Brave, beautiful, brother.
These were the words used to farewell one-punch victim Cole Miller at his funeral in Brisbane on Wednesday.
More than 1000 mourners filed into the Cathedral of St Stephen for the service, held just over a week after the 18-year-old’s life support was turned off.
It came after the teenager suffered massive brain trauma following an alleged random assault in Fortitude Valley.
Mourners gathered to grieve the loss of young life – a loss sharpened by a portrait of a smiling teen beaming from behind a row of braces on the funeral program’s front cover.
“The Miller family … thank you for your presence, prayers and loving support as we celebrate the life of our brave and beautiful boy and brother,” a final inscription read.
In a moving eulogy, Steven Miller remembered his son as the beloved youngest sibling of a happy, busy family.
He said Cole was an adored child who inspired a family tradition of trying to steal hugs and kisses – a game that persisted even when their target was in Year 12.
Luckily, Cole was equally affectionate in turn, often sneaking into his parents’ room as a young boy to snuggle up with them to sleep.
Steven said Cole grew up to idolise his oldest brother Billy, an Olympic water polo player.
But after cheering his sibling on at the 2012 London Games, he said Cole was inspired to become “the water polo kid” himself.
Mother Mary-Leigh, as well as other siblings Kate and Mitchell, also took part in the Catholic service.
They fronted a crowd dotted with Brisbane State High School uniforms and dashes of green, the colour of Cole’s water polo team, the Brisbane Barracudas.
Representatives from the Australian team, as well as the chief executive and president of Water Polo Australia, were also in attendance as well as Acting Premier Jackie Trad.
Cole’s death has given momentum to the state government’s proposed new laws to tackle alcohol-fuelled violence, including changes to night club lockout times.
His alleged attackers, Armstrong Renata and Daniel Maxwell, both 21, remain in custody, having been charged with unlawful striking causing death.
But standing by his late son’s white coffin, Steven’s words were of love, not politics or law.
“This young boy Cole could hold my heart,” the bereaved parent said.
“He did so forever and he still does.”