16 Open Letters, If I Died In A Shooting
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Politics and Activism

16 Open Letters To The Most Important People In My Life, In Case I Die In A Shooting

My name is Ashley Barron and I want nothing more than to live and make the world a better place.

16 Open Letters To The Most Important People In My Life, In Case I Die In A Shooting

With all of the recent shootings, I want to say what has been on my mind deeply lately. A few months ago, I was out shopping with my sister and as soon as we left, there was a mass shooting there. I never thought that I would have ever been in that kind of situation, and I pray that I would never be put in that kind of situation. However, if that day comes, there are some things you should know.

1. To my Mom...

I love you. I hope you know that. I know this is not easy for you at all but please try to be strong. Our family needs you. I have learned so much from you. I learned how to walk, how to tie my shoes, how to braid hair, even how to ride a bike. You have been the one behind all of my actions. I wanted nothing more than for you to be proud of me. If I was to lose my life because of a shooting, do not try to hold yourself altogether. It is OK to break down, everyone will understand. Thank you for always cheering me on and wanting nothing but the best for me. I love you, bunches and bunches and bows. I will see you again.

2. To my sisters...

Where do I even begin? I am so sorry for always causing pointless arguments. I will never judge either of you for what you decide to do or how you decide to cope with this. I can not tell you how to cope or how to even move on but I can tell you, I will always be proud of the people you both become. I hope you think of the happy memories. Abby, think of when we were both riding the bike and my dumb self when I decided to put my feet on the tire and lose the whole bottom of my foot in the process. Think of how hard you were laughing. Hailey, think of how funny it was for you when I accidentally shaved my eyebrow off, just like you did. Think of any and everything that will make both of you laugh. I hope you both know how much I love you dearly. I will see you on the other side of the stars.

3. To my brother...

I am sorry. I am sorry for everything that had happened between us. I wish you nothing but endless happiness - regardless of what happened. I hope you think of the good times as well. Think of the first day we moved into our childhood home and I pushed you into the lake. Everyone thought that was funny. Well, everyone but you. Think of the good. Do not let the bad overwhelm you. At the end of the day, you will always be my brother, and I will always love you.

4. To my educators...

You have all taught me to be the best version of me possible. You told me to never give up writing, to never lose my passion for it. You taught me to follow my dreams, to never give up. I want to thank all of you - the ones I still have contact with and those I do not. I definitely would not have gotten this far in life without you. I would not be striving for a Masters in Social Work, a Bachelors in Criminal Justice, or even a Minor in Journalism. I would not have made it to college without you. Think of the quiet girl in class who slowly, but surely, got out of her shell and wanted nothing more than for you to smile. Thank you for never giving up on me.

5. To my biggest supporters...

Thank you. Whether it was for words of advice or a shoulder to cry on. Thank you. Thank you for always being there. You pushed me to follow my dreams and never give up, even when times got rough and I wanted to throw in the rug and give up. You all never left my side, even if I got difficult, so thank you for that.

6. To my friends...

Wow. I love each and every one of you. Remember the good times, remember how much I wanted to help and never wanted anyone to feel alone. Remember the moments that we were both at our worst and were there for each other. I may not be able to help how you feel but one thing I can tell you, you were all special to me. Please check up on my family, make sure they are OK. One thing is for damn sure, you were my family too.

7. To the ones I've hurt...

I am sorry. Whatever I did, I am asking for your forgiveness. I did not want to leave this Earth with things broken but this terrible thing happened and I had to go home. I am so sorry.

8. To the ones that have hurt me...

It is OK. Whether you were the ones that bullied me or took something from me, it is OK. I may have been angry but I am not one to hold a grudge. Whatever happened, know that I forgive you. In the end, we are all human. We make mistakes but it is so important to learn from those.

9. To my biological parents...

I do not know either of you personally. Tonya, my heart hurts knowing the way that I treated you. We were all going through a traumatic loss and I could not help but take it out on you. I wish things were different. But I am happy to see that you are raising Hunter and Austin the best way you can. I am proud that you are able to love them and take care of them. I am so glad to see you getting better and healthier. Jason, I never met you but that does not change anything. Truthfully, I do not know what else to say besides I hope you receive the help you need to get clean if you are willing to take it. I wish you nothing but the best. Thank you both for letting the best parents possible raise me.

10. To my Dad...

I hope you welcome me with open arms. I hope you are waiting for me at those pearly gates of Heaven. I hope you are ready to kiss my forehead because I surely do miss those from you. I know that together we will watch over Abby, Jason, Hailey, and Mom. I can not wait to see you. I love you. I can not wait to hear about all the adventures you have had in Heaven. I do not know if you are up there working at a Publix or covering yourself up in tattoos but whatever it is, I can not wait to hear it and make so many memories with you. I hope you are ready to see your baby girl again. I know I am ready to see you, hear your stories, and see your smile again.

11. To my sweet cowboy...

Kailer, I know they say you can not get into Heaven after you kill yourself but there is something in me that is telling me there is nowhere else you could have possibly gone. Whether you had to prove your worth or whatever trials you went through, I know you are up there. I hope you are ready to spur some bulls and watch some rodeos because I sure as hell am ready to bake for you again. You better be spurring those "scary" bulls as Pastor Stephen said. I can not wait to hear about it. I will see you soon cowboy.

12. To my sweet friend who was taken too soon..

Lora, your loss changed all of us. We were told to always be careful with who we went out with. I still talk to your daughter, you know. She is a spitting image of you. She is going to do great things in the future. I missed you more than words will ever explain. I hope you are up there with Dad creating the best memories in such a sacred place. I love you, I will see you soon.

13. To my aunts, uncles, and cousins...

I love all of you. You have all impacted me in one way or another. Whether it was from family reunions, days on the lake, or even just walks down the street. I enjoyed our chats, our laughs, and everything else in between.

14. To my Fatboys family...

We all had some amazing memories. You all were so welcoming to me knowing it was my first job. You taught me how to love regulars like they were our family and I will never forget them or you. You all hold a special place in my heart, I will see you again.

15. To my Dad's hospice nurse...

Beth, thank you. Thank you for telling me that it is OK to cry. Thank you for telling me that it was normal to feel how I was feeling. Thank you for pulling me aside outside and telling me that it was easy to see I was a Daddy's girl. Thank you for coming to the funeral and for letting me cry on your shoulder. You went the extra mile when you did not have to. You check up on me quite frequently and tell me how much you are proud of me. I see my Dad in you. So, thank you.

16. To my ex and to my neighbor...

I forgive you. I forgive you for telling me you hope my Dad dies. Truthfully, I wish you nothing but the best. I will not say that karma is a bitch because I think both of you seeing us screaming and crying was enough pain to bear. I hope one day you see how much your words truly hurt. I do not wish pain on you, instead, I wish you the best.

We have had more than 250 mass shootings this year alone. Some close to home, some not.

Dayton, Ohio - 10 dead.

El Paso, Texas - 20 dead.

Virginia Beach, Virginia - 13 dead.

Aurora, Illinois - 5 dead.

Thousand Oaks, California - 12 dead.

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania - 11 dead.

Annapolis, Maryland - 5 dead.

Santa Fe, Texas - 10 dead.

Parkland, Florida - 17 dead.

Sutherland Springs, Texas - 26 dead.

Las Vegas, Nevada - 58 dead.

Orlando, Florida - 5 dead.

Fort Lauderdale, Florida - 5 dead.

Burlington, Washington - 5 dead.

Orlando, Florida - 49 dead.

San Bernardino, California - 14 dead.

Roseburg, Oregon - 9 dead.

Chattanooga, Tennessee - 5 dead.

Southhaven, Mississippi - 2 dead.

Gilroy, California - 4 dead.

The list goes on but you get the point. In 2019, the USA has had more than 250 shootings as I write this. Let that sink in. Two hundred and fifty. When is it going to change? How many more lives do we have to lose? My heart hurts knowing that this is happening and nothing is being done about it.

I want to be able to go out and not be scared.

I want to go out and not think, "Am I going to be next?"

I want to be able to go out and live without fear.

I want to go shopping, to church, to the movies, to work, and to college.

I want to live.

There has not been a time where I did not turn on the news and there was, yet another, mass shooting. There has not been a time when I had to go to school and search for all the exits, some kind of escape route. There has not been a time when I felt safe going out.

Before anyone says, "This girl has no idea what it's like." I do. I was in sixth grade when I lost such a great friend to a shooting. It was heartbreaking, there were so many questions. I will always remember the words my mom said, the tears in my dad's eyes, and the crippling fear that it could happen again. One selfish act took the life of such a precious soul, a good person, a mother. I will never forget hearing my Mom say those words. I will never forget the trial. I will never forget the tears that flowed. I will never forget any of it. We need change.

I have not heard one person say, "I want to be in a mass shooting." Instead, I hear prayers that they will end. I hear prayers that they hope it will not be them or their family. Nobody wants to be in a mass shooting. Nobody wants to get the phone call that a loved one was in a mass shooting. We need change, and we need it now.

My name is Ashley Barron and I want nothing more than to live and make the world a better place.

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