Wayne’s family was already familiar with the physical threat of racism.
In Philadelphia, Miss., where a relative on his father’s side lived decades ago, members of the Ku Klux Klan were known to drive past his house in hoods, family history goes. The relative often had a shotgun in his lap as he sat on his porch.
Generations later, Celestine fell victim to a similar hatred.
The massacre at Tops was unbearable enough. The persistence of racism made the days that followed all the more exhausting.
Wayne was dissatisfied with the answers the country offered. The stagnation of gun control efforts frustrated him, along with the idea that such killings are an inevitable facet of American life. The suggestion that the pandemic has fueled the violence seemed cruel, when his family had suffered so deeply over the past two years.
Wayne’s grandmother was hospitalized after contracting the coronavirus and she died in September 2020. When Celestine was busy, his grandmother had traded him in to raise him.
Neither of them was around anymore.
During the funeral preparations, Wayne’s eyes sometimes fell in no place in particular, and his mind wandered. His children were concerned. How would he fare if his house emptied? When he’d had more time to think about whether things would have been different if he’d woken up earlier that Saturday and visited her.
All that afterwards was for later.
Wayne Jr., 27, stopped by a salon to get some color in his twists. It looked red to his sisters; it had to be pink. The women went on a trip to have their nails done, all in shades of pink. And Wayne argued with his three sons to get fit for their funeral attire of black jackets, white shirts, and pink ties.