Inside Kilah Davenport's room, Kilah's Grandmother - Leslie Davenport - finds solace, peace of mind on the heels of two years of trauma; 6 months of loss. Leslie reads from Kilah's Bible: "I will praise you Lord with all my heart, Before God, I will sing your praise." Now, Leslie Davenport sets aside moments for meditation and prayer, moments to remember the spirit of Kilah.
Authorities say Kilah's stepfather crushed her skull into a wall. He was convicted on child abuse charges and sentenced to 7-10 years behind bars. March 2014, Kilah passed away. Initially, authorities cited Pneumonia and complications of blunt-force trauma as the cause of death. This week, the medical examiner ruled Kilah's death a homicide, heavy news for anyone.
"I wake up every morning and I cry. Her mother mourns for her. "To cope? Kilah's Nana keeps things spiritually centered. "If you don't have faith, and you don't pray, and you don't believe, then you're not going to get anywhere. My prayer for her was always for her to be healed, and she is healed, just not on this earth."
There are rituals. Every morning, Leslie sings a song to Kilah. "I sing a song, ‘Good morning to you. Good morning to you. Good morning to Kilah, Good morning, to you.'"
To help heal wounds, Leslie keeps Kilah's ashes nearby at all times. "During the game on Sunday, I stuck her urn in her Panthers jersey – so she was watching the football game with me. It's a constant prayer."
Nearly six months after her death, Kilah's room appears untouched - filled with keepsakes of childhood. Toys are piled high awaiting a child's touch – all a memorial to Kilah.
Leslie says there are signs that Kilah is present: "I've been in the backyard and I'll have humming birds that just buzz in my face. They'll come and they're right in my face. Butterflies will just hang around. It's almost like she's giving me a signal. Hey it's me. I'm okay. You just keep doing what you're doing."
Tucked in the corner of Kilah's dresser, there is a funeral program, with the delicate face of Kilah on the cover. Kilah's Nana says the celebration of life continues every day. "Kilah was born an angel,and she is still an angel. She is going to save a lot of lives."
Leslie Davenport keeps Kilah's spirit alive through the Kilah Davenport Foundation.
Kilah Davenport Foundation
PO Box 691147
Charlotte, NC 28227