ince DuQuan Myers died six years ago, he’s come back in ways that are mysterious and magical and hard to explain. It started the day of his funeral, when the doves that were released over his coffin refused to fly home, perching instead in the oak tree just above his grave as if witnessing a visitation. Then there was that drive to El Paso, Texas, when — not once but twice — the windshield wipers started swiping just as the satellite radio cut out midsong, switching to the tune Myers’ sister Natasha had been listening to at the exact moment when her mom called with the news that her brother was gone. There was the way Myers’ nephew — the one who was just a baby when Myers died — would sometimes point into an empty corner of a room and say “uncle.” There were the Pokémon cards that Myers had loved as a child but hadn’t played with in years turning up one by one in unexpected and impossible places, like the middle of a clean kitchen floor. There were the nights when Myers’ mother, Letitia Wilbourn, would feel him, actually feel him, resting his head upon her shoulder, even though no one was there. But, of course, that’s not right. There was someone there. He was there. She knew it. Such is the logic of grief.
Tragedy rips the grieving out of the storyline of their own life, denies them any sense of what the past meant or the future will hold. Wilbourn remembers few details from her son’s funeral, but she does remember the doves. “That lady said, ‘These birds have never done this. Never,’” she tells me, sitting on a small sofa in the darkened living room of her modest house in the suburbs of Fort Worth, surrounded by pictures and mementos from her son’s short life: an infant footprint from the hospital where he was born, a class project he wrote about wanting to own a whale, a photo of him posing in his Little League uniform with a shy smile. “The lady was like, ‘Was he a very gentle spirit?’”