Phyllis Phillips will cook the turkey and the ham, and everyone in her large family will eat some. But as she prepares Thanksgiving dinner today, to keep herself busy and to ease the pain, she won't know what to do with the three boxes of chitlins she bought especially for her son.
Carlos Phillips, 26, was shot in the head Tuesday night, the third of Phillips's sons to die violently in four years.
"Not again. That's all I could think when I heard about it," the 42-year-old mother said yesterday. "I didn't want to lose another one."
Carlos Phillips and another man were shot about 11:30 p.m. Tuesday in his apartment in the 2200 block of 23rd Street SE, according to witnesses and family members. He died at the scene; the other man, who was still unidentified, died yesterday morning. Police had made no arrests; the motive for the attack was unknown.
Yesterday, Phyllis Phillips, a home health care nurse, sorted through her son's belongings in his bullet-pocked apartment. She was tired of the questions, pain and loss.
The first heartbreak came in February 2001, when her son Samuel Phillips, 23, was killed inside a D.C. halfway house. A suspect was arrested, but before his trial was to begin, in November 2004, Phillips, the mother of seven, again got devastating news: Samuel's 21-year-old brother, Demetrius, who was to be one of the prosecution's witnesses, was killed.
And now Carlos, the handsome, quiet one. He had nine children; the oldest is 11, the youngest a newborn. He was recently showing off pictures of his newest child, "the spitting image of him," said Lakeicha Hill, a first cousin.
He lived in the apartment, which was in his mother's name, and didn't work because he "was mentally disabled," Phillips said.
He kept the apartment clean and rearranged the layout of the burgundy couch and glass table every two weeks. He went to parties, visited his children's mothers and went on shopping sprees to outfit the entire brood. "Buying all those clothes, that's something he came up with himself. He didn't buy them toys, but he loved buying all of them clothes,'' she said.
On Tuesday, Phillips was deep into holiday preparations, getting ready for her daughter, her other sons and all their children and friends. She bought the turkey, the ham "and three boxes of chitlins for Carlos."
"He loved them. Every year, I made them just for him," she said. "I guess I'll go ahead and make them this year. It's what I should do."
The grieving mother also made plans to memorialize yet another son. She wants the tributes and the funeral to be done right, she said, including a memorial T-shirt, with pictures and dates marking Carlos's death.
"I've got so many of them now," she said.
She came up with an idea for a new kind of shirt: "Carlos on the front, real big. And on the back, have the rest of them. Then you got all of them with you all the time. On one shirt."