October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Read and share stories to honor survivors whose lives have been changed by domestic violence.

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Kati Wall

In memory of Dennis and Sara Johnson

On November 5, 2017, my parents, Dennis (77) and Sara (68) Johnson, went to church at Sutherland Springs Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, as they often did. They were shot and killed in their pew along with 24 other victims that morning. There has not been a day since that has not felt horrible.

My parents were married 44 years, raised six children and several grandchildren, and were the backbone of our family.

Dennis was retired and had served both in the Navy and the Army. He enjoyed spending time taking care of his yard, watching the same Western movies over and over, and sitting on the porch telling humorous stories about his youth. He was a really tall man, and even in his old age very strong. No matter how old or big I got, I always still felt like a little girl in his hugs. He always had a hug for me and some positive words. He constantly reminded me not to worry about the things I can’t control, to have faith, and to find joy in life.

Sara was still working at a small home and garden store. She was feisty, funny and incredibly nurturing. She still went on cross-country road trips with her best friend multiple times a year. She was my best friend. She was the person I would call any time I was upset or excited or had news or needed advice about kids or husbands. She was sassy and kept us laughing. Her favorite activities were crafting, shopping and loving on babies. She taught me so much about unconditional love in the way that she was always there for her children, no matter how big their mistakes.

I miss them both every single day. It is so hard to believe that tiny bits of metal could turn off the light that these two exuded. Seven hundred fifty rounds were fired from two AR-15s into their church that day, in an 11 minute window. Twenty-six were killed, everyone else present was wounded. This has to stop.

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