This weekend I attended the funeral of a very dear man in the hearts of many people…Mr. Henry “Juelz” Mitchell. I wish that I could say I had known him as well as his family and close friends, but I feel fortunate to have known him at all. Juelz was an addiction counselor and the program director of Covenant Community. I made his acquaintance through Dana Rouillard, a longtime friend, and started supporting Covenant Community. It’s a place for homeless, drug addicted men to rebuild their lives, not just with rehab, but with all-encompassing services including health care, counseling and job placement. I have seen it rebuild lives and heal families long damaged by drug addiction. Juelz was a big teddy bear of a man, with a deep voice and calming demeanor. He was a perfect guide to help lost people find their way.
His funeral service touched me deeply. In a modest, lovely church in Decatur, over a hundred people gathered to pay their respects. The music was soulful and uplifting and the reverend’s speech blew me away. He spoke with passion and excitement about Juelz as a father, a husband, a friend, a grandfather, a mentor, a counselor, a Christian. His eulogy was less about mourning the loss and almost entirely about celebrating the life of such a remarkable person. The minister had folks cheering “amen!” and clapping. I couldn’t cry after hearing such an uplifting sermon. A soloist came on stage to perform “He Just Gives Us What We Can Bear”. His voice was rich and deep, and the emotion in his tone enveloped the congregation like the comfort of a warm blanket. It was utterly beautiful. I have attended many solemn ceremonies, but never anything so poignant and alternately joyous.
I cannot fathom the grief of Juelz’ family…my heart aches for their loss. However, the celebration of his extraordinary life is confirmation of the legacy he leaves behind, the lives he touched and changed forever, the joy he brought to everyone around him, and the joy his memory will bring to his loved ones, comforting their sorrows now, and making them smile later. God blessed us with your presence, Juelz.