101,690
total hearts received for Moments That Survive

Melody

In memory of Jessimine Estes

I was always told that my maternal great-grandfather was killed while cleaning a gun. That never added up. When I was 2, my dad’s sister was shot and killed while attempting to retrieve her child from her husband’s lover. She died in front of her 4-year-old daughter. When I was 5, I watched my mother crumple and weep in fetal position on our kitchen floor upon learning that her best friend, a bank teller, was shot in the face at work and killed. None of this ever seemed to affect me growing up. A few years ago, I made friends with a woman I met through our children at school. She and I really clicked. We had similar political beliefs and worked on a campaign together in 2018. She was a real beacon of hope for me. Her name was Jessimine, but friends called her Jazz. The name suited her well. Her tune was one that did not fall into any basic structure. She was one whose beat changed time signatures with carefree abandon. Her favorite book was The Great Gatsby. Our kids trick-or- treated together — she dressed as Danarys Targaryen, me as a Handmaid. In November, our candidate lost, and we were discouraged, but ready to keep fighting. She told me that she wanted to get involved with Moms Demand Action after the new year, when things settled down. She even mentioned that she used to be a pawn dealer and was up on gun laws. Threads of witty texts, clever puns, eloquent comments — how she could make me laugh! It came as a complete shock when I found out on a cloudy January morning that she was gone. How could I have never known she battled bi-polar and depression? I did not know her struggles with psychiatric drugs for over 20 years. She bought the gun at a pawn shop. My friend Jazz made me a survivor.

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