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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Susan Orfanos

In memory of Tel

It has been six weeks since we were told that Tel didn’t make it out of Borderline on the night of November 7. I woke up this morning realizing that Tel was one of approximately 35,000 victims of gun violence for 2018. And there are 35,000 families suffering in a holiday season that is meant to be joyous. And I am more angry, as I know that at the holidays next year, there will be another 35,000 families suffering.

I wrote this a shortly after Tel was killed. The violence must stop. We need to stop the money that FUNDS this violence. Tell your senators, your congresspeople, that this MUST stop. Go to your local Moms Demand Action meeting. DO SOMETHING. ANYTHING. NO ONE is exempt. And lightning strikes twice. “My son is Tel Orfanos. He came home from Las Vegas. He didn’t come home last night. I don’t want thoughts. I don’t want prayers. I want gun control. Now. So no other child doesn’t come home.”

We had just come home after we were told that Tel didn’t make it out of Borderline that night. The news van arrived not long after. My initial reaction was to tell them to leave us alone. And then I could not control my rage that Tel was dead. I could not stop. I honestly do not know exactly what I said. I haven’t watched the news since we came home after finding out about Tel. I scroll past screenshots, skip the articles. I don’t recognize my face. I see glimpses of it in the mirror as I brush my teeth. I can’t look at myself. It reflects so much pain, horror and anguish.

Enough? What if that man didn’t have a semi-automatic weapon and a high capacity magazine? Would more have escaped? Would more have survived their injuries? What if that man didn’t have a weapon at all? And what if we treated our military not as troops but as the protectors of our homes and families? What if we provided those men and women with full support during and after their service? With financial aid and a holistic approach to their care? Their minds and hearts as well as their bodies? What if we didn’t require them to justify their needs but provided that support to them as their due? What if? Then we would not be living in this alternate, splintered life in which Tel is not taken. “I’m at Borderline having dinner with my friend and waiting for my check.” “OK, be safe. Don’t be too late. Thanks. Love you.” “I love you too.”

Come home Tel. Tel’s mom.

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