Uncovering Secrets

There was a piece of paper folded in half four times. It was white with dingy edges smeared with finger prints. I don’t know why I kept it. Why I placed it in a drawer of my bureau. Why, when I initially  opened it, I only saw the list of methadone clinics and my father’s signature dated November 4, 2013 at the bottom of the page.

Last week I went back to this piece of paper. I reexamined the pile of my dad’s personal belongings. I opened his black book bag with its mountain of papers and a folder of 4 inch think print outs of prescription medication. I decided to keep it along with the bio-hazard bag with his cell phone from the emergency room. There were so many questions to be answered and I am not sure I was even ready yet to accept that he engaged in homosexual activities to feed his addiction.

This piece of paper, upon closer inspection, was not just a list of methadone clinics. I was too engulfed in the planning of my father’s cremation that I didn’t give it much of a look until that day. It was only a tentative list of places to go to when he needed to get a fix when he couldn’t buy the street serum. They were clinics with FDA approved medication he can take when he needed to wean himself off. That piece of paper I held was proof that four weeks before his death, he was trying to get clean. My father placed his name on the waiting list of a rehabilitation center.  He made his last attempt to finally leave that shit behind.

As I held the paper and looked at the non-script signature that was listed on many personal documents, I wondered if he knew his time was coming. And I wondered if he looked back on his life? If he’d change anything? If he ever thought about his four children?

***

Once, my father sent me a text message during the summer of 2012.

“Tu tienes una hermanita”

A picture of a dark-skinned little girl about two years old, tight curls, a squished nose and deep-set black eyes filled my screen. That’s not my sister. She looks nothing like us.

I didn’t answer him back immediately. Instead I went to my mother’s house and for reasons that are quite unclear to me since I know all of her stories of the man she had four children with are filled with venom. I showed her the text and then the picture.

“Eso no es tu hermana”  She shook her head as she examined the phone from over the frames of her glasses.

I wasn’t sure how I felt. If that comment was my mother being sarcastic with a hint of jealousy. Or if she was just informing me that she knew my dad well enough to recognize his DNA in another child’s face.  Did she wear “I’m his only baby momma” crown proudly? Did she strut around her kitchen showing it off to me?

***

He had just purchased a cup of coffee and a butter roll. He walked to the stoop outside of the store and sat to eat his breakfast. He stayed in this position for 15 minutes before another man noticed that my father was not responsive to the conversation they were having. The ambulance was called and he was pronounced dead on arrival but the medical team cut his clothes and performed resuscitation procedures. I’m only guessing they did. I wasn’t there but why else would they cut his clothes off?

***

I met one of my father’s peoples. A smaller than average woman with skin so wrinkled she looked like she shouldn’t be able to walk she looked so old. Her voice was harsh revealing she smoked two packs of cigarettes a day. She was no taller than four feet nine inches. I was able to see the top of her head when I  stood next to her.

“Nothing better happen to me tonight. Or I’ll make sure to come back and find you.” I looked her dead in her face as she slipped into the passenger seat. The smell of ashtray and stale cigarette butts began to sting my nose. I opened the window.

“No te preocupes. Tu padre era uno de mi major amigo. Yo te ayudo”

She showed me the abandoned homes he slept in. I followed her behind opened windows and unlocked doors looking for Juan’s personal belongings. I watched how she moved. I montiored how she looked over her shoulder, how she knocked on each door three times, whose name she yelled prior to entering. I made note of who was watching me from the streets. We walked through black alley ways of cat urine and rat shit. We entered apartments with the smell of roach infestation and opened closet doors to empty storage spaces.

We found black garbage bags filled with clothes that were miraculously clean. Pants were folded with creases. Leather coasts handled with care and placed at the bottom of the bag. Shirts were pressed and Jordans showed no evidence of wear and tear. My father never looked homeless and no one knew that he ever was. I didn’t even know.

When we returned to the car, Mirtha finally revealed that he was thrown out in the streets by the woman he used to live with. The mother of that little girl he called his own. She said he cried hard for days. Not for the lost relationship but he cried for the little girl. He mourned the little one that was not biologically his. He hurt for the little girl whose eyes and nose and tight curls did not say she was a Lopez.

She filled in the details of the woman possibly having HIV, and cheating on my dad and then eventually kicking him out to be with another man. I watched her baby sized hand with over grown knuckles move back and forth through the freezing air. They held another lit Newport. Again I wondered if he ever cried for his four children. If he hurt when we were taken from him?

***

This past January of  2014 was one of the coldest winters New Jersey has seen in the last 40 years. The Newark airport was buzzing with travelers and I was waiting in  line with a bag filled with my dad’s ashes.

Puerto Rico is beautiful this time of year. The weather is still hot enough to go swimming in its beaches and the humidity is close to nothing.  I’ve decided to return my father to his birth place but first I had to get through security with the remains of a man I never knew.

 

Nine Reasons Why I Stayed

My social media feeds have been overrun with links to articles discussing the Ray Rice domestic violence scandal. I’ve read many that were only concerned with why did the fiancé- who quickly became the wife- stay. No one seemed to be asking why Ray Rice punched her in the face. Instead, everyone wants to know why the abused stayed with her abuser.

Here are a few reasons why I stayed:

  1. Because my mom stayed:

I was 12 years old and hanging out in the bedroom I shared with two of my younger sisters when I heard my mother scream.

“Yiso llama la policia!”

We were all used my mother yelling and arguing and spitting venom to her then boyfriend. The father of the then youngest child. Number 7 to be exact. But she’s never said to call the cops.

So I ran across the linoleum floors of the kitchen that was directly outside of my room’s door. Across the pink rugs in the living room and stopped at the top of the 14 stairs looking down at the two fighting adults. My mother with her short platinum blonde hair and skin-tight pink jumper tussling back and forth with the brown Cuban. He was her height, pointed nose and he had hair like the men of my foster parents home. He was the first black man I ever met that was not “black” and couldn’t speak English.

His back was against the wall with the window and two feet from the exit. We didn’t have a house phone. We barely had any extras in the house that didn’t fall under a necessity to live like food, clothes and water. And there were even times when the level of things we had could still be considered not enough. Especially with 7 mouths to feed.

I had to find a way pass these two. The Cuban’s right hand was holding the revolver my brothers and I played with a few times. It was hidden in a hole in the wall in the basement of the laundry room. If I recall correctly, the hole was covered by a thin white sheet or pillow case. If you stepped on a stool and pulled it back, the revolver just laid there. It wasn’t hidden. It wasn’t even in a box. It had to be loaded since there was never a box of bullet anywhere near it, but once there was a street fight where the Cuban used it. We sat in the car while he ran back to the block to shoot someone. Then we sped off onto Rt.80.

My mother was trying her best to place her body in front of the Cuban who held that gun ready to pull the trigger.

“Yiso, vete, llama la policia”

We never had the cops come to the house for a domestic violence issue.  At least not to my knowledge. My siblings and I just went on our business of keeping quiet and trying not to fight or kill each other. We never spoke about the ripped shirts the Cuban would walk out the house with as he called my mother names and slammed the front door taking the only car we had. We never mentioned the scratches on his neck or the  marks on my mother’s neck from his plumber hands choking the shit out of her. We were used to the black liner running down her face when she woke in the morning. We never said anything because all of their fights eventually led to the two of them having make up sex that can be heard throughout the house. It was so loud  we’d drown it out by turning up the TV or the radio, which eventually led to us getting yelled at for making too much noise.

Now there I stood,  the one person she called, to run pass the  scene that played in front of me. I was supposed to run down these 14 steps and out the door right next to the hand with the gun. I saw my mother grab his wrist with the metal killer and force it to her abdomen.

I ran out the door.

The pay phone was a block away from the house and next to the bodega where we’d buy junk  food either on the way to school on the way back.

“My mother is in a fight with her boyfriend. He’s hitting her”

I did not say anything about the gun.

The next morning, or even a few days later, we were walking down the hill to one of my mother’s friend’s house. We each had a bag of personal belongings.

She left him after that night. After a 5 year relationship.

The Cuban wasn’t her last.

 

  1. Because I loved him

My son’s father slapped the shit out of me Thanksgiving day of 1999. My son was a marshmallow of good feelings and giggles and fat fingers. He was in my arms when the cinnamon colored cigarette scented hand hit my left cheek. I braced myself so I wouldn’t fall. I heard every vertebrate in my neck crack in my left ear.

There was an audience present. No one said anything. This wasn’t our first argument and it wasn’t the first time were  physically abusive to each other. Once he walked out of the low-income building with a 4 inch scratch on his neck. Bloody and raw. I reached to grab  him in the middle of a fight. It was about a letter I found to some girl at his new high school. I was 17.

He walked away with the pit we both loved to see this girl and I waited for his return. I forgave him because I loved him

 

  1. Because I believed he would change:

I forgave him because he always apologized. And things would cool down for a bit but it never lasted very long.

Even after our son was born and I moved out on my own, he’d sit on my bed and say he’s ready to change. Say he’s sorry for everything that happened. That he couldn’t live without me or the baby. I was 20.

But he never changed. He never followed through with empty promises. And the fighting escalated to the point where he couldn’t be in the same house with me. And he drank. And he spent all his money. But he’d always apologize and each Monday morning brought some type of relief that this week would be different. It never was.

He  would walk into the apartment and go about the weekly Sunday routine. Cook dinner, clean house, laundry, walk the dogs. Last night never happened but there’s a permanent scar on my left butt cheek.  I was 28.

 

  1. Because I blamed myself:

I asked for stability. I asked for help with the nightly bottles, the crying baby, the support to finish my education. I was 19

I expected to meet his mother after two years of dating. I expected progress. I wanted to be acknowledged. I was 22.

I asked for a plan. A blueprint of where this was going. I asked where were you last night and why is there a woman I don’t know of calling my home. I was 26.

I asked for too much. I nagged too much. I made him hit me. I pushed him to call me out of name, pull my hair and smack my face.

 

  1. Because of fear

Once, he took out all of his aggression out on me. His parents were getting divorced after 20 years. I was finally packing my things and moving to a dorm room on a campus 2 hours away. The night before I left he sensed that I wasn’t coming back. An argument ensued about cheating that hadn’t even taken place. About boys I had yet to meet. He grabbed me and to the floor I went and his 9.5 timberland boot came swooping across the rug and into my ribs. His mother, his aunt and a cousin just watched. I was 14.

By the time I celebrated my 27th birthday, a woman I just met made a comment I would never forget.

“She looks like she likes to get hit”

I wondered if I wore my history on my face. Did it really communicate that the abuse I put up with was because I liked it?

 

  1. Because I had nowhere to go:

I held on to him because I had nowhere to turn. It was either deal with an abusive mother or deal with an abusive boyfriend. I was 12. I was 15. I was 19. I was 22. I was 27.

 

. 7. Because no one saw the bruises:

They were all internal. I didn’t bruise easily. I had “thick” skin. I carried my shame in my journal. I carried it in my chest. It burned and churned until one day I said no more. I was 28.

 

  1. Because I wanted to be loved:

He was the only one to tell me he loved me. The only one. Ever.

 

  1. Because I didn’t want to be the reason my home was broken:

In my world, broken homes result in broken children, who grow into broken adults, who build broken homes, who raise broken children, who grow into broken adults, who build broken homes….

My marshmallow grew up and continues to grow with a single mother. A mother who isn’t perfect and has definitely made some questionable decisions.  But my home is not broken. It is not twisted with hate and violence.

I’ve taken the time to patch the holes in the walls, lined the windows to keep out the cold. I’ve taken the time to wash the walls of old scents and added a fresh coat of paint. I’ve taken the time to look in the mirror at the woman looking back at me and I’ve learned to love her.

    ***

There are countless reasons why the abused stay with their abusers. If you don’t believe me, Twitter is buzzing with many of those reasons under the hash tag  #whyistayed. Go check them out. There are faces to those posts. This is real. It happens every day. Ray Rice is just another athlete who’s in the spotlight and initially given a slap on the wrist. I’m baffled why the NFL would need to see the video of him actually punching his wife before taking real action. Because somehow seeing the video of him dragging the unresponsive body out of the elevator wasn’t disturbing enough.

Perhaps Janay Palmer’s reason was financial security like the reports and blogs are insinuating. Who knows. But who the fuck are we to judge? Who am I to judge?

There is never an easy black and white answer to why women stay in an abusive relationship. (Or why men stay) It’s time we stop asking the abused why they stay and start asking the abuser why they abuse.

Cause Of Death

White Roses

I read the first page of the autopsy report and was not at all surprised. However, I asked questions out loud to no one in particular or perhaps to my imagined medical examiner.

“So let me get this straight. You mean to tell me my father didn’t mean to kill himself? It was an accident? So had he taken a shot that wasn’t as potent, he may still be alive to continue to play chicken with his life?”

“So by accident, you mean no one murdered him? Are you insinuating that he held the needle himself? What about his supplier? He or she isn’t to blame? No? Maybe you’re right. He was an adult after all. He was old enough to make conscious decisions about the use of illegal drugs. And if you’re making a final decision using that logic, why not rule it a suicide? What parameters do you need to be met in order to classify it as a suicide? A good-bye note? Written to whom? He was homeless.”

“I mean, think about it, could it not be considered suicide if he was intentionally shooting up heroine? That’s like drinking a cup of full proof Clorox, not surviving it and saying it’s an accident because no one left a note. My father just liked the taste of bleach. He was an addict. He walked the road of a slow suicide. What case do you know of where a heroin addict, who fought rehab, didn’t end in death? Do you really list them all as accidents?”

Whatever his reasons were for using, his addiction led to his death. I guess for legal purposes his death had to be labeled an accident. It wasn’t murder. Case closed.

***

The Report:

It stated that my father was a man who was well-developed and overweight with missing teeth. He had none. For his age off 55 years old, at the time of death, he was normal.

It said he had a tattoo on his neck. Really? What kind of tattoo I wondered. I read the description a few times making sure that perhaps they were not referencing the one on his lower right arm. The one that said Jane. The medical examiner wasn’t referencing that one. They made note of one I never knew he had.

The examiner used the phrase “grossly unremarkable” a few times. At first I was offended wanting to pick up the phone and ask the examiner why he or she felt the need to disrespect my father. As if they have never seen any other corpse in worst condition. However, Google saved me from what could have been a mortifying moment. The phrase simply means that by observation of organs and body by means of eyes or hands, you noted nothing out of the ordinary. Most of his examination was “grossly unremarkable” except for his heart. This makes sense since his book bag had nine bottles of prescribed medication for a plethora of heart conditions.

Part of me was hoping that the cause of death would have been “heart break” and manner of death listed as “years of neglect”, “from missing his children”, or “from losing the love of his life”.

I don’t know. I’m the hopeless fatherless daughter that wanted someone to say he died because he missed his children. I always believe that, if he or if we made an attempt, a full genuine attempt to heal that history, he might have had the power to walk away from the heroin. But then again, heroin is that one poison that made him feel things when nothing else in this world could have. I’ve once heard a man compare it to the best blow job he’s ever had. How can I, or my brothers and sister, compete with a blow job?

***

Final Findings:

  • Infarct of left Kidney
  • Congenital Heart defect-repaired
  • Atherosclerotic and hypertensive cardiovascular disease
  • Isolated thrombus of right middle lobe of lung
  • Abrasions and contusions and lacerations of scalp

The toxicology report found morphine in both his blood and urine.  The cause of death was an acute intoxication of heroin, hence the reason why everything was “grossly unremarkable”. Your eyes and hands weren’t going to find heroin sitting on his organs screaming “dude, I did it. Arrest me.”

***

 It blows my mind. How his body was found outside of the bodega on the block we can safely label as his stomping grounds. He sat slumped over unresponsive on a stoop that caught him nodding quite a few times. The same stoop where he allowed his lips to tell the streets that his kids were “unos cabrones” for not taking care of him in his last days.

I’d like the streets to know that he was the parent. He walked away. He made almost no attempt to be with us. At least that was how the story was painted for me for many years. And upon his death-bed, I was the first one the streets called to claim him. I claimed him when he never once claimed me.

The Storm Brought More Than Snow, It Brought Along Some Perspective

          Hercules, the first snow storm of 2014, crawled into the NJ area from the mid-west this past Thursday evening. It left about 6-8 inches of snow in the Newark area. Temperatures then commenced to drop to  6 degrees by the Friday night’s drive home from work.

         The cold air bit at my fingertips, leaving them numb immediately after I stepped out of my car, which I parked a block from the apartment I rented. By the time I got home and was kissed by the 68 degree heat, that nestled my son while he played the PS3, my fingertips were pink with a blue under tone. The warmth began to cook them and the blood under my skin felt like corn oil popping on a hot skillet.

DSCN0482

          As I took off my coat and unpacked my computer bag, I remembered my father. I remembered that he was homeless before he died. I remembered that I am grateful he no longer had to live that life. His fate has already been sealed and he’ll never have to worry about where he was sleeping at night. Where he’d be kicked out of come 7 am and spend the next 12-15 hours pounding the pavement looking for the next place he was able to rest his head.

          My father did not get to walk across the crisp white morning snow. He didn’t get to listen to the crunch and crackle beneath his feet. He didn’t get to witness the past marked in the foot prints he would have left behind him. He never got to see the shards of ice that the freezing temperatures left in the new snow that were sharp enough for prison inmates to use as weapons.

          He’ll never have to watch the vapors of his breath leave his mouth to warm his hands as he rubbed them together shifting his weight from one foot to another. Or walk from one end of town to another stopping at corners to pan handle.

          He’ll never have to make another appointment with welfare or social security seeking emergency assistance while using an abandoned home as his address.

         There won’t be any more doubling up of socks to protect his toes laced with track marks. No more shuffling through the multiple garbage bags left in multiple dwellings in search for thermals. There will be no more thoughts of where his next meal will come from or the selling of his food stamps for cash.

          He’ll never have to chase the free methadone medication with a sniff of the real shit to deal with the cold. Or fill another HIV prescription or swallow another heart pill. He’ll never have to deal with the weak walls of his heart, the children he never saw, the failed relationships, and his father’s funeral he never attended.

          He’ll never have to worry about being homeless again or the things he carried. He was called home before Hercules had the chance to know his name.

         It’s been tough knowing that I’ll never get to see him again. I’ll never get to give him the letter I’ve been writing and revising for almost two years. I’ll never even get the chance to have him walk me down the aisle one day. But as I grieve his death, I am constantly reminded that he’s in a better place. Even if being in a better place is cliché for others who grieve, I’ve come to accept it as the better alternative.

My Year in Books – 2013

The year 2013 was a pretty quiet year. So we’ll celebrate my year in books.- what I read, why I read them and what I thought of them. There were 18 listed on my GoodReads account but I chose a few to address.

 

 1. To the End of June: The Intimate Life of American Foster Care by Cris Beam.

Til the end of June

*Because I am a former foster child. In my research to piece together the rhyme and reason of my tenure in the system,  I came across this book and thought would give me some insight. Everyone does research prior to writing a book or personal essay. This book was part of the research process.

** I finished the book but was not fulfilled. I still felt empty. I got a small glimpse of some of the history of foster care in America and how high profiled political cases effect the laws governing the system, but I was looking for more of a personal story that didn’t turn into your stereotypical ending. It leaned heavily on the personal political opinion of the author.

 

 2. The Devil Finds Work by James Baldwin

* It’s James Baldwin… need I say more.

** I read it twice. His lyrical criticism of the films of his time is incredible. I wish he was still alive to break down the issues of today’s media and entertainment industry. What would he say of the roles of minorities in film, the Beiber-fangasms, Miley’s Twerk, Django’s message and how the first African-American president is portrayed in the main stream.

 

 3. Boricuas: Influential Puerto Rican Writings edited by Robert Santiago

Boricuas

* Because I was tired of reading white male authors. Because I was tired of reading white females. And it wasn’t because I didn’t love the prose of the message or the story. I just wanted to read writers that looked like me and fall in love with characters that are like me. This is one book that will continue to be in rotation in the coming years. Because of this book I bought a few other Puerto Rican writers such as Piri Thomas and Judith Cofer Ortiz.

**Great insight on the culture that is Puerto Rican. The island living. The Race question. The “where do we stand on the color line” question. A brief history by a group of talented writers. Highly recommend it.

 

 4. Black Like Me by John Howard Griffin
Black Like Me
 
*Because I wanted to know what this book was about. I knew what it was like to live in an African-American home as a small child who was not fully aware that I was not black but my skin color did not stop be from believing so. 
 
**An amazing, risky task to take on just to get a story. Just to understand what feels like to live each day as a man of the opposite race and come to terms with the extreme forms of racism in the south.
 
 
5. Drown by Junot Diaz
Drown
 
* It’s fucking Junot Diaz!!
 
** Because it’s Junot Diaz!!
 
 
What were some of the books you enjoyed this year? Please feel free to recommend one or two or three. Happy reading in 2014!
 

A Rally in Newark- A Community’s call for the Burial of Violence

I attended the funeral to bury the violence in Newark, NJ. I was expecting another event where people were looking to point the finger and find fault in the current governing party. (Cory Booker was not present.) Or point the finger at the current police force that was drastically reduced due to budget cuts.

What I found, instead, were mothers, sons, social clubs, motor cycle clubs, men, women, grandmothers and children of all ages huddled at one end of Lincoln Park asking that the murders stop. The crowd also consisted of Black Panthers, funeral homes and some even brought along their four-legged family members.

I spoke to a few attendees at random. One man with a salt and pepper afro and clothed in black while passing out flyers asked to remain  anonymous. He’s been in Newark all is life and revealed that he is in his mid 50′s. I disclosed that I was raised in Newark in the West ward and upon visiting one day, it was in shambles. The Newark of today is not the Newark of my childhood. He said it’s never changed. And by that he meant the “conditions have never changed and as a result the violence got worst.” My anonymous attendee blamed the violence on poverty as well. The conditions of the crack/cocaine epidemic that were never addressed and the constant divide between the black community and the Latinos were means to keep the current conditions as is. It’s the division that keep the lining of politicians pockets thick.

From his perspective, “We shouldn’t be in this position in the 21st century with a black president in office.” One, he says, who has yet to address the issue of violence in urban cities. “Why he came from Chicago, and the bodies over there are also dropping like flies. We can march until our feet fall off but nothing will change if we don’t address the direct issues.”

The mock funeral service got underway around 1 pm once all 5 wards were represented by an empty casket. You may visit the organizer’s site for more details. Anti Industry

I attended the funeral to bury the violence in Newark, NJ. I was expecting another event where people were looking to point the finger and find fault in the current governing party. (Cory Booker was not present.) Or point the finger at the current police force that was drastically reduced due to budget cuts.

What I found, instead, were mothers, sons, social clubs, motor cycle clubs, men, women, grandmothers and children of all ages huddled at one end of Lincoln Park asking that the murders stop. The crowd also consisted of Black Panthers, funeral homes and some even brought along their four-legged family members.

I spoke to a few attendees at random. One man with a salt and pepper afro and clothed in black while passing out flyers asked to remain anonymous. He’s been in Newark all is life and revealed that he is in his mid-50′s. I disclosed that I was raised in Newark in the West ward and upon visiting one day, it was in shambles. The Newark of today is not the Newark of my childhood. He said it’s never changed and by that he meant the “conditions have never changed and as a result the violence got worst.” My anonymous attendee blamed the violence on poverty as well. The conditions of the crack/cocaine epidemic that were never addressed and the constant divide between the black community and the Latinos were means to keep the current conditions as is. It’s the division that keeps the lining of politician’s pockets thick.

From his perspective, “We shouldn’t be in this position in the 21st century with a black president in office.” One, he says, who has yet to address the issue of violence in urban cities. “Why he came from Chicago, and the bodies over there are also dropping like flies. We can march until our feet fall off but nothing will change if we don’t address the direct issues.”

The mock funeral service got underway around 1 pm once all 5 wards were represented by an empty casket. You may visit the organizer’s site for more details. Anti Industry

The message: We need to find a solution and we can’t just wait for our councilmen and council women to find those solutions for us. We need to take back our neighborhoods. It is up to the community to make it safer for the next generation.

There were speakers from all walks of life. There were ministers, children as young as 6 years old to a former rapper, Dupre Kelly, of The Lords of the Underground. There was song, poetry, and prayer. But what was not present, and intentionally so, was a political agenda. Politicians were present for support, but the mic was not for their use.

The atmosphere was peaceful. I felt a ping of sadness for the mothers who carried signs of their sons taken to soon. For the children who carried signs to stop the violence. For all those who wore a dew-rag in the memory of one whose life was taken.

When I asked another attendee, whose name I do not recall, if he has ever lost a loved one to the violence plaguing Newark. He responded “That’s kind of hard to answer. Anytime a child is killed the entire community mourns. You read the headlines the next day. You can’t help but feel that they could have been one of yours.”

Newark Anti-Violence Coalition

Travon Martin Vigil

Two of Newark's Finest

Two of Newark’s Finest

NUAV- Photo By Jane Lopez

NUAV- Photo By Jane Lopez

Caskets- Photo by Jane Lopez

Caskets- Photo by Jane Lopez

Mom with pic of her deceased son- Photo by Jane Lopez

Mom with pic of her deceased son- Photo by Jane Lopez

Mother and her two sons- Photo by Jane Lopez

Mother and her two sons- Photo by Jane Lopez

Two sisters- Photo by Jane Lopez

Two sisters- Photo by Jane Lopez

The Star Ledgers reports on murders in Newark in the month of September.

Newark Teen

9th Homocide in 9 days

Ten days, Ten Dead

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