Every now and then he comes to mind, my cousin Bernard.

I knew as soon as the list of prayer concerns of our community was placed in my hands this morning, today would be an “every now and then” day.

I googled his name, Bernard Rouse (29 years old), to see what I would find, and I stumbled upon the Philadelphia Homicide Victims of 2004 listing. He was #11 of 330 reported homicides in Philadelphia in 2004. 330 lives… gone in one year, in one city.

For months following his life being taken by the gun I would aimlessly ask “why”. I knew no one could give me a satisfactory answer but I could not keep myself from asking. I was angry and deeply pained, as I tried to wrap my mind around his death.

How could someone think Bernard’s life was a fair trade for a car?


6 years later, I do not ask “why” anymore. I still haven’t come across any answers that satisfy, I just do not ask or say much of anything about it.

Every now and then, however, he does come to mind and when he does, I simply repeat his name over and over again as if I were clicking my heels three times. Every now and then I sense the anger and deep pain as though it was January 12, 2004. Every now and then I remember there have been six #11s in Philadelphia since Bernard and God only knows how many more around the world.

It all reminds me to keep pushing and fighting for another way. Maybe, just maybe there will come a day when people will realize that a life is not a fair trade for a car, a wallet of cash, satisfying our anger, or soothing our pain.

My prayers are with Willie and the family of D. Darrington tonight.