My story is one of surviving the murder of my 19-year-old son, who was shot in the back and then in the heart by his own father over a car. Tim was going to the local college, studying fire science and getting As. He wanted to be a Hot Shot, EMT and fireman at a beach city in Southern California. Eventually, he wanted to become a fire inspector so he could determine how a fire was started and prevent the same thing from happening again in the future. He wanted a lot out of his life, but none of it was to be. He was killed because a gun was too handy in an argument.
The path of a survivor has been painful, challenging and full of hurt. But I have learned a lot, like you can cry in your sleep. I found that not only was my immediate family shattered by this violence, but the lives of my extended family and of Tim’s friends. The last young friend to see him alive that night shot and killed himself a year and half later. I know the overwhelming heartbreak that rips your life apart. I know the crazy cycles of grief that seem to pause one day but hit with double force the next. I know how to cry and drive. I know the impact on my surviving son, who has spent many years in depression over losing his brother.
I had to learn how to live again without half my heart. It has taken years to really enjoy the sun again, to see there is light and joy in this world.
I learned that survivors include those of us who have lost a family member, those who have survived gunshots, those who have witnessed gun violence, those who have lost close friends and distant family. I have learned that we all grieve differently and at our own time in our own way. I have found that while I may think a mass murder does not impact me now, each one does impact me, and my heart hurts once again for those lost and their family and friends. But now instead of overwhelming grief, I get angry that we as a country have allowed this to go on for so long, with an incalculable impact on our country from those we have lost. This must stop.