Diarrah Sadler stood on the steps of her home and listened as family and friends remembered her daughter, Diamond Ward, who turned 16 on Dec. 29 — a celebration that will be remembered as her last.
Red and white candles lined the fence of Sadler’s yard and were held in the hands of about 40 people as they shared their favorite memories of Diamond, a Buccholz High School student who committed suicide Tuesday.
“It hurts me that my love wasn’t enough for her,” Sadler, 40, said.
Diamond’s body was found by her 13-year-old brother after he went into her room to look for his shoes.
“He opened the door and saw her, and she had hung herself,” Sadler said. “He yelled, and I ran into her room, and there she was. It was absolutely horrible.”
Sadler said she had made plans with her daughter to go to the grocery store, watch a movie and do her hair.
“We made plans for the next day,” she said. “I don’t understand how she ended up doing this.”
But she has a feeling it was instigated by bullying at her school. She could have felt like she had no other choice, Sadler said.
“I don’t understand why she could feel like that, because I loved her — I love her so much,” she said.
At the vigil, 18-year-old Shidae Williams, a close friend of Diamond’s, spoke about her own struggles with bullying and trying to commit suicide at 11 years old.
“If I knew my best friend was being bullied, I would have got her help immediately,” she said.
Williams encouraged people to get help if they’re being bullied, and she said she never suspected Diamond was having such a tough time.
“My best friend killed herself,” she said. “It is hurting me — I don’t understand it.”
Gloria Peace, 54, a family friend, said she found out about Diamond’s death Friday after returning from a trip.
She said she became close to the teenager after she chose her for a lead model position in a fashion show she’s organizing for February.
“She began to call me Auntie,” Peace said.
Peace said she visited the family once after Thanksgiving and promised to return, but she never will.
“I said, ‘Diamond, I’ll be back,’” she said. “I said, ‘You’re gonna see me soon,’ and I never made it back. That’s the only thing I regret right now.”
Peace expressed sadness at the high presence of bullying at Buchholz.
“It’s really going on — it’s so deep, she said.”
Sadler said Ward was just trying to fit in and find herself. She described Diamond as a superstar, and someone who was loving and always wanted to make people smile.
With tears in her eyes, Sadler said she will never be able to see Diamond grow up and accomplish things in her life.
“If you’re being bullied, talk to someone,” she said. “Don’t think you’re alone — you’re not.”
To close the vigil, everyone formed a circle and said a prayer. Then, together, they said, “We love you, Diamond.”