A little girl brings together a grieving community
Ruya Kadir was buried on Saturday, a week after her third birthday party.
At a public memorial service in a cavernous Boise Centre ballroom, the mischievous little girl who loved pink and purple, and daisies and roses, was remembered as an angel. A bundle of joy.
Boise Police Chief William Bones, in a pink tie in Ruya’s honor, called her “a brave little girl who brought light to our lives.” City Council President Lauren McLean, in purple for the same reason, said Ruya’s smile contained “that magic that inspires us to be better people.”
But it was Bitfituu Kadir, Ruya’s grieving mother, whose words on Saturday underscored just how much was stolen from her by a stranger with a knife – a man who has been arrested and charged with attacking six children and three adults last Saturday, cutting short her daughter’s life.
Kadir did not directly address the hundreds of friends and well-wishers who came to pay their respects. Instead, her words were read by a family friend, Megan Frances Schwab, who spoke from a lectern a few feet away from where Kadir sat with her husband, Recep Seran, who had arrived from Turkey less than 24 hours earlier.
“She was my everything,” Kadir wrote. “She was my world. And if no one stopped me, I could talk forever about my Ruya. She was a gift from God. … She came to us on her birthday, and she left on her birthday. Her name in Turkish means dream. And she came to us like a dream.”
Kadir and Ruya arrived in the United States on Dec. 17, 2015. Kadir is a refugee from Ethiopia, who first fled to Turkey before landing in Boise. Turkey is where she and Seran were married. Where Ruya was born. And where Seran remained until he was granted an expedited visa so he could come to see his daughter.
“While we lived here alone, she would sometimes come to take care of me, and ask me how I was doing,” Schwab read. “She had never got to see her father. She left [Turkey] when she was four months old. She saw her father through the phone. But she had a chance to meet him before she left us.”
Ruya was stabbed on June 30, when police say a California transplant named Timmy Earl Kinner Jr. rampaged through the Wylie Street Station Apartments, attacking the birthday girl and eight others. Ruya’s wounds were so deep and severe that she was airlifted to Salt Lake City. She died there on Monday.
Under Muslim tradition, burial occurs as soon as possible after death. But Kadir wanted her daughter and her husband to be together one last time. Attorneys from the International Rescue Committee worked feverishly with Sen. Mike Crapo, Sen. Jim Risch and Rep. Mike Simpson’s offices to help Seran obtain a visa and attend his daughter’s funeral.
“The family was able to spend time with the child and prepare her body,” Julianne Donnelly Tzul, executive director of the IRC’s Boise operation, told reporters before the memorial. “It was a group of people together, and the mom was a part of that.”
Donnelly Tzul said Ruya’s parents are “hurting immensely.” She said Seran wanted to make sure that Ruya’s grave is prepared properly.
“He is imagining spending time with her,” Donnelly Tzul said. He wants her “to be respected and loved. He wants a stone in place so that no one will stand on her.”