Today would have been the 30th birthday of Willie Marquis Turner had he not been murdered six years ago in Charlestown. I spent the day with his family, including his mother Clarissa Turner and sister Chardanney Dozier-Turner. It was 95+ degrees when we pulled up to his graveside and they tied shiny blue "happy birthday" balloons to his gravestone, set out a small cherry-topped cake, and signed greeting cards for Marquis.
I felt privileged to be there to mark this day: a day of both healing and celebrating for this family.
Earlier that morning I interviewed Chardanney, now 20, who described how she felt emotionally paralyzed upon losing her brother at age 14. "I felt stuck, and I wanted to be stuck. I loved stuck." She tried to end her life at age 16, wanting only to be with her brother.
Chardanney then described her journey of healing: "It took a lot of things - therapy, religion, family, positivity - to get where I am. One of the major factors in her transformation was her mother Clarissa, her "superwoman," who turned this tragic event into an opportunity for healing for herself and community by founding a homicide survivor support group called Legacy Lives On.
This is a beautiful family whose story I am graced to tell. What a powerful last shooting day in this five-year journey to make this film.