A little girl, eight years of age, was leaving school on the penultimate day of the school year. As Amirah Kinlaw stepped out of the safety of the Steuart Hill Academic Academy, she was standing at the intersection of South Gilmor and West Lombard Streets.
And then, she and a crossing guard were struck by a stolen jeep driven by a fourteen-year old. The guard survived; Amirah did not. Even the best efforts of paramedics on the scene and the doctors at Johns Hopkins Pediatric were not enough. And the police rounded up the teen driver, and said that he made awful decisions and awful choices. And there were vigils and there was weeping and wailing, and a young girl who was said to be loved by everyone is gone forever.
But her memory, for me, will remain in the soul and person of Leon Carter, her father. He was interviewed several times on the local news, in the brutal aftermath of the accident and at one of the neighborhood vigils.
He set an example of grace and humble acceptance of a fate decreed by God that is something we all should follow, I believe.
"She left me with great memories. Right now how I'm feeling is that she's still here with me," Carter said on TV.
Where another man might have been so angry and upset as to hurl invective and curse his fate, Leon Carter stood strong in the face of heartbreak and said, "I have to stay strong for my family, so all the wonderful memories of her is keeping me thriving and motivated."
He was afflicted with this unbelievable burden, but he found enough inner dignity to say that at least he got "nine beautiful years with Amirah," whom he calls "baby girl."
And then, instead of screaming for blood justice against the teenager who took away his blood kin, Carter said he was glad when the young man was arrested the next day so that he could "do his time and bring peace to the streets." Leon Carter faced the worst day of his life with enough forgiveness to hope that the young man who took his daughter's life will serve his sentence and come out to a life that never includes the agony he brought to Mr Carter. If you can top that for forgiveness, I'd like to hear about it, because I sure can't.