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Livia Santiago

In memory of my baby brother

It all began in May 2017. I returned home to Puerto Rico after a 13-year absence. My baby brother received me with tears of joy. On Mother’s Day, he and his wife surprised me early in the morning. Fast forward to July 10, 2017: I was at work and for some reason couldn’t shake thoughts of my brother swirling in my head. Later that day I got the news. Someone shot my brother over a misunderstanding. Within minutes, a video of his death went viral, disgusting comments left by ignorant people who get joy from making others seem less than. My brother, a father of three, separated from his wife, and he maintained custody of his children until that fateful afternoon.

A few months later, Hurricane Maria ravaged the island. That’s when it really hit me. He’s not around to stand on lines to get gas or ice for mom. It took me 15 days to contact my mom. My nieces and nephew buried in a system bound in red tape. My entire family dynamic changed. I lost a brother to cancer 10 months prior. Yet the pain felt from my baby brother’s life just abruptly taken. A dad taken from his children, whom he did everything for. He was a barber by trade and learned how to cut and style women’s hair to help his daughters.

How does someone play God? How does someone really feel that empowered, as to decide a person should no longer live?

Reacting shows support for gun violence survivors.