Everywhere hearts are breaking for the recent shootings in our country. Children, harmless men and women, civilian, law enforcement…. It seems that no one is safe. We see angered facebook posts, outraged tweets, and cries of fear all over social media; but the raw reality is, these incidents are not just a hashtag or news story for the week. There is a ripple effect that changes lives forever.
What happens when a life is taken by gun violence? Well, my husband was gunned down 3 years ago and I’m here to tell you, nothing will ever be the same.
A parent will not return home to their children. My son was 2 and my stepdaughter was 7 when their dad was killed. My son has no memory of his dad. He will never experience first-hand his father’s love. They both love basketball but will never be able to play together. My husband will never fulfill any the plans he had with his son. When my son turned 5, I finally told him how his dad died; so before even entering grade school, he learned a difficult life lesson: this world can be cruel. My step daughter on the other hand does remember her dad, and therefore, feels the pain and void of his presence. She feels sad and awkward when father/daughter dances come up each year at school. Her dad is not here to teach her about boys, or walk her down the aisle when she meets the love of her life.
A husband/wife is lost, and if you are married you know a “spouse” is more than a spouse. They are your best friend, the person you share all of you happy, sad, frustrating and silly moments with. The one who makes birthdays, holidays and anniversaries special because of the love shared between you two. Your right hand, your teammate in life, your favorite hello is taken from you. The person you speak to every single day is no longer a phone call or text away. Their “it’s going to be okay” hugs and kisses will never be felt again, and unbearably missed in the moment you need it the most. This arduous loss changes you; you lose your confidence and you somehow don’t know how to be yourself without your partner. The life you had planned together is no more and now you have to find the energy and strength to build a new life, alone.
Sons and daughters will not outlive their parents, as they should. Can you imagine losing your “baby girl” or “handsome little boy”? Even if they are adults, parents always see their children as their “baby.” But now they are burying their children before they get to experience the fullness of life.
For every life lost, multiple lives are impacted. These bullets don’t just take the victim’s life, they take lives of those who loved him/her. Families are torn apart by death, we lose laughter and joy, we struggle to enjoy life again; even when a happy moment finds us, we don’t know how to embrace it because all we think about is wanting to share it with our lost loved one. Our minds are clouded by grief so we struggle at work and become less productive members of society. We lose faith in humanity and live in fear because we never expected this to happen to us and never know when it may happen again.
It takes one second to pull a trigger, but that split second changes lives forever.
(written July 8, 2016)