Sun | Jun 16, 2024

Even in death, gifts for a birthday boy

Published:Monday | March 7, 2022 | 12:09 AMOlivia Brown/Gleaner Writer
Decorations are seen at the Redlands, Clarendon, grave of Xavier Phillips, who would have celebrated his ninth birthday on Saturday. The boy was killed while watching a game of football in Howells Content, York Town, on August 8, 2021.
Decorations are seen at the Redlands, Clarendon, grave of Xavier Phillips, who would have celebrated his ninth birthday on Saturday. The boy was killed while watching a game of football in Howells Content, York Town, on August 8, 2021.
Britni Berry is overcome with grief as she sits at the tomb of her eight-year-old son, Xavier Phillips. on Saturday.
Britni Berry is overcome with grief as she sits at the tomb of her eight-year-old son, Xavier Phillips. on Saturday.
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Every year, on March 5, Britni Berry would gift her son toys from his long wish list.

Berry still plans on buying her son toys this year, but she will place them atop his grave.

Eight-year-old Xavier Phillips, nicknamed ‘Bojo’, was shot dead on a football field in Howells Content, York Town, in Clarendon on August 8 last year.

The still-mournful mom said that the first anniversary of his death will be hard.

Berry recalled that Xavier’s birthdays were usually celebratory affairs, with family outings to a venue of the boy’s choice or buying large remote-controlled trucks.

She told The Gleaner that Xavier requested a “big party “ for his ninth birthday and said he wanted to invite all his school friends.

“We still gonna celebrate, even though he’s not with us anymore. We gonna do whatever he wants,” she said.

For Berry, Sundays now represent gloom, having got news of her son’s tragic demise at the beginning of a week.

She recalled the painful phone call from a cousin on the fateful morning. The heart-stopping news of Bojo’s death was not tempered by the caller.

Berry remembers the shock she felt and her utterance of the refrain, “Him dead?” She said she screamed repeatedly and her mind went blank for about 10 minutes.

She said the sight of her young son’s body is forever etched in her mind.

“When mi reach, mi really see mi baby on him back lay down. Mi cry right up until today. The part that hurt the most is my son is innocent. I don’t trouble people, neither his father, and to lose mi baby like that, mi cry morning, noon, and night,” the distressed mother said in the Gleaner interview.

Berry said little Xavier was kind, observant, and was never reluctant to offer assistance. And his curious mind made him eager to ask questions.

“I miss talking to him ‘cause when him ready fi start talk, you would think it’s any big man. Even the Saturday night me and him talk on the phone ‘cause I was supposed to go for him the Sunday morning, but he said, ‘Mommy, I’m going church, so in the evening you come for me.’

“Mi wake up to the worst news of my life,” Berry said.

Berry was 16 when she got pregnant with Xavier, revealing that she grew increasingly despondent. However, the support of her guardian helped alleviate the shock and pain of teenage pregnancy.

For Berry, her son’s birth signified purpose and hope.

“The day he came into my life was such a blessing. Having a child changes a person’s life,” she said, adding that Xavier’s death has been equally devastating for his father.

“A mad alone leave for him to mad ‘cause him talk every day about him ‘one boy’ this and that,” she said.

Xavier’s death compounded grief for Berry, who lost her mother as a newborn and her father some six months before her son’s passing.

Her 80-year-old father, Clifton Berry, was murdered in February last year. His house was also firebombed.

She said she was broken.

“I don’t really know much about my mother because when she died, I was just days old, but my father was a very well-mannered and respectable man ... . Him nuh trouble people and him no deserve to die like that either, but my son was only eight years old ... . He’s so innocent,” Berry insisted.

Amid the grief of losing her only child, she lauded her family and friends for being her anchor.

Berry said she is yet to hear from the police on the status of the investigation into her son’s murder.

“Mi just a continue bawl and pray to God ‘cause Father God nah mek my eye water waste or go in vain,” she said.

Deputy Superintendent Anton-Gur Cardoza, Clarendon’s divisional operations chief, told The Gleaner that no arrests have been made in relation to the case.

Investigations are ongoing.