June 5, 2013 4:18PM
Updated: June 5, 2013 8:50PM
Ashake Banks sits on her bed, iPhone in hand, watching and listening to her daughter, Heaven Sutton, singing a kid’s pop song.
The 7-year-old had taken her mother’s phone and made the video of herself in the bathroom.
For a brief moment, Banks smiles. She sings along. She is proud of her little girl.
When the music stops, Heaven applauds herself, and thanks the “crowd.” Then she steps closer to the camera and says: “Do you love your mom? I love my mom with all my heart. She is in my heart.”
“And I love you too, baby,” Banks replies.
Heaven was fatally shot on June 27, 2012, while standing at her lemonade stand outside her home in the West Side Austin neighborhood.
Heaven’s gym shoes. Her pretty clothes. Her stuffed animals. Her pictures. The video.
This is all Banks has left.
Banks’ heart is shattered. She feels like “less than a mother.” She has contemplated suicide.
“I told Heaven I would protect her, I told her we was super heros or something. I failed her. I did,” Banks says.
“She told me to move, I had the money to move. She told me she was scared to die. How you know you scared to die when you ain’t lived yet?”
These days, little consoles her. A drink, sometimes, especially before she tries to sleep.
Reaching out to other mothers suffering the loss of a child seems to help.
“I go by to see the other mothers because I really just want to hug them and let them feel the energy,” Banks says.
At a recent vigil for Julius Campbell, the 14-year-old found stabbed to death in Marquette Park, Banks wrapped her arms around his mother, Christine Campbell, and held her trembling body as they walked to the edge of the lagoon.
“I tell her, ‘Cry. It’s OK, cry. We ain’t never going to see them no more,’ ” she says.
Heaven’s murder tore Banks apart. She didn’t have enough time with her baby.
“I did not name Heaven Heaven for someone to shoot and kill her at the age of 7,” she says while looking down at a blanket with her daughter’s angelic face staring back.
“I am living hell on earth,” she says. “This is hell.”