By Darshay Smith*
My mother, Shaun, was about to turn twenty five years old in January, 1994.
She had one beautiful daughter, who had just turned one. They were living in Hayward with their aunt’s family. That day, Shaun had worked an eight hour shift at work. She was exhausted and couldn’t wait to get home to see her baby girl.
Driving the dark streets of Hayward alone, Shaun went quickly. It was 1:45 in the morning. She was stopped at the spotlight. To her left, she saw a group of young Mexican men readily to cross the street. Shaun waited.
Next thing she knew, these guys were walking towards her car. Shaun began to panic. Her fingers hit the lock button on the doors. She wanted to speed off.
The guys approached the car with no force or intention to hurt her.
“Excuse me ma’am, do you know what time it is?” one asked.
“It is 1:45 am,” my mom replied.
As she began to drive off, she saw the light. One of the boys had pulled out a gun and shot her. She screamed. Blood poured down her face and all over the inside of the car. Her face was steaming hot. Immediately her whole body grew very hot and she had no control of it.
“My last day on Earth. Shay is going to grow up without a mother,” she thought.
After managing to drive away she picked up her phone and called her sister Jessica.
“I just was shot!” Her sister hung up and called the family.
My mom made it to her aunt’s house and ran in her room. “Call 911! My face is burning!” she screamed. Her aunt and uncle were barely waking up and thought she was hallucinating. They started to scream, and then called 911.
All my family came up to the hospital. They cried and prayed. The doctor later came with the results. The gun had hollow point bullets and the bullet exploded inside her face. It would take more than eighteen months for the bullet fragments to surface to the skin.
“I would then be able to pick them up out of my face like pimples,” she told me later. My mom stayed in the hospital for a while as she went through a serious operation and later had plastic surgery.
Months passed and my mom was back at home. After she was released her face was swollen and in pain. The part where the bullet entered remained very dark. For three months, my mom stayed in the house, afraid to go outside, and replaying the scene in her head.
During recovery, she never went to therapy or counseling. She thought that she could deal with it by just talking to family and close friends. Later she realized she needed counseling.
It has been eighteen years since that incident.
She still replays the scene in her head. When she watches a movie or crime show that has anything to do with guns and killings she catches herself replaying it.
When we go to bed all the televisions are on. It can never be dark in our house because she gets so nervous that something bad is going to happen. When the power goes out, all these thoughts in her head begin to pour out. When my brother and I are out with our friends late at night, she calls often to make sure we are okay. Her nerves are always acting up until we are safely at home because then she knows we are okay.
I ask her how life has been. “I am living and I have a story to tell,” she says. “I am blessed and thanking God every day.”
But I catch her crying sometimes at night when we listen to killings on the news or in a movie.
*Darshay Smith was born and raised in Oakland, CA. She now attends San Joaquin Delta College as a sophmore student studying to become a registered nurse.
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