January 8, 2010, at 1:30 a.m., armed intruders burst into our daughter’s home in Portland, Maine, shooting several times into her bedroom. One bullet hit her left hand, shredding her thumb. As she tried to roll off her bed, she was shot in her right leg at the knee. That bullet traveled the length of her thigh and lodged in her hip — her world violently turned upside down in an instant. She endured great physical and emotional pain working to recover, spending three days in ICU, 18 days in critical care and had future surgeries scheduled. Sadly, on February 28, 2010 Darien died from complications of her gunshot wounds. Darien’s life was cut short at age 25. We love and miss her so. Not a day goes by that we don’t feel her absence in the world and the empty space where she should be.
Darien had her entire life ahead of her, with much more to contribute to the world. She was beautiful and vibrant with a zest for life. She had a big, bright infectious smile that drew everyone to her. Darien was kind, compassionate, helpful and generous. She sought out and found only the good in everyone she met. A social butterfly who loved music and loved to dance, she was also intelligent, accomplished, hardworking and a valued member of our society. Darien was loved and is missed by all her knew her. Darien’s death devastated our family.
Darien’s homicide has never been solved, in part due to a dangerous loophole in the background check system. The handgun used to shoot her was recovered in February 2010 at the scene of another murder. After her death, the bullet in her hip was given to the police, and ballistics proved it was the recovered gun. Further investigation led to a Maine man who originally bought the .45 caliber semiautomatic handgun retail, but soon sold it at gun show privately to someone he didn’t know, no background check, no records kept – something not required by law.
We honor her memory by advocating for better gun laws and to close this dangerous loophole. So many families are torn apart by gun violence, including suicide, domestic violence and unsecured guns. The victims, survivors and the families impacted by gun violence are often forgotten, so we continue to call attention to the impact of gun violence in all our communities. We don’t want others to endure the pain she did or the pain we have lived with since her death. Our hope is that our elected leaders will recognize the issue of gun violence for the public health epidemic that it is so we may move forward to implement better laws regarding guns to save lives and prevent injury.
It’s too late for us. We can’t have Darien back. But it’s not too late to prevent more tragedies. Lives matter more than politics. One victim of gun violence is too many.