Lives of Grosse Pointe brothers killed in fire celebrated on Día de Muertos
GROSSE POINTE, Mich. (FOX 2) - The family of two brothers killed in a Grosse Pointe house fire said goodbye to the young boys on Día de Muertos but it wasn't a day of mourning - it was celebrating their lives.
Walter Briggs Connolly IV "Briggs", 11, and Logan Connolly, 9, died Monday morning in the tragic fire as their dad started his first day at a new job and their mother ran a quick errand.
On Saturday, the boys were honored and remembered and celebrated at Grosse Pointe Academy Field House. The celebration of their lives coincided with Día de Muertos, which their mother, Azucena Beltran-Connolly, explained.
"We Mexicans have a very unique relationship with death. We invite it into our home, we invite our loved ones back. We embrace them," Azucena said. "This is not our real life, this is not our real plane but when we pass, that is where we belong. That is where we belong, where there's no sadness, so sickness, no sorrow."
Their Mexican heritage and Irish heritage was all part of the tribute - as was their love of hockey.
Briggs wanted to be an artist, Logan wanted to be a chef. Azucena, and their father Walter, remembers their kind spirit.
"Logan was such a goof. He was such a clown. He always made us laugh no matter what," Azucena said.
"Briggs has a gentle spirit and selflessness which makes me smile," Walter said. "If you want to pay tribute to our boys ask yourselves what am I going to do today? And then answer learn, try my best and have fun."
Briggs and Logan were both killed Monday morning. With their mom away for a few moments, the fire is believed to have started in the kitchen. The brothers called their mom and she rushed home.
She and neighbors tried to save the brothers but it was too late.
"One way of considering this tragic loss is to think of rather, with a different set of eyes, in 9 years and 11 years, they did it all. They did it all," said Bishop Donald Francis Hanchon
The cause of the fire is still not known but is believed to have started in the kitchen.
The fourth and fifth graders attended nearby Richard Elementary where a crisis team was called in to help students and staff get through their grief. We are told they excelled in school, loved hockey, playing video games and spending time with their friends.
The boys have been honored all week, including by hockey players across Metro Detroit - and even the Red Wings - with the sticks out tribute.
A GoFundMe set up for the family raised over $200,000 this week.