Ciera Brookins, the late daughter of Edgar Brookins, the AFRO’s Washington D.C. office general manager, was remembered by her family and friends in a passionate funeral service with plenty of tears of joy and sadness.
Chaplain (LTC) Grace Hollis, pastor of the Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall Gospel Service delivers the eulogy at the funeral of Ciera Brookins as her parents, family members and friends mourn her passing. (Photo by Rob Roberts)
Ciera Nicole Brookins, daughter of Evelyn Collier and Edgar A. Brookins Jr., died from a Lupus-related illness on Dec. 19 at the Good Samaritan Hospital in Baltimore. The memorial service took place on Dec. 28 at the Fort Myers Memorial Chapel in Fort Myers, Va.
Minister Lougenia Carnell told the 65-member audience not to be sad. “We’re not here for a funeral,” Carnell said. “We are here to celebrate the homegoing of Ciera Brookins. This is a celebration of life.”
Ciera was born on Oct. 30, 1991 in Cheverly, Md. She attended Prince George’s County public schools, graduating from Largo High School and was a junior at Morgan State University studying to be a social worker.
She was a devoted member of the Sunday school, the usher ministry, and church at the Gospel Service, Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall. William Douglas served as Ciera’s Sunday school teacher and talked about her faithfulness to the church.
“There were times when we had Sunday school and there were only four people attending,” Douglas said. “That afforded for some time for some real down-to-earth discussions. Any parent would be proud to have an honest child with a special smile and a loving spirit who seeks a deeper understanding of God’s Word.”
Three of Ciera’s closest friends, Eric Hatton, Jamila Kamara, and Bria Stewart, talked about her and, at times, while one was speaking, another was crying softly and the other holding back tears.
“Ciera was my best friend, my partner in crime, and my love, “Hatton said. “I want to thank Mrs. C and Mr. Brookins for raising an amazing person.
Lt. Col. Dexter Brookins, Ciera’s older brother, spoke about his relationship with her. He said that when she was having trouble in school, he would meet with her school counselors and “stalk her in the hallways to make sure that she was going to class.”
“We put her through some tough love,” Dexter Brookins said. “After that, she paid attention in class and acted responsibly.”
Dexter Brookins spoke highly of his sister, saying, “She came, she saw and she conquered. I salute you.”
Remarks delivered by Ciera’s father, Edgar Brookins, on behalf of himself and Collier, were the emotional high point of the service. Edgar Brookins, known by friends as an even-tempered, no-nonsense individual, talked about his daughter emotionally. “I am here to celebrate my baby,” he said with a whimper. Edgar Brookins recalled that Ciera would call his office and ask “Dad, what’s up?”
“I would try to explain to Ciera that I was working to make the family money,” he said to some snickers in the audience. “I remember times when she would tell me about something that happened in her life but she only told me tidbits. I would learn the full story from her mother because she would tell her mother everything.”
During his remarks, Edgar Brookins sang stanzas of the Jackson 5’s “Never Can Say Goodbye” and Michael Jackson’s “Gone too Soon.”
Renee Allen, a friend of the Brookins family, presided over the ceremony. She read acknowledgements from the White House Office of Engagement, Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker III, Morgan State University, Jackson State University and its alumni association, Omega Psi Phi, and the AFRO.
Lt. Col. Grace Hollins serves as the pastor of the Joint Base Myers-Henderson Hall Gospel Service and delivered Ciera’s eulogy, noting the appropriateness of the service being held at the Memorial Chapel. “This was the place where Ciera worshipped the Lord and served the Lord,” Hollins said. “She was active in the youth ministry, Sunday school, and she was a champion for children. She was a sweet, kind, devoted daughter, sister, and friend.”
Brookins body is set to be cremated and placed in a D.C. mausoleum during a ceremony for close family and friends.