Honda Accord that Palmer was driving.
Palmer told police that the car's brakes failed.
"I don't run the city," Norton said. "I'm the congresswoman. But I'm going to say to you, the police department has a lot of explaining to do. Our children should not be struck down in the streets when they are on outings with their parents."
Octavia Michelle Suydan was "tiny," her family wrote in the funeral program. But "she loved to eat," and her favorites were chocolate chip waffles and cheesy eggs for breakfast, Hot Pockets or pizza for lunch, and fried chicken for dinner with chocolate cupcakes for dessert -- and "a cold glass of milk to wash everything down."
She dreamed of being "a great chef," her family wrote.
Christopher Edward Suydan Jr. had a yellow belt in karate and was in the gifted and talented program at Longfields Elementary in Forestville. Tavi attended Hillcrest Heights Elementary in Oxon Hill, and the family wrote that both children were on the honor roll.
Christopher tried to be "constantly aware of . . . current events," according to an obituary read aloud to the mourners. He "declared that if he were president, he would bring all the troops back home."
"He was a very kind person," said Jeffrey Holmes, the principal of Longfields, reading a note from one of Christopher's friends. "He was very shy. And sometimes he ran from the girls in second and third grade."
"Your loss is our loss," Prince George's County schools chief Andre J. Hornsby said, addressing the siblings' parents, Towhanna Boston and Christopher E. Suydan Sr.
On the day his children were killed, their father had picked them up from their mother's house and taken them out for the afternoon. They stopped to have a tire repaired and were crossing Florida Avenue to get something to drink when the Honda came barreling along, according to statements.
"I know that Octavia and Christopher Junior are with God now, because I am their father, and that thought makes me feel better," their father said.
"My daughter had many of my physical characteristics and many of my mannerisms -- but despite that, she's an angel," he said, and the congregation laughed with him. "My son would always ask me what he got from me. My feet."
Suydan said: "Children look to their parents to be role models. I will forever look to my babies as my role model, and with God's mercy I will be a better person."
Then the church's pastor, Bishop Charles E. Johnson, rose to the pulpit.
"In my 18 years of pastoring this church, I've never had anything to affect me like this," he said. "In fact, in the 28 years I've been here, I haven't known of anything that's been as traumatic as this."
"But God has all things in His hand."