Jaleel is buried right next to his paternal grandmother. My father didn’t want to see him lowered into the ground; he said he’s been to this cemetery 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 times and the only plot land left was gonna be for him. My father’s woman said that her family rarely visited their dead at the cemetery, that once it’s done it’s done, but she knows how my father and uncle visit their mother and grandmother’s graves on their birthdays and Mother’s Day and everything, so we’re going to be making a lot of visits.
The limo ride back was nice, though. After all the tears and crying we got to talking about the things we had shoplifted as teens (well, mostly them as teens) and my father’s childhood in Harlem before he had moved to East Elmhurst.
My uncle’s wife was talking about how Harlem used to be in the 70s and 80s and how now it’s all European white people and vegan places and the outrageous prices brownstones are. It turned out that our kind limo driver was also a Harlemite and owns 4 brownstones and told my dad he should’ve bought one back when he had a chance. He and my dad got to talking and it was nice to hearing him laughing and reminiscing.
On the walk to my apartment, my father said that we were going to be spending a lot more time together.
The funeral service was lovely. It must have been dozens and dozens people, past and current coworkers of my father, the maternal family, my father’s motorcycle crew, and so many young people - college and high school aged - and high school teachers, they all came to see Jaleel. He was so loved and admired. Even the pastor had to acknowledge it, so many people going around the block to see Jaleel off, even the Channel 4 news team; the pastor had to remind the people that they were creating a fire hazard.
Before the beginning of the service, I’d tried to stay outside, cry my tears then so I could be strong for my dad. But once the service started (late b/c some many people were stopping by his open casket and openly weeping), the dam burst and the tears couldn’t stop. The pastor didn’t even have to say anything, it was the lyrics of the songs that did it, lyrics about going too soon but being able to see you again when the time comes. Even now I’m still crying.The flower arrangements were in the design of basketballs, and in his open casket was a basketball right next to him. At the times I would think that I saw his eye flutter, that maybe…but no.
During the service, I got one of those prayer cards with Jaleel’s name, photo, and dates on it, so I can keep it in my wallet.
RIP Jaleel Feurtado (Sunrise October 21 1993-Sunset April 4 2014)
RIP Jaleel Feurtado (1993-2014)
despite all my dislike of Jaleel’s mother the woman who fought my mom and tried to convince my father that I wasn’t his, I would never ever have wished for her to see the dead body of his son a good kid so young and to listen to my father sobbing on the phone telling me that my brother was in a car crash “oh god is he all right?” yeah h-he’s going into surgery and finding out that he was already gone and my dad didn’t have the heart to tell me and yelling my mom awake and telling her and seeing her scream and shout because when she met my father Jaleel must have been in his mother’s belly or had already been born and she was crying about how she’d changed his diapers and now he’s gone
after that all my thoughts and comments about Jaleel were never pleasant: when my friend Alex had asked if I had any siblings and I had told yeah a half-brother we share a dad but have separate moms I would add that I didn’t really care what Jaleel or I would subconsciously add my dislike of his mother to his character like they were the same person usually after I would say this Alex would say “Metrez don’t say that that’s your brother” “what? It’s true”
some of the guys in my resource class are obsessed with basketball and would spend class hours just looking up the stats of the college basketball players and saying which one was better and the ability to go pro. I decided to look up my brother’s stats I couldn’t even remember the name of his college just typed his name into Google and hoped something would come up it did and I had looked at his stats and couldn’t tell if they were good or bad and all the photos of him were of him while playing so I couldn’t really make out his face very well but that was him I’d hoped that one of the guys would see what they could of Jaleel and say something about his hair or face like they did with the other players but I was annoyed just looking at the page so I closed out of the window
Sometime around my sophomore year I’d begun to get annoyed whenever he was mentioned how well he was flourishing while I struggled to keep my own head above the water when I had learned a statistic about the odds of successfully joining the nba (they were low) I was giddy at the thought of my brother not making it of being reduced to just another regular person b/c the way my father would talk about him just made him so fantastic like anyone couldn’t play basketball