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It was three days after Christmas. It happened in such a way that shocked me to the point it seemed surreal. The EMT held my hand, and I bluntly asked him if I was going to die. I was 19. Everyone in yellow gowns rushed to the ambulance when I arrived at the hospital. I was able to call my mom to tell her what happened. That’s a scream I won’t forget. I’m sure it’s a call she will never forget.

After nine days in the hospital, I left with a few less organs and some gnarly scars. Surviving the shooting was easy. I had nothing to do with me living. The surgeons took care that. I’m the one who’s had to keep going each and every day.

It’s only been because of my support system and access to medical and mental health services that have allowed me to be who I am today. Despite the hurdles I’ve faced through the years following being shot, I am thankful to be here.

Reacting shows support for gun violence survivors.