I Miss Being His Mother. Especially on Thanksgiving.

Marilyn Yearley Son Ryan (1)

Thanksgiving is not a happy holiday for me anymore. It’s a day when families look forward to being together and spending time with each other. But, for me, Thanksgiving is the anniversary of the worst day of my life. You see, on November 22, 2012 my son, Ryan, was shot and killed by his girlfriend’s younger brother. Three years have passed, but it still feels like yesterday; it never gets any easier. Ryan met his girlfriend, Maria, when they were teenagers. While her family could be … [Read more...]

I Survived To Sing For Others

Courtney Weaver FOC 2

In the year before I was shot, I had 97 musical gigs, sang at five blues festivals and at the House of Blues in Las Vegas. I was planning to go to New Orleans four months later to continue my musical career. But that all changed on January 15, 2010, when I was shot by my ex-fiancé with his Kimber handgun. Sadly, I was not unfamiliar with gun violence. When I was 9 years old, my uncle shot himself in the face in front of my mother. He had originally planned to kill my grandfather. My now … [Read more...]

I Knew My Mother Was Right When She Said, “I Think He’s Going to Shoot You This Time”


I remember the night I was shot 45 years ago like it was yesterday. It was a snowy evening in the rural small town where I grew up, Westmoreland, New Hampshire, where I lived in a tiny house with my mother, stepfather and brother. It was a Saturday and I was playing with other kids at a friend’s house, like most 13-year-olds do. My friend wanted me to stay overnight, but her mom said that I was expected home. I vividly remember looking out the window and thinking that going home would be awful. … [Read more...]

If He Couldn’t Have Her, We Couldn’t Have Her Either

Ebony Parson

If he couldn’t have her, we couldn’t have her either. Those are the words my younger sister’s estranged boyfriend said before he shot and killed her on September 14, 2013 at a bingo parlor in Conway, South Carolina. Just 10 days before my sister Ebony Spann Parson’s murder, her ex-boyfriend was arrested and charged with aggravated domestic violence for severely beating her. But after he was released on bond, he took a gun to the bingo parlor my sister loved to frequent and shot and killed … [Read more...]

26 Years After My Husband Committed Suicide, My Daughter Took Her Own Life With a Gun

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On July 5, 2011, the 26th anniversary of her father’s suicide by gun, my 31 year-old daughter Angela checked into a hotel alone, put a gun in her mouth and ended her life. Her death shattered the lives of everyone she left behind, including her three beautiful, young children. Angela suffered with depression and mental illness since adolescence. There were times when she was truly happy, but most of the time happiness was merely a mask she wore to hide the pain. Over the years she tried group … [Read more...]

An Unsecured Firearm Changed the Life of My Toddler Forever

Eli Baseball

On April 5, 2002 my life changed forever. That day, my four-year-old son found a handgun lying on a stack of children’s books, loaded with the safety off. This negligent act would leave lasting scars on a beautiful four-year-old child, but those responsible would go unpunished. This is the story of my son, Eli. On this day, my estranged husband picked up our two young sons, Eli and Ethan (age 2), to take them to Louisville to visit their grandparents. The boys were cranky when their dad … [Read more...]

Faces of Courage: Wendy Watson Marietta


My youngest daughter, Caroline, lived in Arizona where she attended Pima Medical Trade School, where she graduated with honors in April 2011. A few months before her graduation, she met a man who moved into her apartment complex. He was charming, attentive, and always available with a helping hand to take out the trash or unload groceries. He often took the time to surprise her with flowers at her internship, despite his own demanding work schedule. By all appearances, he was a great guy. But it … [Read more...]