Requiem For a Thug.

Jacquard M. Petty 1987-2008, RIP.
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If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend’s or of thine own were: any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.

 

– Meditation XVII, For whom the Bell Tolls, John Donne

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I, myself, have lived a privileged life. I was born to upper-middle, college-educated, white parents with family fabric as thick as the Northern snows of my own big, dirty, steel-making hometown. When I was a kid, I was diagnosed ADDHD, and was subsequently enrolled and graduated through the best classes of a top-notch school system, complete with all the critical classes necessary for the education of a learning-disabled juvenile cyclone. Later – when I sunk a piece of my soul, and all my time, energy and money into a business – only to watch it slowly crater – I had somewhere soft to land. Essentially, I have not always driven the nicest car; but I’ve always had wheels. I may not have always had steak and potatoes- but I’ve never gone hungry. Essentially – I have never, really wanted for anything. Even in the depths of the ‘midnight of my own soul;’ that existential eclipse that is invariably, eventually common to the experience of all who share in experience that is humanity – I have always had to acknowledge the state of my own blessing.

 

I, myself, know an individual who was also born into privilege, such as that far exceeding the boundaries and capabilities of my own. However beneficial to my own comfort  – my own circumstances may have been – that which they were financially gifted with, was in no way equal to my own, to such a degree – that with even a modest amount of proper management – they should have never had to work and perpetually be tasked with the maintenance of a career. This person has totaled more cars  – in number then I shall probably ever drive, and in cost and make, then I will ever be able to afford. They’ve had everything and flitted it all away. I love this person, and I have prayed for their life to be spared, in many a midnight, intercessory prayer – from the savaging winds of the whirlwind that is the fruit of the self-destructive seeds that they have by their own hand sewn against themselves. My eyes are dimmed, even presently, by tears at these cursed words: but true are the still; few shall be my tears for this one  – who could have given so much – and was given so much themselves – when, at last, they take their own life at the hand of their own self-destruction.

 

Another’s eyes are filled with tears tonight; with thoughts of one who had so very little. Far, far less, then my immolating friend, and far less then I, myself.

 

I have a friend, who gave their heart, to the care and love of thugs.  A teacher – who spent years reaching those, and doing everything that she could, to make a difference in the lives of those that to most matter least. Inner-city hoodlums in the worst parts of the city – far from the gingerbread prep and Ivy league-bound educative halls: this is where she thrived. No parents, no future, no opportunities but drugs, and violence, and mental-slavery; to these she gave herself – for so long. To give some degree of hope to those trapped in poverty and hopelessness- this was what she tried to do. Thrice has come the news – another one is dead – and thrice I’ve heard the news, and heard the crack of a heart further break: for those who had nothing and never made it out.

 

I sing the song of a requiem for a thug. Another child, slain on his 21 birthday, by a hand as black as his own.  Cut down in the only streets he ever knew. Buried in the soil of a city, whose streets framed his own mental prison. I am ashamed to have been given so much – and, perhaps, done so little. What do I have to show for what I’ve been given? Have I given a hand to help the one who had nothing, was given nothing, and has had to try to survive on their own?

 

I have a well-worn checklist, of names attached to these children of the street. Sorted from the many prayer requests my friends offered up my own way, for me to likewise make on their behalf. “Pray for ‘such and such,’ they can write their own ticket – they are that good. Basketball or football, either way’s their way out – if they just work hard and stay straight.’ Some did – so many did not, the call of the street was greater.  Damned be those who celebrate a Gansta’s life – Black culture and hood culture do not an equal make. So many of these gutless, talking heads, would not a single, afternoon investment make. My friend spent years. And now the tears.

 

I made the list, for the sake of names – too many to remember in my head. So many prayers for those whom I never met; did I give all that I, myself, could give? What is prayer – without any action; was it my place to give much more? That’s a question that I ask myself – each time a bullet from the street makes its morbid score. But in thus I have, my own self given – so, in thus much – I also take. Prayers offered up for those who have escaped, those who have lived, and those that the violence of the hood their life did take. A prayer, this time, again, in tears, I make.

 

Jacquard, I did not know you – outside of the canvas my friend’s prayer requests did paint. Jacquard, I did pray for you, on your behalf, and so in tears, I grieve for your mistake. You could have found a way out, my friend – it can be done, I know it’s true. The drugs, the gangs, the lure of filth – your blood: the price you paid.  Some two-bit, yodeling rapper said; “get rich – or die trying” and you made his wager and did just such. Could it have been too much to ask – to just live? To just live? I can’t justify the way you wasted your life. But I can justify my tears. You had so little opportunity – unlike me. Cut down so soon. I weep for you. God rest your Soul, Jacquard: my prayer request from the hood.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Neither can we call this a begging of misery, or a borrowing of misery, as though we were not miserable enough of ourselves, but must fetch in more from the next house, in taking upon us the misery of our neighbours. 
Truly it were an excusable covetousness if we did, for affliction is a treasure, and scarce any man hath enough of it. 
No man hath affliction enough that is not matured and ripened by it, and made fit for God by that affliction. 
If a man carry treasure in bullion, or in a wedge of gold, and have none coined into current money, his treasure will not defray him as he travels. 
Tribulation is treasure in the nature of it, but it is not current money in the use of it, except we get nearer and nearer our home, heaven, by it. 
Another man may be sick too, and sick to death, and this affliction may lie in his bowels, as gold in a mine, and be of no use to him; but this bell, that tells me of his affliction, digs out and applies that gold to me: if by this consideration of another’s danger I take mine own into contemplation, and so secure myself, by making my recourse to my God, who is our only security.

 

– Meditation XVII, For whom the Bell Tolls, John Donne

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In Memory of Jacquard M. Petty – offered with respect and honor to his family, and with humble thanks for the God-granted peace, continued grace and unbreaking hope of all the forever nameless ones who work to give those who have so little, something more.

 

Jacquard M. Petty

Born: 7/3/1987

Died: 7/3/ 2008

 

http://www.chattanoogan.com/articles/article_131033.asp

http://www.timesfreepress.com/news/2008/jul/03/chattanooga-early-morning-shooting-victim-dies/