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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Marisol DeLeon

In memory of Christopher Tashane Byrd

My son’s name is Christopher Tashane Byrd. Chris was a victim of gun violence. He was shot and killed on June 4, 2013. He was 26 years old.

That was the worst day of my life. The day my baby, my first born, my Christopher was taken from me. The shooter slaughtered my son.

His actions hit me like a punch to my stomach, as if someone reached into my chest and tore my heart out. I can’t breathe right anymore. Six years ago, life as I knew it was torn down. That morning I waved to my son as he went to work. He said, “I love you, Ma” and I said, “Love you too.” The day went by, then I couldn’t breathe anymore. My husband, my mother, my brother, my sister, my niece, my nephew, my friends, his brother, his friends, and his family – we couldn’t breathe anymore. All because someone decided to play God and end his life. He made sure that Chris never laid eyes on me again. My son has no more life. Chris will forever be 26 years old.

Chris had a daughter on the way at the time of his death. A daughter that he didn’t even meet, at least not physically. My granddaughter’s father was stolen from her before she had a chance to grow and be Daddy’s little girl. She will be 6 this year and has started to ask questions about “Daddy.” We are all at a loss for words when trying to answer her.

Chris was tall, handsome, strong, smart and nice with his words. My son was an artist. His music made you think about all aspects of life. My son graduated from the Institute of Audio Research. He was working, he had a family. My son was a giant, larger than life. His smile was radiant. His personality infectious and his love for life incomparable.

In this same way, our family lives on for him. His friends keep him alive through music. On Chris’ birthday every year, we celebrate as a family. On the angelversary of his death, we celebrate his life with a balloon release. For Thanksgiving, we raise funds and donate food for families in need in my son’s name. Last year we donated 200 turkeys to 200 families as well. And on Christmas, we have our Chris’ Angel Tree event at our home. Through this tragedy, we try to bring healing. Chris was a real person, and I will always do my very best to keep his memory alive.

Reacting shows support for gun violence survivors.

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