we became friends
venida and me
we went to dinners
charity events – saw a show
e mailed back n forth

we had many things in common
lost r moms at 11
both foster moms
adoptive moms
heart attack survivors

she died yesterday
in harlem
heart attack
her 2 nd one

she told me how taxing it was
visiting kalief at RIKERS
it is a long walk – from the buses
through the maze of tunnels
the waiting
it was hard physically for her
to get to see her teenage son
who committed no crime

she had me in her home for tea
and now she is gone
her already cracked heart – broke for good
how could it not?

no – u cant steal my kid
lock him up
no reason
no proof

i am so beyond sad …
a mothers son
stolen off nyc streets placed into hell

16 – 17 – 18
u cage – torture – rape
then u let him out
no services
no counseling
no help

and despite many efforts
including mine
he left this earth
with a 3.7 GPA

and a noose around his neck

so now venida –
as u hold peanut in ur arms –
tell him he is a man of dignity and grace –
i am inspired by him daily

i love u both
mother n son
u have forever changed me
venida browder
and her baby boy kalief


1000 nights
June 8, 2015 | Edit

the tonys r finished
and tears fell freely
as kelli ohara reminded me
we humans need each other

i read a story
in the new yorker
so gut wrenchingly raw
i wrote the author

she connected me
with kalief
an adopted boy
my owns son age

he just finished his first year of college
he did very well
i am proud
of my sons

which one landed in my lap
what radom act of god
placed u in my path
the two of us

so in a suit
he showed up at the view
shiny and sweet
i hugged him tight

1000 days and nights
in adult prison
2 years in the hole
tortured raped starved

just sixteen years old
when he was stolen
off the streets
put in a cage

i hold him
i touch his head
i tell him he is beautiful
he is

i love him
i microwave intensity love him
i vow to the light i will keep him safe
sign my name to his soul

like so many others
cheering him on
thru the darkest of tunnels
toward the sun

his mom who adopted kalief –
her youngest boy
the 7th of 7
who found him hanging yesterday

outside the window
of the apartment they shared
the electric cord
his noose

he came to my home for dinner
smiling from deep down
he told me he met jay z
this one – i thought – would be spared

against all odds
this man child
who refused to say he stole
when he did not

this kalief –
was made of strong stuff
a leader – a prince
a son – 24601

he had a birthday last week
got him an amazon gift card
thursday night – in la
i bumped into jay z

i thanked him for meeting kalief
for reaching out
how maybe
we could help him further

i texted kalief
that i saw jay n kanye
and we spoke about HIM
his greatness

yesterday at 11:03
he texted me

K – Srry rosie i need sum time to myself

R – ok no problem !!! be well

K – Mental struggles thanks for understand

R- totally get it – i am a text away if u
need anything – peace – i love u

an hour later he was gone
i wish i had called
that i had soothed his fears
calmed his traumatized brain

tonight alone
back in my home
i realize
he is home too

1000 days
kalief survived
yesterday he surrendered
part of me has gone with him

my son
our sons
1000 days


  1. Terri says:

    I am totally heartbroken over the loss of Ms Venida. I’ve followed Kalief’s story since the beginning. It’s a scary world we live in. One day you’re walking done the street minding your own business, next thing being accused of a bogus crime you didnt commit & being thrown in jail. I’m the Mother of a 5 yr old brown boy, as he grow older, these are my very concerns for him. I do believe Kalief is a prophet, a martyr who made a sacrifice for a cause much greater than himself. I will…


    when is there going to be justice for people , no matter the color the economic standing
    were is the peace were is the balance .
    Jay z was right when he said judgement is the death of compassion.
    Kalief was strong enough to stand his ground never to be broken .He was a prophet and he is at peace and his mom is now with him.
    We are the losers. We need to make change

  3. Jen says:

    Governor Cuomo is a democrat. Senators Schumer and Gillibrand are democrats. District 14 Representative Joe Crowley is a democrat. If you want Rikers closed you should start with your own political party. People are tired of their votes getting taken for granted and nothing getting done. Good luck. God Bless Kalief.

  4. Laura says:

    My heart is breaking and my eyes stinging with tears. This world has needlessly become so very hard to live in. I am so sorry. We at least try to carry the burden with you.

  5. Candace Pfau says:

    It’s just too much. Too much. Just lost another baby to neuroblastoma and now Kalief’s mother. Comforting to know mother and son are reunited.

  6. Cindy says:

    Beautiful. Thank you for sharing the story of Kalief and his mom. Stay strong Rosie. Sending love and healing to you.

  7. Nancy says:

    I am very sorry for your loss. And I’m sorry this shitstorm is occurring for you and our country.

  8. Alison aka Alderella says:

    Heart is breaking. Thank you for picking up the fight and message for Kalief’s Mom. Many Mom-hearts can get things done. Please make sure that your tender heart is also protected from the sh*tstorm of the upcoming weeks. I know things will come right, but the silliness of the season will likely ramp up before it settles down. Peace to you, loving warrior.