HUNTSVILLE, Ala. -- On this day last year, Akayla Tabor and her siblings were attending a Light the Night Halloween festival at Central Assembly of God on Sparkman Dr. in Huntsville. While attempting to cross the street, Akayla was struck by a car and killed.
Rachael Tabor endured a horrific loss, the loss of a child. But she doesn't shy away from her grief, "We allow ourselves to talk about her, it's not a hush-hush thing," she explained as we sat in her living on the anniversary of her daughter's death.
Tabor said Halloween was a favorite of Akayla's, particularly because she loved to play dress up. "She had a wonderful kind spirit, she was just amazing, she was an amazing kid," she explained.
The tragedy has cast a shadow over the holiday for Tabor and her three kids.
"I don't think we're really going to go out anymore. If we do decide to do things, it'll be something where we're inside, away from the street," she said.
Central Assembly of God church, whose event Akayla was attending that night, has decided to discontinue their Halloween celebration this year. But Tabor said she hopes it isn't forever.
"Community functions like that are good places for children to be instead of out in the street, doing things that they shouldn't be doing, but I'm appreciative of the thought behind that. That's very beautiful," she explained.
It's been a long year for the Tabor's, but she said she's taken away a few things she wants to share with other parents. "I know things happen when they're supposed to happen, but you have to still let them live, even though it's scary out there. Always tell them that you love them, so that neither of y'all can question that."
It's a mindset that's gotten her to today. "Make the best of the situations that you have no matter the circumstances," said Rachael.
It's a loss no parent should have to endure, and a somber reminder of what can happen as more children are on the streets on Halloween. Tabor knows there probably isn't anything she could have done differently, but she encourages parents and trick or treaters to take every safety precaution tonight.
"Wear bright colors at night, make sure whatever pathways you're walking across are always clear. If you're not sure don't move, wait until you feel comfortable," she said.
Tabor asks that everyone participating in Halloween tonight just be courteous to each other. "Be a mindful pedestrian, be mindful drivers. We know that this a night that children are all over the place. Either go home, or drive slower, just as a precaution," she explained.
Police increase their patrols in neighborhoods and monitor crosswalks more closely on Halloween night. Tabor said they do a good job, but "I'd like to see more lights and crosswalks go up around the city, especially in darker areas where there's long stretches of invisibility."
Tabor said her family will spend tonight together, watching Halloween movies and making a trip to Akayla's memorial.