Terry Barry

"Your name is TERRY BERRY?" I said to the boy in front of me. I think this was his 6th or 7th grade year.
"Yeah," he said.
"I don't have time for this," I replied irritated and assuming and started to walk away to help out in the kids after school program. I can't remember what Terry wanted, but I figured he was giving me a fake name for some reason and I wasn't going down like that.
"Sarah, he's for real!" Marquis McCoy assured me.
Terry looked sheepish and defeated with these wide eyes that gave me pause  and my steely exterior softened and I guess I decided I did have time for him. I can't remember the rest of that day, but that was how we met.

And the last day I saw him, earlier this year at Poppie's funeral....his eyes were the same. That part hadn't changed. You could look into Terry's eyes and see him.
Really see him..
if he let you.

I was mad at him. So physically angry at him that I almost shook when I saw him walk in at Poppie's wake and I made some rude noise and muttered some inappropriate words until Donnell's look silenced me. Terry left quickly that night. As Poppie's funeral ended the next day, I knew I had to talk to Terry. As I looked at him deep into his eyes and told him I was mad at him, I loved him just the same, Jesus would forgive him and that he could and should come to North Carolina with me and Mike and start his life all over again, I can't explain what I saw.

Of course He prayed with me, Terry never denied a prayer for him or with him. We hugged, but not for long enough. I can feel that hug in my arms and chest today but now its aching and pulling.
We both cried as we stood there, mostly for Poppie - and for how hard life was and how your choices don't always feel like an actual choice. And I cried because I think I knew he wouldn't come back with me to NC. He stood there as I walked away, and he was a grown man yet still his eyes could break my heart for grief. I have a hard time seeing the boys I still claim as mine as grown men now. They have been grown in many ways for far too long now, expected to carry weights that men I know twice their age would buckle under.

I know he lost hope, and I did too.
That's probably why we had to move.

Satan can be a convincing liar, the darkness looms, generational chains are real, and there aren't as many paths out of the south side of Chicago for a young, black kid as there are traps and deep holes of despair.

This is the 3rd boy that died this summer. The 2nd that I had counted/still count as one of mine. When Poppie died, I posted about it on social media and a well meaning friend who is definitely not from Chicago said some words about being careful what I post about my home to not give people the wrong idea and perpetuate stereotypes.
Im sidestepping that freight train of condemnation and emotion. Im responsible with my knowledge and my grief and writing and speaking is my adamant, staunch reclaiming of hope and standing up to the devil and his lies.

The truth is that we don't know that the devil has Terry, so do not lose heart.
And here is the story that Id rather not share, but God is bigger than my comfortability.

One time when I was shy about sharing what God had done in my life because it was awkward and messy, My friend and brother in Christ CW told me in his calm, wise way that to not tell people what God did in me, was to rob Him of His glory. Im not a big revelation or visions from God type of person, but maybe I need to be.

So, God is big. Bigger than me. and in my despair I often forget. I rock my son to sleep every night in his dark room and I try to pray. The night I got all the calls and texts about Terry's death I was deeply troubled. Not shocked, which I grieved even more. It wasn't the anxious, panicked crying and pacing that came with Poppies death. It was this quiet, afraid, despair that the darkness had won. It was this foreboding "knowledge" that the darkness is stronger and that it had circled Terry and dragged him away triumphantly.
I sat there remembering how Terry always had this supernatural weight and levity upon him. How he didn't fight with words. How his eyes always told a different story. His quiet strength. How he always seemed to rise up and then be dragged back down. How Terry was never the same after his best friend Venzel was murdered at age 14, potentially right next to him on the street next to mine. And how he didn't cry at that funeral.

In the dark, as I held my gift of grace and rocked him to sleep I felt my heart and faith falter a bit. I cried out in my head to God and it was lament and questioning and despair and God quieted me, almost audibly, with the word "Stop." And I did. I stopped rocking and I sat there motionless. God reminded me that I don't know everything. That His story and His world is far more intricately woven that I could ever imagine and that is a good thing. I thought something along the lines of "whatever." God graciously unfolded for me a scenario, a story, a version, that I have no way of verifying but it's bigger than me and what I could have thought or come up with.
After Poppie's death, Terry understandably began to struggle mentally. We all did, I'm sure but Terry's struggle was consuming and overwhelming. He was admitted to a psychiatric facility twice since July.**this is a fact. **
What God gave me that night was the possibility that God and Terry spent time together in this space. In the hospital.
Terry was killed a short time after his second release. **this is also a fact**

The scenario or version of the story of Terry's life that God showed to me was one where God knew the hands and circumstances of this world were too strong for Terry, so he quickly brought him home to heaven after they had spent time together as to not have Terry stumble any longer. It sounds crazy, yep. But it sounds grievously beautiful and supernaturally benevolent. That's all I have. I can't defend it, and none of us can ever prove if it happened or not but God is big and what the devil means for bad, God can use for good.  Genesis 50:20

We know that God uses all things to work together for good for those that love him. Romans 8:28

And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and their will be no more death or mourning, crying or pain. Revelation 21:4

The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise, as some understand slowness. Instead He is patient with you, not wanting any to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. 2 Peter 3:9

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I couldn't go to the funeral today, but lots of texts and a few facetimes video chats got me through the day many miles from where I desperately wanted to be sitting. The stories and pics on FB of Terry from some of his friends, and his groupies/fans and even his enemies are just telling one side of a story about Terry's life. But its not the whole story, and it feels unjust to be watching this all and not pushing back. So here is my contribution to the celebration of Terry Barry and his too short life here with us. Im better for knowing him.

-In middle school, Terry was a part of this series in the Chicago Sun-Times newspaper about violence reduction strategies and the importance of recreation. Terry was in 5th grade and contributed to this story sharing about how gang violence in his neighborhood affected his ability to play at the park and how he enrolled in martial arts for protection and for a recreational outlet. Later, Terry became serious and dedicated to boxing. He was good, very good and he used to come into my office and tell me how hard he was working. Boxing kept him focused and off the streets, for a long time. Nobody wanted to fight Terry. Nobody. To an extent, that kept him and all our boys kinda "safer." He had such a sweet smile, you would never know his hands were a deadly weapon all by themselves. I know that transportation to the training center began to be an issue as Terry got older towards the end of high school, as he had to take the bus through a few different neighborhoods to get there and thats not a safe or wise thing to do in Chicago. The interesting thing to me is that the researchers and psychologists from ISRAEL that were a part of this study in the paper identified that the kids that participated exhibited responses and thought processes similar to kids across the world who grew up in violent war zones, yet to my knowledge this did not lead to any outpouring or offer of counseling or resources for these kids.

For high school, Terry went to Dunbar. I have zero positive things to say about that "educational" establishment. However, I did have great memories taking the vans from work to pick up the boys en masse to make sure they got back to our neighborhood safely. Having them all loaded up, and hyper from a day of school and listening to all their stories kept me laughing. They would all crowd around like 10 deep in my office and on the corners and later on our front porch in their matching uniforms of royal blue shirts and khakis. They ate too many gross, unhealthy snacks from the corner store and stood around goofing around until past dark. My favorite things about the uniforms was that I could always tell who didn't go to school that day because they would be in street clothes. Made it easy to pick them out and yell at them. 
Terry graduated from Dunbar. Its a big damn deal and I was thrilled to get to watch him walk across the stage. Graduation rates in Chicago at the time in our neighborhood were 49% and I don't blame the kids almost at all. Terry was an overcomer and he made it through. 
When I ran the summer jobs program, Terry didn't come correctly and he came too late and I didn't hire him. The year he graduated, he was upset he didn't have a job and asked me to help him. I told him who was in charge and if he wanted a job he should show up everyday and ask for one and tell them he was willing to do anything at all, including clean the toilets. I guess it worked. Here he is working his job at the coffee shop down the street. He loved that job and had pride in getting it. 
Spike Lee made a stupid movie in Chicago that makes me wanna swear a lot at him and he called it something even more dumb. Chi-raq. Don't ever say that mess around me. Anyway, Spike Lee was in the neighborhood and stopped and met all the boys and took pictures with them. Spike Lee has his arm around Terry in this pic. Poppie is in the front with the maroon sweatshirt. 
this pic is from my IG. Its the day Terry came to see me while we were home visiting Chicago for the first time since moving to NC. He came and found me to tell me he had gotten into community college. I was so proud. Whenever I asked him, Terry always had a plan. To make it out, to be better. He had dreams. Boxing, the AirForce, College. He always let me know he was gonna make it. 
Terry was kind. He was the kind of guy that would see me struggling with the baby stroller and MJ and rush over and carry it down my stairs for me. Many days after I left the ministry and moved down the street, Id come out my front door and finding him and Poppie sitting there on my porch. As long as we knew each other and familiar as we were, he never dropped the Miss from the front of my name. The kids at the ministry center where we worked called us all mr. or miss. and our first name. Miss Sarah. But as the boys got older, and became like family they dropped the Miss. None of my boys called me Miss Sarah, except for Terry. He seemed to add that extra layer of respect and I didn't correct him, much. I wasn't afraid in our neighborhood, and I wasn't disrespected many times. One of the few times I was by an older man from the neighborhood on the street while walking alone, Terry called out and let him know not to mess with me.  Im thankful for Terry and that I had the grace to know him and love him and be a part of his story. 










Comments

  1. This is the most beautiful thing I have read about MY son Terry Barry, since my life was forever changed 9/26/17. I have a read some of the most hateful and disrepectful things one could imagine, even though they didn't even know my son. Today you gave me peace, because these ppl/fans/enemies do not know the person I raised or the person I LOVE with every breath in my body, I'm just glad and proud he showed you and many others who he really was. Thank you from the bottom of my broken💔

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    3. Terry will forever Live on He left a impact on the world That will never disappear.LLTB LLPoppie LLmanman Make the best outta nothing turn nothing into someting show em how you komin -Tbico

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    4. Tbinacut was sadly a thug!! Bico/ SACKBOYTB, i wished he stopped that lifestyle!! No gain in it!!!! Died so young!!!!!!!

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    5. Rip TB didn't know you personally but seen you on social media you had a good spirit just got caught up in this cruel world as most of us do may your soul rest easy my brother

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    6. Rest in peace.

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  2. I never met him in person but did speak to him several times in the months before his passing I do graphic design and he wanted me to do sum work for him. I was doing work for him poppies and another artist that went by fbg brick. All 3 passed away this year due to gun violence. Thank you for this piece you wrote it gave me a lot of insight into who he was. It's heartbreaking to see someone with so much potential fall victim to the nonsense. My condolences and prayers.

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  3. This was beautifully written. Terry, affectionately known to me as "Boogie" was one handsome, quirky, inspiring and loving young man who stood firm in his convictions and lived fearlessly because he had a personal relationship with God and trusted his will for his life. To others he was someone else. It is a pleasure to read of your experience with him that speaks to the young man I knew and loved. Happy to read an honest personal experience that does not sugar coat that Boogie was not a perfect person but was just perfect as he was. An imperfect perfection. Thank you for this.

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  4. Never knew him personally, just a fan out of state but his death really hit me for some reason I knew their was something different about him , thank you for this article this clarifies why I felt the way I did towards him.

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    1. Yea me too I'm a fan out of state and I can tell their were something different about him. I can just feel it. And once I read this story about him that excalty how felt bout him. Rest in peace....u forever live on... love your music. 🙏

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  5. I talk to Terry once of YouTube under one of his videos. Making the comment of it was all on him whether he wanted to continue the way he was going or leave things were they were and start over. I Kno things are not that easy though. We live in different states me being from Alabama but my father is from Chicago I've visited many times. Different struggle yet all the same for us young black males I can only pray I find my way out this maze one day. Death by guns is all to familiar here as well and it seems I have no way out but the way Terry went. Sometimes were just happy to go out that way sad as it seems because this ain't living may the most high bless my young black brother may he bless us all hopefully me and Terry can talk on the other side I thank Terry he showed some people we all don't want this for ourselves but we okay our hands the best we kno how father forgive us forgive us all. This is our peace✌

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  6. Wow, this is heart touching. I know of Terry from his music and not personally but he had a smile that would light up any room and a look of innocence about him that most of the other guys in his videos did not. His eyes definitely tell a story. He seemed as if he worked hard to stay away from the streets but unfortunately still got sucked into it all. I really do pray for him, his mother, family members, and friends. Some of the youth are really just products of their environment ...no matter how much they want/try to change their surroundings won't let the. How many of us would remain the same after losing friend/ family member after friend/family member? That's a lot of pain to deal with and even the strongest person would break. May God forgive him for his sins, have mercy on his soul, and bring his family some peace. Amen.

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  7. Rest in peace to TB and Poppie.

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  8. Rest in piece TB. I am just a fan of him but he always reminded me so much of myself and thats why I was emotinal when he died.

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  9. R.i.p to Terry Berry.Gone way too soon.I hope he has found the peace that he so deserves.

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  10. Thank you very much for this.R.i.p to Terry and Poppie.

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  11. but never told you he killed anyone? its just karma

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  12. I have followed a lot of the lives lost in Chicago and I have seen those who you can tell was a good person that was just dragged into a chaotic world around them. The things they have seen and experienced shouldn't no child have to bare such grief and fear. I feel bad for the ones who have fallen victim to such tragedy; I just wished they were able to get their child out and relocate somewhere safe before they become another target/statistic. RIP to Terry Berry, Poppie, And Scrapp!

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  13. To Terry Barry’s mother, My heart is so grieved for you after reading this because no matter what people say, you did a wonderful job raising your son. Unfortunately once our kids are out of our view we can only pray that they are acting like we have taught them how to act. The author of this story this is one of the most beautiful things that I’ve ever read in my life. R.I.P. Terry, I started watching videos of him about 6 months ago until I realized that he had passed away. You can tell he was raised the right way by the way he treated the author of this story.

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  14. Eloquently written for a handsome young man taken too soon. RIP TB and Poppie

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  15. RIP TB Rest in piss pussy u killed mines y where suppose to be

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  16. Rip TB , BRICK, DUCK, GET RIGHT WITCHA, COBY MACK, KI, VENZELL, TOOKA...(TOOKAVILLE) (TYQUAN WORLD)

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  17. Terry or TB murdered 4 young men. He didn't have to. One of them was his childhoold friend who went by the name of Capo in his particular gang. Tery was posting pics of the friend he murdered - and his friend didn't threaten Terry's life or others' - on facebook in his memory but was having private conversations on twitter boasting about being a killer.
    Poppie murdered 2 young men. Both Terry and Poppie laughed about what they did and celebrated it on social media. They didn't kill those young men in self-defence - they went out and hunted them down. Nobody made them do it. You don't have to be a shooter and killer in a Chicago gang, you volunteer. There are gang members who have never done this and never will.
    The chickens came home to roost. Keep believing that Terry and Poppie have been rewarded for their choices by being in heaven. You want to be deluded, be deluded but all you self-righteous people here in denial about the cold blooded killing of other young men are the hypocrites.

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    1. You sound silly asf. Even if he did kill people, u clearly heard this lady say his friend dying at 14 changed him. Look at his alleged killer; that man went crazy after his brother died. Show some fckn respect, and get on wit that 🤡 shit

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