I was 8 years old, asleep in the top bunk of my bed, when I heard guys yelling outside my house. Then pop, pop, pop and a bullet came smashing through my window landing in the wall just inches above my head.
After that night I started sleeping on the bottom bunk and no one ever slept on the top bunk again. But that wasn't the only change. It was kind of like my innocence was taken away. I stopped playing outside like I used to because I carried fear of getting hurt. I started paying attention to the noises outside my house and wherever I went. I listened for any angry voices or people yelling at each other, because arguments can escalate quickly into violence.
I continue to hear gunshots near my house and it makes me uncomfortable. My main fear is that one of my family members, not just me, could be in danger. Instead of feeling fear all the time, I decided that it's better to have a plan in mind to deal with shootings.
At home, instead of doing fire drills, I had my little sisters practice what to do if there was another shooting. I told them to find a place to hide, like under a bed, to lay down on the floor, and call 911 if possible.
But this 4th of July made me wonder how often my little sister thinks about gun violence, and whether there's any way to prepare for it. When firecrackers went off, she ran under the bed and laid on the floor. She was terrified.
It took me right back to when the bullet came through my window as a kid. Seeing the fear on my sister's face reminded me just as scared I was that night.