At a young age, my doctor told me that I could not physically have children. So when I was pregnant with my son almost four years ago, I was petrified. My future was already bleak, considering I was homeless at the time.
I looked into my son’s eyes and I knew he was heaven-sent. Raising him single-handedly, I knew my journey into motherhood would be tough.
Born with pulmonary stenosis, my son had heart surgery at the tender age of 11 months. During his procedure, I worried as I thought about life and the things we’d experienced together. I knew that no matter what I had to nurture and protect him at all costs. I made the promise to him, standing over his hospital bed, that I’d do whatever it takes.
Which brings me to the topic of gun violence.
I’ve had my fair share of encounters with gun violence this year. I’ve lost friends, and even a sibling. So, thinking that, another situation involving my son and how that could have ended tragically, brings tears to my eyes.
It was the day before Halloween and I was walking back to my house after retrieving some items from my car. Three males came from behind a tree, on foot, shooting at a house adjacent to mine. I immediately screamed for everyone to get on the floor as I searched for my son. I found him happily playing with his tablet in his bedroom as more shots rang out.
“Do we have to get on the floor Mommy?” he asked. I just grabbed him and covered him as I silently prayed.
Thankfully, no one was hurt.
My street was flooded with police as we were told the shooting was some sort of retaliation mix-up between groups of teens. More than 20 bullet casings were removed from the scene.
Being granted a new day, I decided to put the day’s worries behind me until I walked into the common area in my house and noticed that a bullet had pierced my window. I looked behind me and saw a hole in my wall. I felt sick to my stomach as I realized this was the same area where my son plays with his toys.
Leaving Memphis was an option for me, but crime is everywhere. However, it’s different when the crime hits close to home. My son, my sweet innocent child, could have lost his life. It’s heart-wrenching knowing that homicides involving children are rising and my son could have been a victim.
What are we going to do about the gun violence in Memphis?
Yes, we need to protect ourselves but why must it cost the lives of others, especially our children?
Recently, a 10-year-old boy lost his life, and his 12-year-old brother was injured in a drive-by shooting.
This tragic news comes freshly on the heels of the shooting death of 1-year-old Robin Keefer, who was accidentally shot by her 3-year-old brother who came upon a gun carelessly left within his access.
Why all of the carelessness and when does it stop?
Earlier this year while on assignment for The New Tri-State Defender, I spoke to Lt. Hannah, a gun-safety enthusiast with the Memphis Police Department. At a community event, he explained different options on how, when and where to store guns.
“We even provide free gun locks if you don’t have one,” he said.
So why aren’t we using them?
There are so many questions, and until we really have the resolutions on how to solve them, one thing is factual: It’s time to be more involved in the protection of our children.
With those who read this in mind, I pray we find a way to come together and move toward a solution for the sake of our children.
I mean, they are our future, right?
(Dalisia Brye is a freelance reporter for The New Tri-State Defender.)