One of life’s lessons: Chicago’s violent legacy gets personal
Ronnie Chambers Jr. looks down towards his collapsed mother Tahitah Myles during a funeral for the boys father Ronnie Chambers on February 4, 2013 in Chicago. Shirley Chambers of Chicago had four children – three boys and a girl. Now they’re all gone. Her son, Ronnie Chambers. was the last of the single mother’s children ‘ all victims of gun violence in Chicago over a period of 18 years.s. REUTERS/John Gress
Its not every day that an assignment teaches you something about your own childhood.
When I was 7 years old my father, who shared my name, passed away and when I looked down today, I saw a boy, Ronnie Chambers Jr., who is about he same age as I was back then, sitting at my feet with RIP carved in the back of his hair. He was there mourning the loss of his father, who also shared the same name.
Ronnie Chambers Jr. puts his head on the shoulder of his mother Tahitah Myles during a funeral for the boys father Ronnie Chambers on February 4, 2013 in Chicago. REUTERS/John Gress
Tahitah Myles (R) collapses with her friend at her side while viewing the body of Ronnie Chamber, the father of her son Ronnie Chambers Jr., during funeral services on February 4, 2013 in Chicago. REUTERS/John Gress
Ronnie Chambers was shot in the head on January 26th, 2013. His mother Shirley Chambers, has lost all four of her children to gun violence.
Tahitah Myles (hands raised) is comforted during funeral services for Ronnie Chambers, the father of her son, Ronnie Chambers Jr. on February 4, 2013 in Chicago. REUTERS/John Gress
Seeing Ronnie Jr. today caused me to choke up a little, thinking about the parallels between his life and mine. Seeing him move about the church seemingly unaware of the gravity of the situation, explained to me in that moment why all I can recall about my fathers funeral was sitting in my uncles lap during the service and a photo of my father in his casket my mother used to keep in the glove box of her car.
Jenyra Pendleton cries as she and her nephew Carlos Chambers view the body of Carlos’ father Ronnie Chambers during funeral services on February 4, 2013 in Chicago. REUTERS/John Gress
For me, as significant as that day was, to a child it wasn’t much different than many other church experiences we have while navigating through the adult world. The situation today was already emotional for me having met Ms. Chambers last week during an interview. Looking her in the eye and saying my goodbyes, I was left speechless, knowing there was nothing I could do to comfort her in her bereavement, other than a long look of solace and my silence.
Shirley Chambers cries during a funeral for he son Ronnie Chambers on February 4, 2013 in Chicago. He was the last of the single mother’s children – all victims of gun violence over a period of 18 years. REUTERS/John Gress
Shirley Chambers collapses during a funeral for he son Ronnie Chambers on February 4, 2013 in Chicago. REUTERS/John Gress
This article was written by John Gress