It all happened in a blur. In a crowded mall, surrounded by hundreds of people, a couple days before Christmas. No one expected it. 4:28 PM, gunshots are fired. Everyone in the mall panics. Everyone is running in different directions, trying to make it out alive. Right when I think I made it out, hear the loudest noise I have ever heard. I scream as I feel the most excruciating pain when a bullet pierces through my skin. I fall to the floor, bleeding.
The firing ends, and everyone surrounds me. I hear people all around me talking, but I can’t make out the words and everything starts to fade. I hear sirens all around me. The pain is unbearable, but I don’t cry. At least, I don’t think I’m crying.
As I lie here, my whole life flashes before my eyes. The good times and the bad. The time I helped Grandpa build birdhouses when I was seven. I remember the fear I felt when the CPS took me from my grandma’s to keep me from my mom when I was fourteen and then moving in with grandma permanently shortly after. I go back to all the time I spent in my math class in high school because I was so close to my teacher and it was a safe haven for me throughout those years. I remember the excitement I felt when an old friend invited me to be in his movie when I was twenty-one and the dread I felt when my grandmother died just two years later. I remember the magic I felt the very first time I flew in an airplane at the end of last year
I think about my family, and I wonder how they will go on without me. I worry about my sick mother and how losing her first born at the ripe age of twenty-six will affect her. I wonder about my cousin, who I grew up with and loved like a sister… and her children, who looked up to me in ways I will never realize. I imagine my little four-year-old niece growing up, wondering what she will remember about me if anything. I remember all the arguments I had with my aunt who I’ve grown to disdain over the way she tried to control my life. None of that even matters now.
And I remember my best friends and how they were always there for me no matter what. It was ultimately their love that taught me what love truly was.
I think of all the years I wasted by being afraid. I never got the chance to accomplish anything I wanted to do in life. I never got to see myself as a successful writer or photographer. I wasn’t able to start my own business or build a brand that will outlive me. People won’t remember me for the things I wish they could remember me for. I spent my whole life wanting to see the world, but I never got the chance because I felt held back by the ones who claimed to love me the most.
I will never be able to backpack through Latin America or Europe. I will never be able to explore the Pagodas in Myanmar or see the Great Pyramids of Egypt. I will never know the thrill of going parasailing in Chile or scuba diving in the Great Reefs in Australia. I will never know what it feels like to actually live the life I wanted.
As much as I want to survive these painful moments, I know it’s too late. Everything has faded to black, and my heartbeat is fading fast. At this point, I just hope that when my family and friends find out they will know they are loved. I love you. I know you’ll probably want to pray for me, but please don’t. Praying won’t bring me back when I’m gone and it sure as hell won’t bring me justice. Most importantly, it won’t stop people from being killed as senselessly as I was and as many others will be. I don’t want your prayers. I want you to get angry. Not just at whoever ended me before I got the chance to start, but angry at society for things like this becoming so commonplace that it happened to me.
I had my whole life ahead of me, and just like that, it’s over.