Three years after the Denver teenager was murdered, his mom works to honor his sort, compassionate spirit

Reese Grant-Cobb’s mom didn’t spend his birthday crying last week. Instead, Beverly Grant sang.

For four consecutive years, Grant gathered people together on July 20 to celebrate Reese’s life. He was stabbed to death on East Colfax Avenue near the Colorado Capitol on July 1, 2018, at the age of 17, just weeks after graduating from what was then DSST Stapleton. He planned to study bio-medical engineering at the University of Northern Colorado next fall.

Grant channeled her grief into organizing the annual event called Random Gestures of Compassion Day. Grief is inevitable, she said, but she wants to do it positively. The annual event is designed to honor Reese’s sociable, loving embrace of life.

“It’s a way to never be sad that day – because something good is going to happen that day,” Grant said. “When I’m here in the park, I won’t have time to be sad. People are medicine, just like food and music. “

While Denver continues to grapple with an increase in violence against teenagers, more than 100 people gathered in Fuller Park last week to celebrate Reese on his 21st birthday. He was one of nine teenagers killed in murders in 2018. 18 more teenagers have been shot or stabbed to death since that year.

The energy in the park was exactly what Grant had hoped for: comforting, easy-going, loving. People practiced yoga, gathered supplies to give to people without homes, and met with people they hadn’t seen during the pandemic. The group formed a huge circle, holding hands to sing songs, recite poetry, and offer affirmations.

“I want you all to know that you are loved and deserve everything in this life,” Daniey Bere told the crowd. “If no one has told you today, I love you.”

Reese was the youngest of Grant’s three children. He was her gentle giant, she said.

He was distinguished by sports and friendships. When Reese was 4, Grant said he kept trying to befriend a girl who lived nearby, even though she wasn’t particularly nice to him. Grant decided to speak to him and explain that the girl might not be his girlfriend because she wasn’t treating him well.

“He yelled at me, ‘She’s my friend, she just doesn’t know yet!'” Grant said. “He lived that as his principle for 17 years.”

It became apparent that Reese was already living that motto as an adult when more than 700 people attended his funeral, Grant said. Hundreds more took part in vigils. Rows of friends came to tell Grant stories about Reese. The stories inspired her to create an event that celebrates human connectedness and compassion.

“I was just a shell of a person listening, but it was so heartwarming,” Grant said. “You can build so many relationships if you just be kind and compassionate.”

His friends continue to comment on his Instagram account. His posts show him playing basketball, hanging out with friends, and partaking in a cotillion dance. His penultimate post, made less than a month before his death, was a selfie titled “Live Your BEST LIFE” and hashtags for the University of Northern Colorado.

In March a friend commented, “I miss you, about to do incredible things right now.”

Another friend wrote three weeks ago: “I miss you so much.”

A week ago, another friend added, “Alotta continues to influence Reese today. Not a day goes by that I am not grateful. “

Police officers said Reese was attacked by a group of people near the Bourbon Grill in Capitol Hill on the night of July 1, 2018, and prosecutors charged a 19-year-old with his murder. The suspect pleaded guilty to second degree murder and was sentenced to 40 years in prison in 2019.

Reese’s father, Roger Cobb, said he was still thinking about the 19-year-old who had no family or supporters to attend his trial.

“Over time, I still worry about him,” Cobb said. “Now we’ve lost two lives.”

The entire month leading up to Reese’s birthday is difficult, Cobb said. For one thing, the end of June is Father’s Day. Then there is the anniversary of Reese’s death on July 1st. Then, a few weeks later, it’s Reese’s birthday.

Feeling breezy and raw after his son’s birthday, he said, but he came to Random Gestures of Compassion Day to endorse Grant. He’s still unconsciously looking for Reese. He expects to see him every time he walks into a gym Reese spent so much time playing basketball at. A parent never stops looking for their child, he said.

AAron Ontiveroz, The Denver Post

Roger Cobb speaks during the fourth annual Random Gestures of Compassion Day in memory of his son Reese Grant-Cobb, who was stabbed to death in July 2018.

But Cobb sensed Reese’s spirit and love in the gathering, he told the crowd.

“I think I’ll go home and cry a little – with joy – for all that you are here,” he said.

Grant spent most of the evening arms outstretched to hug a mother whose daughter was recently killed.

In the years since Reese’s death, Grant has helped other parents whose children have been murdered and has been helped by others who have suffered the same loss. She tells parents who have faced recent loss that the emptiness they feel is normal.

“I want to help you remember that this is a catastrophic disturbance in your being,” she said. “The feeling that nothing will be the same is valid because nothing is and cannot be the same.”

But that doesn’t mean the grief is impossible to wade through. Grant found solace in her yoga practice, at her farmers’ markets, and with her friends. She hopes that people who hear Reese’s story will be inspired to take a moment to introduce themselves to someone new or to reach out to someone they haven’t spoken to in a while.

“Take the time to make the connection you’ve been waiting for,” she said. “I wish that for his legacy.”

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