After the election many of us are feeling a sense of grief and loss. A normal response to grief is pain and anger. It can be a struggle to hold these overwhelming emotions. We remain committed to healing, teaching, and learning together. We encourage all of you to find ways to show care for the people and communities you love.
As survivors of homicide victims, we know what it means to mourn and still find ways to move forward. At the Peace Institute, we always turn toward the experience and expertise in the survivor's movement to guide us. We're blessed beyond measure for the leadership shown by family members of murder victims who wake up everyday and choose to keep on working for more peaceful communities. If they can do it, we can do it.
One survivor we love who has transformed her pain and anger into power and action is Virginie Cazir. We asked this friend to share her story.
Virginie Cazir is the co-founder of The Gabriel Project. Virginie's is the co-founder of the Jimmy Velasquez Memorial Fund. Virginie's son Gabriel Josh-Cazir Pierre was killed in 2012.
Can you share a memory of your loved one who was murdered?
Gabriel Josh-Cazir Pierre was a 17 month old bundle of joy. He walked into a room and it lit up. Not a care in the world. All he wanted to do was play. He was an angel. There are so many memories. He started walking and talking really early. He knew what he wanted. "Water, juice, milk," - you'd better give him what he asks for. When he was a month old, his older brother put him in his backpack to take him to school to show his friends. I was wondering why is he walking so fast out of the house and stopped him to check what toy he packed. I saw that it was Gabi!
He was a huge drooler. The day of his funeral it drizzled. It wasn't a heavy rain; it wasn't hot or cold. It wasn't something you wanted to run from. You wanted to stand in it. And I thought: he is really drooling on me. I miss and want to hold him. I want to make everything go back so I can see him. Sometimes it still feels like a dream. I am a survivor. I am living and pushing through it.
How does your experience as a survivor of a homicide victim shape your work and your life?
I always say I would never wish this on my worst enemy. As a woman, I had to pick up the pieces and be brave. The brave face only tells half the story. On the inside if you open up the book, the pages are ugly. The surface is beautiful. When the night comes the terror begins. Taking control of the healing is not easy. It is a journey. It's a loooooong journey. You re-live it every year.
What are you doing to inform, influence, and impact policy and how can the community support your peacemaking efforts?
My son Gabriel was left in a hot vehicle for hours by his childcare provider and died. Since Gabi passed away things have changed. The childcare center responsible for killing my child re-wrote their policies on buses for no tinted windows. Justice in my case was not found and no one was prosecuted for Gabi's death. But I keep working for other families. We as parents give you our children to take care of all day. Let's make a change for the loss. Let's not be sorry, let's make a movement. Help us pass "Gabriel's Law." Gabriel's Law would hold daycare centers and transportation providers liable for any injuries to children in their care.