Updated 05/30/2009 07:39 AM
A tribute to Kathina
ALBANY, N.Y. -- Only a few flowers marked the 10-year-old's final resting place. But soon her mother, joined by her family, came to offer her tokens of comfort to ensure she lie in peace one year after she was taken from them in violence.
"I don't even have word to say today you know. It's hard for me," said Shondell McAllister, Kathina's mother.
Her death was a catalyst for a call for change. But the girl is still just a little girl in their eyes.
"Kathina Thomas," said her cousin, Preston Williams. "Her name is definitely not the face of gun violence. She was the victim of gun violence. But her name is the face of, her name is peace. Her name represents happiness, smiles, laughter, joy, gladness. Nothing evil, sad, nothing wrong."
Still her family is reeling.
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"That's my best cousin," said Alvin Damon. "A day like today bring back a lot of memories."
Even on this day, forgiveness for the teenager who took her life.
"He chose the wrong side and I forgive him from my heart and my daughter's heart," said McAllister.
"I knew Jermayne and I feel bad for him, he's a cool friend of mine," said Williams. "It's was hurtful. I'm sure he's feeling it. It's hard. Her passing opened the eyes of so many people and so many of our community leaders. And showed them that we have a problem going on and we need to fix it in our community.
"She wake up Albany from the crime," said McAllister.
I asked Kathina's mother what she was praying for today, one year after her daughter's death. She says she prays for new life by way of another child. She says she has more love to give.
"Let me make the next one in the space of my daughter and let it be a girl, you know?" said an emotional McAllister. "The tears will come, but I'm asking God to ease it for me, don't let it flow so, you know?"
And they hope the little girl who brought them so much peace in life will somehow, someday, bring peace to the streets in death.
"The guns are still around, we can't change that you know," said McAllister.
"We just gotta keep pressing and workin’ harder," said Williams. "There's a lot of work to be done."