On July 4, 2012, my life changed drastically. I became a gun violence survivor – a title I never dreamed would be added to my resume. That was the day my 34-year-old beautiful and talented daughter was struck by a bullet as she and her fiancé and his 6-year-old daughter sat innocently in a park in Lansing, Michigan, waiting for the beginning of a fireworks display. The bullet, it is believed, came from a mile away, after someone fired a gun into the air. Ten months later, her fiancé died by suicide with a gun. His death devastated me again and left a child fatherless.
I no longer celebrate Independence Day or any other holiday that includes fireworks as part of the celebration. On the 4th of July I rent a secluded cottage to share with family and/or friends and remove myself from any reminder of that fateful night in 2012. The fireworks sound like gunfire, and my mind cannot separate the two sounds.