Mom forgives after loss of daughter
Jolyn Bryan, Gleaner Writer
"We are all human. We make mistakes. That is her mistake. And I forgive her."
Nayeeka Clarke Baker was speaking about the female driver whose Infiniti QX SUV struck and killed her 16-year-old daughter, Sunietta Williams, earlier this month.
Clarke Baker, who was one of the first people on the scene of the accident, which occurred at Poor Man's Corner in St Thomas, said she begged the woman to help take her daughter to the hospital.
"She said, 'I can't put her on the back seat because I have a cake on the back seat.' People were saying that I should curse and lick her down, but I couldn't do it," she said.
No charges have been laid against the driver.
Clarke Baker's resilient and forgiving spirit comes from what seems to be a strong reliance on the Word of God, and the belief that all things happen for the purpose God has intended.
"Sometimes what we take for earthly grief is victory in Heaven. Me and you don't know if one day down the line, my daughter would be turned back from God, turn her back on God, and do things that God wouldn't like. So maybe she doing that now, it would look to us like wickedness, but maybe she save Sunietta."
Despite the sense of reassurance that she will see her daughter again, Clarke Baker and her family have been shaken by the loss of the 16-year-old, who was in the middle of her end-of-term examinations at Yallahs High School.
Friends, relatives and fellow students have expressed shock and deep sorrow at the death of the girl, who they described as friendly and always smiling, but quiet and shy.
Her sister, Ambrozine Williams, who Sunietta was closest to in age and with whom she attended school, is especially hurt by the loss of her constant companion, but has also taken comfort from her faith.
"I have asked God to help me so that when I remember Sunietta, I remember her with a smile, and not with grief, 'cause I know is God take her and I know she is in Heaven right now, eating apple," Ambrozine said.
Along with the support of her church sisters and the small community of Cuba in Poor Man's Corner, Clarke Baker said being able to talk to other parents who have suffered the loss of a child has also brought her comfort.
She said having the empathy of others who understand her feelings has made her find hope that one day she will be able to remember her daughter without tears.
The family is also taking advantage of counselling arranged by the St Thomas police's Victim Support Unit.
Similar arrangements have been made by the Ministry of Education for students at the Yallahs High School to help those affected work through their grief.
Simone Wilkes and Sheldon Howell, guidance counsellors at the school, said that Sunietta's classmates and friends have been taking advantage of the sessions, and that counselling would be available for those who need it long term.
Clarke Baker, in the wake of her daughter's death, said she regretted not being able to do more for her.
"If I did know that God was going to take Sunietta so soon, maybe I would go beg and put together what she ask me for when she ask me. I was saying when she big, she will have it, but if I did know that she wasn't going live to see the bigness, I would find it," she said.
She is appealing for parents to demonstrate love to their children, to remind them how valuable and precious they are, and to not take them for granted.