Tears. The piano played hauntingly, the soloist’s voice floating above the tears and sorrow inside this airy sanctuary on a somber Wednesday morning. Tears for Marquise. Tears for all Chicago children shot or slain. Agony and rivers of bitter tears.
Endless tears over the gunfire that crackles across this bleeding city, claiming the innocent and young with no relenting. That steals our children almost from the cradle.
That now rings with numbing normalcy and largely is reduced to the weekend newspaper round-up. That robs us all of hope and humanity, leaving a trail of carnage wrought by evil.
Not by guns. But by miscreants who wantonly pull the trigger in what seems to be the worst of times, where none are safe. A world where rage and moral decay and bullets leave a trail of blood. And tears.
Tears fell inside the Faith Community of St. Sabina, where a life-size cutout of Marquise L. Richardson reflected in bright white light near his casket, smiling and clad in a button-down white shirt and deep blue bowtie. And the piano played…
The hands of Christ and the gold-lighted JESUS sign formed the backdrop for this agonizing and also celebratory occasion. Mourners sat inside, the back of one young man’s white T-shirt emblazoned with the words in blue script: “Long Live Marquise.”
Except Marquise is dead.
Reportedly shot twice in the head on July 29, while sitting in a parked car in front of his home, in the 1600 block of West Waseca Place, when someone in another car reportedly opened fire, wounding Marquise and an unidentified 29-year-old man. Marquise died two days later.
He was a smiley kid. He had nothing to do with nothing. Affectionately called “Quise,” he was Ashley Adams’ firstborn. A caring big brother. A loyal friend. A schoolboy.
In June, he graduated 8th grade at St. Sabina Academy. Five days later, he turned 14. About a month later, he was gone. No major headlines. No pause in this city’s summer body count. No stagger in the pulse of life in this murderous city.
No media. No cameras. No public chronicling of mourning here at Marquise’s service. Only family. Teachers. Friends. Among them Marquise’s classmates and his little brothers.
As I walked into the sanctuary, ingesting the crowd of young people, Marquise’s casket, and the life-sized smiling cutout, tears filled my eyes, then overflowed. Overwhelmed that after more than 30 years of covering this story, we are still burying our children.
I sat there, angry with God. Until the preacher and others who spoke said again and again that this is not God’s fault... I know it is not. But it makes no damn sense.
As the air blew cold, the preacher shared words of comfort, even as family consoled one another with pats on the back, another Kleenex, an embrace. Father Michael L. Pfleger spoke fondly of Marquise’s love for old-school music, particularly rap, and for old-school cars.
He shared memories of Marquise as a “teacher,” as a kind soul who loved to tell jokes, even if they weren’t always funny. Of his love for football. About the “deep impact he made” in his few years. Then, in fiery tones, he called for an end to Chicago’s violence.
There were prayers. And tears. Laughter. And tears.
Grief, anger, disillusionment, and tears.
“Welcome home, Marquise,” Pfleger intoned in the end. “Welcome home. We’ll see you in the morning.”
The song, “Melodies From Heaven” played as Marquise’s blue casket was ushered down the middle aisle to the front door, into the bright light, where pallbearers carried him down the church’s stairs to an idling hearse soon bound for the cemetery.
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