The 11-year-old Lion King star said goodbye herself with a videotaped poem
Credit: Karen Detrick

Shannon Tavarez, the 11-year-old Broadway singer who died of leukemia last week, said goodbye to friends and family in her own words at a heartbreaking funeral service in New York on Monday.

“We are happy and sometimes sad. It always hurts to go. But we do start a new beginning, so I bid you goodbye,” Tavarez said in a videotaped poem, her white casket draped with flowers nearby, according to NY1.

Hundreds of friends, family members and fellow performers gathered at the Greater Allen AME Cathedral in Queens to remember a big-hearted girl with talent to match, who fell ill just months after getting her big break in The Lion King.

“I ride the trains we used to ride together. I now ride them alone. I sing the songs we used to sing together, but my voice is nowhere as sweet as yours,” her grandfather, Dennis Shaw, said. “I yearn for the day when I would hear your laughter as I search for your radiant smile.”

“I could honestly say I loved her like she was my sister. And I’m so sad,” said Marquis Rodriguez, who played Young Simba in The Lion King. “I wanted to protect her from anything, and this is the one thing that I couldn’t. I love you so much Shannon.”

Tavarez’s family said they will honor her legacy by recruiting more people to enter the bone-marrow registry.