When Gun Violence Entered My Life

Graduate Division

On November 8, 2018, I woke up to 65 text message notifications. One was from my close friend in New York City. It read, “Holy shit the news about TO [Thousand Oaks].”

At that point I didn’t know what had happened. I began to read various news articles and realized that there had been a shooting at Borderline Bar & Grill. I grew up in a house about a mile from there and during college, I drove past this bar often as I lived in an apartment on the same street. I knew the area very well. I felt devastated for my hometown but the pain I felt was similar to shootings that came before - dread and hopelessness for those affected. Then, I opened my family group chat.

Thursday, Nov. 8, 1:35 AM

Destiny [Sister]: CNN Article - “Multiple people injured in shooting at bar in Thousand Oaks, California”

Thursday, Nov. 8, 2:38 AM

Mom: No one is safe anymore, nowhere is safe. Marky works there.

Mom: Theri [Marky’s mother] is over there looking for him. She can’t reach him.

Destiny [Sister]: Was he working tonight?

Mom: Yes. He was bussing tables. He got there at 9pm.

Mom: 11 people were killed.

Destiny [Sister]: Oh my god. Did she check with the hospitals?

Mom: Yes can’t find him

When I realized Marky had been there that night and was still unaccounted for I immediately burst into tears and called my mom. My family and I spent that morning calling each other back and forth, crying so hard we were barely able to speak, desperately waiting for more information. While we were waiting I went to get some coffee from the kitchen and saw my roommate, my eyes red and puffy. “Are you ok?,” she asked. “I don’t know,” I said. It’s a weird feeling to hope that someone close to you is so terribly injured that they are unable to get in contact, because the alternative is worse.

Thursday, Nov. 8, 3:32 AM

Destiny [Sister]: Any updates?

Mom: She’s still there trying to find him. The authorities are sending families to the teen center to check in and get information about their loved ones.

Mom: 12 dead

Thursday, Nov. 8, 6:47 AM

Dad: Did Theri check his phone location?

Jodie [Sister]: Any update?

Mom: She hasn’t said. They are still waiting.

Thursday, Nov. 8, 7:11 AM

Mom: The sheriffs are getting ready to make an announcement

Dad: Poor Marky...I feel for Theri...too much time has passed

Jodie [Sister]: What? What’s happening?

Dad: Marky works there and was working last night...they are still trying to locate him.

Jodie [Sister]: Have we heard anything?

Mom: Nothing for sure.

Jodie [Sister]: When is the sheriff making the announcement?

Jodie [Sister]: Is anyone going to see Theri?

My mom became friends with Marky’s mom, Theresa (Theri), when they worked together 20 years ago. Marky was just a baby and my mom was pregnant with my younger sister, Jodie. Marky’s older sister, Ari, is close to my age and our moms bonded over having children that were the same ages. Throughout the years, their friendship grew closer and so did our families. We watched Marky grow up from an adventurous kid into a handsome young man with a smile that lit up the room. He loved skateboarding, photography and music. We celebrated all the milestones together, graduations and birthdays, and took family trips together. Marky’s 21st birthday was in 11 days.

Thursday, Nov. 8, 7:29 AM

Mom: Dad’s assuming the worst

Dad: I just have a terrible feeling. I hope and pray he is okay.

Dad: 21 people are in the hospital right now

Jodie [Sister]: Hopefully Marky is one of the 21 people in the hospital.

Jodie [Sister]: I am praying he is ok

Thursday, Nov. 8, 8:38 AM

Jodie [Sister]: Anything?

Mom: No, not yet

I was on the phone with my mom when she got an incoming call from Theri. She hung up with me to take the call. A few minutes later, the final text came in.

Thursday, Nov. 8, 10:47 AM

Mom: He didn’t make it

In loving memory of Mark Meza, Jr. and in partnership with Scrubs Addressing the Firearm Epidemic (SAFE) and Moms Demand Action for Gun Safety in America we will be holding a bake sale on Monday, March 4, from 10 am to 3 pm in the Nursing Mezzanine at the UCSF Parnassus campus.

At this event, Moms Demand Action will distribute information about preventing gun violence in our country and our communities, sign people up to learn more about our cause, and offer delicious donated baked goods for suggested donations to Everytown for Gun Safety. We have important, life-saving work to do this year, including getting activists to Sacramento to advocate for common sense gun laws and increased funding for violence intervention programs. Your support can help us enact measures proven to save lives from gun violence.

The devastating effects of gun violence have crept into the lives of countless Americans. It crept into my life, but we can work together to prevent it from affecting the lives of others.