Tuesday, February 14, 2012

2,321,400 minutes

Do you remember that song from Rent? In "Seasons of Love," the cast sings, "525,600 minutes, 525,600 moments so dear, 525,600 minutes, how do you measure a year?"

Well, I did a little math and it's been (approx.) 2,321,400 minutes since Nailah Franklin died in September 2007. Her lover was indicted, arrested and jailed, but as of today there still hasn't been a trial.

I haven't forgotten about Nailah Franklin. I didn't know her at all, but her disappearance touched me. The advertising agency she had recently worked for is located less than a mile from mine and many of her former coworkers were asking my fellow commuters if we had seen her, if we were able to help join in the search. She had good girlfriends in the neighborhood where I live, and I saw flyers featuring pictures of her car and its license plate throughout town. I remember thinking how smart the latter was, since parking spaces are at a premium in this village and an abandoned car taking up space would sure as shit be noticed.

The search did not have a happy ending. Nailah was found dead 10 days later.

One year later, her accused killer -- and former boyfriend -- was facing the death penalty. He sounds like a clever guy because, as near as I can tell, he has managed to use that ultimate penalty as a reason to delay his trial. He burned up months and months saying he wanted to represent himself and needed to time to bring himself up to speed on how to do it. Then he burned up months and months saying he is changing his mind and needs a PD. As I understand it, he now has a public defender but that lawyer needs months and months to prepare for trial.

Tick, tick ... Minutes go by that he has on earth. And Nailah remains, forever, gone.

I am against the death penalty on principal and in practice, and this case helps illustrate why. When the state has the ultimate punishment on the table, of course, we want them to be fair and give the accused every possibility to defend himself. But then delays like this happen, and there's no justice for his victim.

And she is who I care about. So I'm going to close with some of the facts I learned about Nailah Franklin, back when her story was in the news regularly. I know it's Valentine's Day and all, but if you get a moment, say a prayer for this girl. She was much loved and deserves to NOT be forgotten.

Nailah Franklin was one of 5 daughters.

She graduated first from Homewood Flossmoor High School and then the University of Illinois.

She spent 5 years at the prestigious ad agency, Leo Burnett.

She moved to Eli Lilly in 2006 because she believed a sales job would help give her greater control over her finances and career.

She loved "all things Oprah."

She loved clothes and had a terrific sense of fashion.

Her mother told the Tribune that she wondered why Nailah "always seemed to be in such a hurry to live life. I think her spirit knew she had such a short time on this Earth and she had to cram in as much living as possible."

An older sister remembers her "little baby voice that she never grew out of, but she was bold and spirited, headstrong and beautiful."

Her father recalls "an exceptionally smart woman" and says that not a day goes by that he doesn't miss her.

A younger sister smiles when she remembers CD/DVD collection because "it was such a reflection of her -- a combination of old school songs by Luther Vandross
and Tae Bo exercise DVDs."

Her youngest sister tried to follow Nailah to Urbana but she wasn't accepte
d. She treasures Nailah's words of encouragement as she applied to other schools. "When we learned she had died, I considered quitting the nursing program. But I remembered how much she believed in me and I thought it was important to keep going."

She volunteered at the Chicago Urban League.She was eulogized as "not a star, but a superstar."

She was just 28 when she died.