Twice within six months, August 1997 – March 1998, my family received the phone call that we never expected. My cousin Mia Miller was gunned down on the Northwest side of Milwaukee on a Sunny day in a case of wrong place at the wrong time. She was a beautiful young lady who’d just celebrated her 22nd birthday just a month before. And she left two little girls behind.
Just as the family seemed to have rebound and gotten back into the grove of our normal, the phone rang again. This time my cousin, Theoplis “Pee” Teague III, lost his life to senseless gang violence on Chicago’s Southside on February 27, 1998. He was my childhood running buddy. We’d both just celebrated our 17th birthdays, me in January and him in November.
It was a lot to take in. A hole in my heart that was just beginning to heal had been snatched opened once again. Mia was like an older sister, but Pee was like a twin brother born of another mother. He was the closest thing I had to a brother.
It took a long time for me to get over such a lose in both of them. It was hard seeing my little cousins and know that they will never really have the opportunity to know their mother. I became very withdrawn at family events because my partner wasn’t their. It’s been nearly twenty years since we’ve lost both of them and I still have thoughts of wondering what life would be like if they were still here.
What this family is going through has become so common for so many over the years. In 2015 Milwaukee suffered nearly 200 homicide deaths. And many of them to families that face poverty. And as such they fear the absence from work needed to deal with their own hardship just may be the one that cause the boss to say, “your services are no longer needed.” We have to do better as a people.