Tomorrow is promised to none of us, but when a young life is snatched away it goes to the core of our being.
Kalie Gill had come to America as a bright young woman full of promise and dreams, and it all ended horribly for her and her family when a runaway car ended her precious life last Friday on McLean Avenue in Yonkers.
The sophomore at St. Barnabas, the great Irish neighborhood school, was in the wrong place at the wrong time and was struck by the out of control vehicle which was traveling at an estimated 50 miles per hour.
There is a picture of Kalie with a little puppy which speaks to that promise and the warm fuzzy world of a child that is such a magical time of life.
We are accustomed to death – indeed Kalie’s father Damien had lost his elderly mother just a few weeks before – but we will never be accustomed to children dying.
There is something gut-wrenching and wrong about a child losing her life. The future has been stolen from her family, the proud rites of womanhood, graduation, college, career, marriage and kids, all gone in a dreadful second.
Kalie had gone to the carnival with her little sister Lindsey. Her sister was also badly hurt in the accident and is currently battling serious injuries at Jacobi Hospital in The Bronx. Our fervent hopes go out to her for a full recovery and to her devastated family, father Damien, mother Karen and sister Jamie.
One moment they are enjoying life in their new country where they moved after living in Ireland for eight years. Next their world is transformed and a family is left shattered.
We can imagine the fun of the church carnival the girls were attending, the various amusements, the music, the loud chatter, and then suddenly out of nowhere the dreadful tragedy.
What is left is the picture of a beautiful face, a young girl on the cusp of life, a poignant reminder of how ephemeral this thing called life really is.
The local Irish community too has been hurt. The last great Irish enclave in New York is a neighborly place where most are known to each other, each new arrival is welcomed and a strong and proud Irish spirit prevails.
It has also been a community under pressure, with several recent tragedies and assaults making headlines.
Now comes this, the cruelest blow of all, a death of a young girl and bad injuries to her sister. The Irish rallied as they always do in Yonkers, and 500 showed up for a special vigil the night after the atrocity.
There is nothing but goodness and kindness in everyone’s heart at this dreadful time. The salve of friendship and family is one of the few antidotes to such a tragedy.
But there is also communal sorrow and incomprehension about how such a horrible accident could have occurred.
In the end there are no answers, only the need for love, respect, support and dignity that the family needs at such a time. We know the Irish of Yonkers and Woodlawn will not be found wanting in that respect.
The details of Kalie's funeral have been released by Hodder's Funeral Home on McLean Avenue in Yonkers. The wake will take place on Sunday from 2-9pm at the funeral home. The funeral mass will be on Monday at 10.45am at St. Barnabas High School Chapel. In lieu of flowers that Gill family wishes that donations be made to cover costs of her sister Lindsey's treatment and recovery.
On Thursday St. Barnabas High School established The Kalie Gill Memorial Fund to honor the memory of Kalie Gill and to assist the Gill Family during this tragedy. You can donate to the fund using this link or submit a check to Sr. Joan Faraone, RJM – Principal (St. Barnabas High School, 425 East 240th Street, Bronx, NY 10470).