Melanie Jean Molica

Melanie was my cousin—more like my sister. We were “M&M” from birth, only a year and a half apart. Today is her birthday, and it has been 30 years since a celebration included her. Melanie and her fiancé, John, were shot to death by a jealous acquaintance in 1990. She was 21. The violence of this loss has never left me, her brother or her father, and many others. Grief is sneaky, fickle and follows no rules, especially with time. Especially with gun violence.

I want to say something to make her alive again. Her giggle still lives beneath the surface of my skin. I feel and hear the bubbling of that goofy laughter with warmth and joy and playfulness. I can see her face. Her pretty smile with an edge of naughtiness. She was the leader, the braver one. Our togetherness was salty and feisty, loud and fun, honest and true. She was smart. Aced the ACT. She ran fast. Track medal fast. She loved animals: Patches, her dog. The horses. The cat. She loved me, even when I couldn’t be brave. I do brave things in her name. I miss her. M&M forever.

Sarah Martin

In early September 2008, I received a call from my mother, telling me that her brother Thomas had entered the woods near his home with a gun and shot himself. He was being airlifted to his local hospital. My mother was headed to the hospital for support and to assist in making medical decisions. He so severely injured himself that the family decided to remove him from life support. He is no longer with us. A beloved friend, father and uncle, he is missed fiercely.

I will never forget that day. I carry the pain of this loss for not only myself but my family, as I volunteer with Moms Demand Action.

Olga Williams “Bonus Mom to Dom”

On July 19, 2015, Dominique was murdered by a senseless act of gun violence.

Dominique had a smile that was contagious. His heart was overwhelmed with joy, and he was faithful to his beliefs. Dominique’s love for his family and friends was immeasurable. He absolutely loved his family and knew what love was. That is why I #DoitforDom. Being his “Bonus Mom,” or “Momma Lo,” was a joy. Dominique was sure to have you laughing or playing video games or teaching you to take the perfect selfie. He was the best big brother that his baby sister Lindsay could have asked for, and I am so thankful that God allowed them to create a bond that Lindsay can cherish forever. His “Pops”—the name he called his daddy, Leroy—has lost a piece of his heart, and that is another reason why I will and cannot stop telling Dominique’s story.

Dominique’s life wasn’t short, but it was long and filled with love, kindness, and a light that will forever shine. This tragedy has turned pain into purpose! Dominique’s life mattered… and I am honored to be a Survivor Fellow.

Aunt Cheri

My niece was murdered by gun violence when she was 18 years old in Colorado, along with her 16-year-old boyfriend. Both lives were taken too soon.

Rose Mallinger, Tree of Life Synagogue

On October 27, 2018, while canvassing in Arizona for gun sense candidates for the upcoming general election, I received a call from my son in Pittsburgh. There was a mass shooting in progress there, at the Tree of Life Synagogue, and his great Aunt Rosie and cousin Andrea were inside. It wasn’t until later in the evening that we learned that Rosie and 10 other worshipers were killed and Andrea wounded. My children’s spry 97-year-old aunt was murdered, and their cousin wounded, in what was now the deadliest attack on a Jewish community in America.

Rose Mallinger, a mother of three, a grandmother and great-grandmother, was now dead—simply because she was practicing her faith in our country, where the Constitution guarantees freedom of religion. This was just another senseless act of gun violence fueled by hatred, not unlike the all-too-often massacres of school children, in the LBGTQ community, and in communities of different races, colors and religions.

Anonymous

I’ll never forget that Sunday afternoon over two years ago. I had stopped at the store to get some coffee on my way to work, and I happened to look at my phone. On it was a GroupMe message from one of my college classmates to the rest of the class, saying that one of our classmates was no longer with us: she was a victim of the Waffle House shooting the night before.

I sat in my car, in shock, for a while. How could this have happened? It did not compute. Just three days earlier, I was standing with DeEbony and two other classmates, giving a presentation to the rest of the class. DeEbony was full of life and energy, and her passion for social justice issues animated my social work cohort. We finished that semester and the following school year subdued by the loss of an integral part of our group, but we were determined to pull together to support each other and honor her memory. For this reason, I fight for a future in which no one loses someone to needless gun violence.

Brittany Jasinski

I lost my best friend on April 10, 2016, due to a senseless act of gun violence. He was trying to fight off people jumping his friends at a night club in Philly. A random stranger shot and killed him. One shot to the chest, and he was gone forever. The funny thing is, he hated going out, especially to bars and clubs.

He left behind family and friends who love him dearly, but most importantly, he left behind his beautiful daughter. She was robbed of a father.

He was someone you felt you knew your whole life. He had such a contagious smile and laugh and could change your mood in an instant. He was always on the go, never in one place too long. He had a great passion for music and loved making it. When he loved, he loved deeply. Despite your flaws, he loved and accepted all of you, never judging. He had many flaws himself; he was growing and working on being a better him, but he’ll never have that chance. I miss my best friend. RIP.

Clint Bump

I have had a gun pointed at me when I was homeless, on the streets, but what really hurts me the most is losing two good friends in the Orlando nightclub shooting. They both were lovers, and I will never forget the first day we met. I was living in Orlando. I was a shy person, and we started talking and we clicked. The anniversary is next week: Four years. I miss him so much. I don’t want to lose any more friends, and i will not give up on this fight. Too many people and kids have died.

Kerrin Diamond Cole

Three years ago, my dear, beloved best friend from college was shot to death at home by her husband of 10 years. He then shot and killed himself. Their bags were packed for an Asian cruise the next day. Clearly, something went tragically wrong the night before their planned departure.

Barbara was an extremely loving, beautiful woman, inside and out. She lit up a room wherever she went, and she wholeheartedly embraced everyone she met with her bright smile and warm heart. She was the life of every gathering and cared deeply about her many friends and family. In our 40-plus years of friendship, we saw each other through life’s ups and downs. Barbara was very outgoing and loved nothing more than to make people laugh. She was deeply caring, generous, loving, strong, the most dependable friend, and never, ever wanted to burden anyone with any struggles that life brought her. She deeply cared about dogs and horses, and she supported horse charities.

We will never know what happened the night Barbara was murdered. Just days before, in a text exchange, her last words to me were, “I love you from the bottom of my soul.”

Sami

For years I babysat for some neighbors, two boys and a girl who lived a few houses down. I grew close to the family, especially the daughter, who loved that I have thick, curly hair just like hers. Of course, the kids grew up and didn’t require watching, but we kept in touch. When the girl became a teenager, I was preoccupied with my first full-time job and college. We didn’t speak as often; I didn’t know she was struggling.

When she was 13 and home alone on November 30, she took her own life with one of her parents’ guns. My high-school sweetheart told me the news after my shift. I battled depression for over a year afterwards, wishing I had been a better, stronger teenage role model when I babysat her and that I had been there for her when she needed help. The holidays are always hard now. I had my first child this year; I’m hoping that making the holidays special for her will help distract me more than when I’d try to do holiday things on the weekend with my nephews, in previous years.