total hearts received for Moments That Survive

Christine Castillo

In memory of Manny

Manny was only 14 years old when a friendly get-together with an unsecured gun led to his death. Although Manny was not my brother by blood, we were family nonetheless. This was the first and only time I witnessed my strong, stoic father fall apart in agony. Being only 10 at the time, I struggled to understand why this happened and to really believe he was gone. I didn’t know how to help, and I didn’t want to need to be taken care of.

At his funeral, I remember trying to stay out of the way but also feeling incredibly sad and confused. I found myself alone, next to his casket. I remember willing him to breathe again and imagining that it worked. That day, I learned that children can die too and that safety and security are not inherent. I also learned funeral etiquette, which would serve me well for two additional funerals I would attend, due to gun violence, before my 16th birthday.

I work to prevent gun violence to honor Manny, all of the children that have died and those left behind to make sense of it all.

Reacting shows support for gun violence survivors.