There is no footprint too small to leave an imprint on this world.
Moments of Quiet Reflection
On Sunday, October 27, 2019, at New Beginning Christian Ministry in Birmingham, Alabama, Kamille “Cupcake” McKinney was laid to rest, escorted to heaven in a horse drawn carriage, her tiny white casket adorned with pink and purple blooms; a fitting celebration for a beautiful life that ended much too soon. Her death haunts me, rendering me appalled and heartbroken, for it never should have been; and yet it is true. I believe it feels so incredibly personal because it happened right here in Birmingham, the city I have called home for the last 10 years; because I have three children of my own, including a five-year-old daughter with eyes that shine like hers; and because I hoped and prayed, like countless others, for her safe return.
When I first learned of Cupcake’s death, hot tears streamed down my cheeks and my shoulders slumped, heavy from my anguish. I struggled to wrap my head around the news, the death of a child in such a vile way, too painful to fathom. I thought of her parents; her sweet brother; her aunts, uncles, and cousins; and her community — our community. Right then, I penned a few words that captured my emotions, raw and nagging, on my personal Facebook page. I was searching for meaning and longing for solace amidst the tragedy.
I will repeat my thoughts here:
Tonight, an entire community mourns the death of Kamille “Cupcake” McKinney. News of her death has rocked Birmingham, Alabama and beyond.
It hurts. It hurts so bad.
She’s my baby. She’s your baby. She’s our baby.
Her beautiful brown skin, adorable smile, and eyes ablaze with hope for a future filled with promise. But her life has ended much too soon, cut short trivially and callously without respect for her humanity and value to this world.
We are all hurting, eyes stinging as tears roll down our cheeks.
We want answers and we want justice, but most of all we desired a happy ending for this precious baby and her family.
In a world filled with hatred and divisiveness and so much pain and heartache, all that we wanted, all that we hoped for, prayed for, and believed in was for her safe recovery. Yet, all we have are her remains tossed carelessly in a dumpster.
The remains of an angel who united the entire state of Alabama, the search that brought a city to its knees under the weight of her jarring absence. We banded together to save her, for a moment free from the divisiveness of race and socioeconomic status that has plagued this country for centuries.
Tonight, we are broken, the only comfort we have is to know that she has been returned safe and whole to her Heavenly Father.
We will pray for her family, a family devastated by such a painful loss that will be felt emotionally and worn physically in the months and years to come for the body always remembers the trauma.
We will hug our babies tighter, pray fervently for their safety, and cry ourselves to sleep.
Rest in heaven, Cupcake.
The world mourns your earthly absence, but your memory lives on in our hearts for a lifetime.
Honoring Cupcake’s Life
Cupcake has been laid to rest; a precious angel has gained her heavenly wings. Though I continue to mourn her tragic death, I wish to honor her beautiful life and the indelible impact she made upon the hearts of so many. Here are some of the ways we can support children and families and cherish her memory:
- Donate your time and/or money to an organization that champions the safety and well-being of children, such as Alabama Children’s First or Voices for Alabama’s Children
- Volunteer in your church’s nursery or children’s ministry
- Become a foster parent
- Start a memorial fund
- Plant a tree
- Talk to your children or those in your circle about safety
There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are the messengers of overwhelming grief, of deep contrition, and of unspeakable love.