Hundreds of people poured into a memorial service Tuesday for the 23-year-old woman who was fatally kicked and beaten as she waited to get into a Santa Ana nightclub with friends.
Just miles away, authorities charged a second woman with murder in the beating death. But at Blessed Sacrament Church in Westminster and a cremation service in Anaheim that followed, the thoughts and prayers of mourners were focused on Kim Pham.
“The departed ones are strong. Those who remain are weaker, our hearts still shocked and sad,” said Bao Trung Nguyen, Pham’s second cousin.
“One of my happiest memories is how my son lights up every time Kim is around,” said Jason Nguyen, her stepbrother. “I always try to have a tough-guy mentality, be the protector of our family, but she was the one who taught me how to let down my guard and to share something beautiful.”
Many who gathered at the memorial said they believe they should forgive those responsible for Pham’s death, so that their lives may be less burdened.
Later, gathered at Melrose Abbey Memorial Park & Mortuary in Anahiem, Pham’s husband led the pallbearers as they carried the casket to a room for cremation. Her father walked ahead of the procession, clutching a bouquet of ivory-colored flowers.
“God has called Teresa Annie Kim Pham back to him,” a priest intoned into a microphone, using the woman’s saint name.
Dung Pham, the victim’s father, said he was touched by the generosity of friends and strangers.
Several people volunteered to videotape Pham’s memorial service as a keepsake. Others offered to provide grief counseling to the family. Pham’s co-workers at the Ink Press, a printing business in Garden Grove, said they would donate proceeds to help cover funeral costs. Access Media, the publisher behind the “Melting Pot of Thoughts” anthology which published Pham’s essays, plan a tribute event for her.
And a Facebook page, Justice for Kim Pham, has garnered 28,000 likes so far.
“We focus on forgiveness,” said Tram Doan, Pham’s stepmother. “Everyone’s life has value.”