The Gun Show Loophole Armed My Aunt’s Killer

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Today, my aunt should be turning 69, but she never lived past the age of 56. On September 29, 2003, I awoke to a phone call from my dad who said my Aunt Shelley was in surgery, and that I needed to come to the hospital. My first thought was that she had some sort of medical emergency due to natural causes, like a ruptured appendix. Just before I left the house, I listened to a voicemail from my dad clarifying what happened: she’d been shot that morning at the courthouse. I rushed to the … [Read more...]

I Wish I Knew Who Killed My Son

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I will never forget the day my son was taken from me. On January 5, 2013, Kellan and his fiancee traveled from Baltimore to visit me in New York with one of his two children: Khody, who was still just a baby, while his other daughter, Kya, was home with her mother. I once told Kellan that I didn’t want him to have any kids until I was 50, but he said, “Mommy, my kids are going to be the ones who bring you water when you’re old.” The following day, Kellan cooked for all of us and that stood … [Read more...]

Three Gang Members Killed My 14-Year-Old Son for Sneakers and Polo Shirts

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My son should have started his senior year of high school this year. Right now, he should be applying for colleges and pursuing his dreams. Instead, on December 19, 2012, his life was cut short by three bullets. He was just 14 years old. The last time I saw Paul, we were following our usual morning routine: we both got up around 5:30 a.m., I fixed him breakfast, and then drove him to school. It was the last day before winter break and the last day of his final exams. I remember he was getting … [Read more...]

Today is the Anniversary of the Worst Day of My Life

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When the air turns cool and the stars line up in the sky in a certain way, I know the anniversary of the worst day of my life is coming—the day my daughter, Lindsay, was shot and killed. She was only 19. It was December 3, 2006 and Lindsay had been going to school full-time to become an elementary school teacher. She was also working part time to take care of her baby girl, Patrice, and was busy being a mommy when she wasn't working or going to school. Some friends from high school invited … [Read more...]

I Miss Being His Mother. Especially on Thanksgiving.

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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

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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”

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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...]