Dear America, 
It is with a heavy heart that I offer you a glimpse into the harsh new reality of my family’s world. My sons, my daughter, and I are still struggling to navigate this pain-filled normal that we are forced to endure. The phrase gone too soon is an understatement. It could never describe the unfair ending of my son’s life by a man in illegal possession of a firearm. How can I heal after being robbed of one final goodbye? Why does my son, Abede, have to live with the opposing truths of having survived a mass shooting and continuing life without his brother and best friend, Akilah. 
Akilah Dasilva, was a light in darkness. Speaking of him in the past tense will forever be surreal. His smile, his energy, his impact on the world - we were robbed of the vibrant, life-giving force that was my son on April 22, 2018. The call came hours before daylight. Hearing the fear and anxiety in Abede’s voice set off every maternal alarm in my heart. My sons along with Akilah’s girlfriend, Tia Waggoner, and their friend, Alexis, were at the Waffle House when shots rang out. 
Where is Akilah???
I don’t know!!!
My heart sank with those three words; remaining hopeful was a fight that soon came to an end. The ambulance doors were open when I arrived. His shoes. Those were his shoes. I screamed his name. Akilah!... Akilah! No response. I followed the ambulance to the hospital where I was informed that he was in very critical condition. I collapsed to my knees in fervent, desperate prayer.
Lord, not my son! Not now, not like this! Father, please heal him! Bring him out of this alive!
My petition was not granted. My son - my baby - was gone. I screamed; I cried. Every ounce of strength left my body and still, it was not enough to bring him back. I did not just lose my son; he was TAKEN by an enabled criminal. The facts began to roll in as the news made headlines. The culprit’s firearms were previously seized by authorities due to his mental instability. Unfortunately, his father, who was entrusted to safeguard the weapons, returned them to him. Then, his son disappeared. Now, my son is gone.
My faith has been questioned. Many cannot understand why I am still angry. Why shouldn’t I be? It is the anger over my son being murdered and faulty gun laws and the negligent behavior of one father that led to the untimely death of four innocent people that fuels my fight. 
DeEbony Groves, Joe Perez, Taurean Sanderlin, and my son, Akilah Dasilva deserve justice. The day my son’s life was taken was the day I became his voice. I fight so that no mother has to feel what I go through daily. I fight for the safety of America’s little boys and girls. I fight because there has to be some purpose in my pain.
I remember hearing the words, “He didn’t make it.” I remember chills running through me as I touched his cold, lifeless body. Politicians told me Akilah could have prevented his own death if he was a gun carrier. As they put it, “It was the person pulling the trigger, not the gun.” Religious people told me he was in a better place and said we were in their prayers. I am told to think about the good times, but Akilah’s good days on this earth are over! And I am angered beyond words!  
I have all these memories but no justice. So many have offered advice but where is the change? It felt like a dream as I watched my son - my precious Akilah - lying in that casket. That day… those days… Many days even now are like a nightmare. Dear America, this is the new reality that has been forced upon us.
Akilah Dasilva’s Family