Fifteen years ago I was granted membership in a club that no one wants to join. My life was directly impacted by gun violence. I received a jumbled voicemail message on the way home from work from the landlord for my brother and sister-in-law’s jewelry store. By the time that I had gotten home I had learned enough to know that they were gone, and I had to tell my wife and two children (middle school and grammar school) the bad news. That conversation is one of moments that live on, but there are others.
Calling my siblings, talking to the police at the store, and the moment that I saw Kim’s body are all burned into my memory. I also vividly recall picking up a week’s worth of newspapers with some assortment of my family’s pictures on the front page. I live an hour away, and the Hartford Courant rarely covered stories in Bridgeport/Fairfield. Still, the story was news. My entry into the club was very public.
Another moment that lives on is reading a short article in the same paper a week or two later that there had been a double shooting in a bodega within the Hartford market. That article did not have pictures and was not on the front page. It also did not get covered and re=covered for a week. Those families’ entry into the club was private, but no less painful, I am sure.
The moments that live on are not confined to the immediate aftermath of the event. My niece and nephew have each had children of their own in the last few years. Yesterday, I was reminded that those children would miss out on ever meeting one set of grandparents. That is heartbreaking.
We lived through a public trial, where we saw some of the best sides of humanity. Tragedy can bring out the best in people. The jurors were amazing, and I was incredibly impressed with the faith and strength of a couple who provided support to the boy who killed my brother and sister (“in law” does not do her justice. She was part of my family from when I was around 7).
I have seen kindness and strength beyond words. My niece and nephew continue to honor their parents through their resilience and dedication to making the world a better place. I believe in their work trying to make sure that no one becomes a new member in the club — whether through a private tragedy or a very public one.