Deonka Deidra Drayton
Dee Dee, as she was lovingly called by her friends and family, died at the age of 32 in the mass shooting at Pulse nightclub where she worked as a bartender. Dee Dee was raised in Midlands South Carolina and her early life was not without its struggles. As a young child, she suffered a brain injury as the result of a car accident in which she was thrown from the car. Throughout her teens and early adulthood she struggled with addiction and subsequently had several run-ins with the law. That had all recently changed though, and Dee Dee was in the midst of a personal renaissance. She had turned her life around, she was headed in the right direction before she was so abruptly and permanently removed from her path.
Dee Dee fits the profile of the kind of person our society so readily gives up on: an addict with a rap sheet. There are those who would believe that such attributes automatically make her ineligible for to the sanctity of life, that Dee Dee was a valueless thug. However, despite everything she was up against, Dee Dee just kept going. One day at a time, one foot in front of the other, she was living proof that through love and support no one is beyond rehabilitation. Her absence from our world further illuminates the value of her singular existence.
Today, in honor of Dee Dee I'm motivating myself to keep moving, whatever my setbacks may be. So often I'm tempted to give up on - or not even try - things that may seem too hard, telling myself that nobody really cares anyway, that I don't make a difference. Looking at a story like Dee Dee's it's so apparent I am privileged to have only myself as an obstacle.
I hope others will join me in never, ever, stopping trying to be a better person. With persistence, we will find peace.