Jaycee is my Labor Day baby. Can you imagine such good timing? “My favorite son,” I called him. He would laugh, saying, “You know I’m your only son, right?” It’s true. I’m the proud mother of two daughters and one son. My Jaycee.
On July 19, 2017, Jaycee was murdered in our home. I tried to block the gunman as he came down the steps; I chased him out the door. When he ran into a getaway car, I grabbed the door handle. The car dragged me for a while before speeding away. When I came back into the house, we were all on our phones, calling 911.
When the office duty police officer drove me to the hospital where I asked the detective to see my son, they had me wait by myself in a separate hospital room until, finally, they came in and told me the news that my son was gone. Can you imagine arriving at the hospital to be told to wait in another room after asking to see your loved one? I asked to see him, and they told me that they were sorry, but that his body was now evidence. Can you now imagine not being able to hug your son because now his beautiful body must undergo forensics?
My son was taken from me. While I did not choose to be a survivor, I joined the gun violence prevention movement because I don’t want somebody else to experience the same pain I’ve endured. If they have, I want them to know that there are people like me who have their back.
A former coworker introduced me to a group called Mothers of Murdered Sons and Daughters; through that group I met a chapter leader with Moms Demand Action. For years, I served as a SurvivorsConnect Leader — a volunteer leadership role within the Everytown Survivor Network that supports and mentors other survivors, including people whose children have been taken by gun violence. Today I’m an Everytown Senior Survivor Fellow, speaking out about my lived experience and the urgent need to address gun violence.
Through Moms Demand Action, I’ve had the opportunity to be a voice for so many other survivors who haven’t found their voice yet. That does not mean I speak for them; everybody is different. To me, support is less about what you say than what you show — even if it’s just a text to say, “Hey, how you doing?” and let someone know you are thinking of them. That’s who I am: I enjoy encouraging people and lifting them up. I will give you your space, but I’m gonna check up on you. I’m gonna call you and ask questions. “Are you good? Are you all right? Do you need anything? Would you like to pal around with me or somebody else?”
I’ve also enjoyed the opportunity to build a relationship with legislators, where they know me, and I know them. Just this past December, I went to Congress to deliver letters in support of the assault weapons ban.
I was nervous the first time I testified at a legislative hearing. It’s a juggle: I had to keep within a certain time limit. I had to learn how to breathe — to just slow it down. To remember the point I was trying to get across, then share my experience and make it so relatable that the people listening can connect, and say, “You know what, I know exactly what you mean.”
Jaycee once said, “I may not change the world, but I want to inspire many.” I love that idea, and I do my best to try and live it out. See, while I’m helping somebody else, that’s where I am getting my healing. I find ways that my family and Jaycee’s friends can remember and honor him, so they can heal.
They might have taken my son out of this world, but you better believe people are going to know him. Jaycee is now bigger than life. He’s got a legacy. I began by saying that my Jaycee is my Labor day baby. I use the word “ is” because what God creates does not die but rather lives on in another realm.
by Giselle Mörch, as told to Sarah J. Robbins