He Gave His Life to Save a Friend

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On December 10, 2005, I came home from work to find my son, Vincent, also known as Shu­Shu, on the couch, playing video games with my daughter, Sabrina. Shu­Shu was his nickname because when he was a baby he used to hide my shoes whenever I tried to leave the house. When he got older, he started wearing my shoes. Even after he moved out of the house, every time he came home to visit me, he would wear my house shoes. As I was getting ready to take my daughter to work that day, I asked, him, … [Read more...]

Using My Voice to Make a Change

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On May 23, 2014, I had one of those rare, reflective moments in which I thought to myself, “God, my life is really good.” I’m not the kind of person who has those kinds of thoughts very often; I don’t generally sit back and contemplate how good everything is. But that day was different. It was a Friday afternoon, heading into a three-day weekend. I had a good week at work, it was a beautiful day, and the office manager closed the office down early. My wife and I spent the afternoon together, … [Read more...]

A Beautiful Day That Ended in Tragedy

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On May 18, 2008, my grandson turned 9-years-old. That same day, his father—my son Jim—was shot and killed. Around 2 p.m., we went over to my son Jim’s house for my grandson’s birthday party. The whole family came over, we had a buffet dinner, and the kids played outside. Jim’s family lived on a cul-de-sac, enabling all the kids in the neighborhood to play together. It was a gorgeous spring day, and an ice cream truck even pulled down into the cul-de-sac—it was like something out of a Norman … [Read more...]

Nothing Left to Fear

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My daughter, Jasmin, should turn 31 today, but her life was cut short at the age of 14. On October 13, 1999, I could tell something was going on with her. As I was leaving the house to go to the store, I asked her, “Is everything okay?” She said, “Yes,” but I knew something was up. When I came home, the lights were on in the house and Jasmin’s purse was on the couch along with her makeup and her jewelry—things she never left home without. I went to the school to look for her and spoke … [Read more...]

A New Meaning to Mother’s Day

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Today is Mother’s Day, but I do not celebrate the same way I once did. Ten years ago, the meaning of Mother’s Day was forever changed for me when my daughter, Samantha, was stolen from me by an unknown assailant with a gun. That night I was on my way home from work when Samantha called me on my cell. She wanted to speak with me and my other daughters but I wasn’t home yet, so I told her she could call my husband who could put my younger daughters on the phone. Samantha told me, “That’s okay, … [Read more...]

The Right Place at the Right Time

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On April 20, 1999, I woke up early and went to work. It was right around lunchtime when I overheard my co-workers talking about the school where my father worked—Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado. I heard one person say, “those stupid kids at Columbine.” To which I replied, “Watch your mouth—my dad works at Columbine!” All of the color drained out of their faces. That’s when I learned there had been a shooting at my Dad’s school, but I had no idea the magnitude, or the horrible … [Read more...]

We All Bleed the Same Blood

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On the morning of March 30, 2010 my daughter, Brishell, and two of her best friends went to the funeral of a young man they knew. Just as I was leaving the house to go to work, Brishell said, “before you say anything, I’m going to clean my room when I get home.” She knew I was meticulous and liked the house organized. I smiled, and said okay. She kissed me on the cheek and said goodbye. I spent the rest of the day at the office, trying to quell the growing uneasiness in my stomach that had … [Read more...]