Goodbye, James

updated 03/15/1993 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 03/15/1993 AT 01:00 AM EST

IN THE END THERE WAS NOTHING ANYONE COULD FOR 2-YEAR-old James Bulger except say goodbye. So on a cold, snowy Monday, 350 people filled Liverpool's Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church, while another thousand stood outside and listened as loudspeakers relayed a requiem mass for the slain child. Father Michael O'Connell tried to find words that might ease the pain of a nation struggling to understand how two accused 10-year-olds could have kidnapped, beaten and murdered a trusting toddler. "His death was not in vain," said O'Connell. "Something in James Patrick has touched the whole world. The death of an innocent little child is causing us to do something about it, to make life better." James's small, white coffin lay before the altar. Beside it stood a small, red chair with his two favorite teddy bears. In the front pew, heads bowed, were James's parents, Denise Bulger, 25, and Ralph, 26. They asked that the service close with the playing of Eric Clapton's "Tears in Heaven," written for the singer's own young son, who died two years ago. And as the soft strains of Clapton's mournful ballad filled the church, it was clear that there will be tears in Liverpool for years to come.

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