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...]

The System Failed My Son By Allowing His Abusive Father Access to Guns

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My son, Michael, loved tractors. Fortunately for him, we lived in an area with miles of farmland where tractors were commonplace. Once when we were driving home he said, “Mommy I want to see a tractor.” I told him, “Michael, I can’t make one appear by saying hocus pocus abracadabra.” Immediately he tried to repeat my words, only managing to say “hocus pocus” but struggling with “abracadabra.” After he was killed, my parents’ neighbors arranged for a John Deere tractor to lead the funeral … [Read more...]

I Didn’t Know My Own Strength

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I remember everything about the day my son was shot. That day, I went shopping with a friend to help her get ready for her 32nd birthday party. As we were leaving one of the stores, we saw a little girl lying in the street who had been hit by a car. Seeing her there made me instantly think of her mom and what she must be going through. As a mother,I could only imagine. I called home to check on my two boys, and my son, Dre, told me he had a headache. He was supposed to go to a party that … [Read more...]

The Man, Not the Monster Nor the Victim

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I was just 2 months shy of my fourteenth birthday when I found out that my father killed himself. It was a Wednesday afternoon on February 29—a leap year, just like this year. I woke up from a nap around 4:40pm, and I was confused because my grandfather and the rest of the family hadn’t come home from work yet. Due to recent developments in our family, I was kept out of school that day. However, my mother was afraid to leave me home alone. Despite trying to keep up a brave face, I knew from all … [Read more...]

America Can’t Wait for the Grief to End to Address Gun Violence

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The day I learned about my brother’s death began as just another ordinary day. I was watching television with my father and had fallen asleep, only to be woken up by a knock at the door. My father answered the door, began speaking to someone and returned to the family room in utter devastation.  He had a very hard time finding the words to tell me that my brother had been brutally murdered in a senseless act of gun violence. I was a freshman in high school, just 14-years-old and barely able … [Read more...]

In Just Three Minutes, My Daughter Was Gone and My Life Forever Changed

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It was February 12th and my 15-year-old daughter, Kirsten, and I were headed to the mall to pick out Valentine’s Day cards for our loved ones. My other daughter, Kait, was supposed to come with us, but she was called into work that day, so we dropped her off at her job and went ahead to the card shop. Kirsten liked the idea that she and I were taking a special trip to the mall together alone. It was 6:44 p.m. when we arrived at the mall, which is uniquely located in an old trolley station. I … [Read more...]