"The hardest thing for me that saturday she died was that for the first time in my life i was alone. I'd finally grown up. I have my children, I have my friends, but I didn't have a mother or a father. That was the hardest thing in my life. When she was here, I was still her little girl."
With a circle of neighbors looking on, councilwoman Carol Wood opens her heart about the tragedy that has changed her life forever.
Days ago, her mother and next-door neighbor, beloved community activist Ruth Hallman, was beaten to death in her own home.
Wood talks about a life cut short.
"On the table [in her house] were coupons, a grocery list, a list of garage sales. And then there was a yellow tarp with her blood underneath it, and her glasses were on the floor," Wood remembers. "Knowing she laid there, not knowing how long, that was really hard."
Hallman was attacked on Wood's birthday, and in Hallman's home, Wood found the birthday card her mom had not yet given her.
"I cannot exist without you," Hallman wrote, that message now haunting Wood.
But Wood has faith in the police and passion for the public. She's received more than 300 cards, countless bouquets of flowers and-- above all else-- encouragement.
"No matter what happened here, this neighborhood is still a good neighborhood. It'll survive. It's survived before, and it will do it again."
But it will have to survive without Hallman, and that's bound to be difficult. Her presence alone in the Genesee neighborhood was a guiding light during some stormy times.
For wood, of course, the absence now is exceptionally painful.
"Yes, I do," she says. "I do feel cheated. That back door isn't going to open at 5:30 with Sunday dinner anymore. In fact, that back door will never open again. I just have this huge void in my life at this point."