My father, Jim, was a respected doctor in the small town I grew up in. He was a kind man who taught me how to throw a football, fish and hunt.
I was 15 when my mother rushed in to take me out of class. I could tell something was wrong. When we got outside, she told me my father had shot himself. He was in the hospital on life support.
I remember visiting the hospital. I was afraid. I remember I was able to hold his hand. I really don’t remember saying anything. But I do remember him saying, “You don’t understand.” He died two days later.
It wasn’t until many years later, attending a Moms Demand Action meeting in Atlanta, when I heard the stories of many gun violence survivors, I realized I might be a survivor too. When I shared my loss with the group, I struggled. I was afraid again. But the women at that meeting hugged me and said we were family. That felt good.
I know that now we are family. They give me strength because I know our family is strong and we will never give up our fight to end