A Mother’s Loss

By Eunice Onwona and Tashanea Whitlow 11-18-13

Khris McKinney  image courtesy: Taisha Akins
Khris McKinney
image courtesy: Taisha Akins

Every parent’s worst fear is outliving a child.

On an Indian summer night that fear became a reality for Taisha Akins, who lost her 17-year-old son to gun violence. She can still hear her eldest son’s chilling words. “Ma, they shot Khris” are words that will forever haunt her. Her mother’s instinct kicked in and she knew her baby was gone.
“I wanted to go crazy…a lot of anger, a lot of guilt. I was confused because all my kids were hurt at once,” said Akins.

Two years later, she often finds herself wondering what Khris would look like as an adult. She remembers him as a young handsome teenager. On a recent beautiful fall night, Akins reminisced about Khris’ sense of loyalty and how much family and friends loved him.

“He would be the kid that would wake up at 6 in the morning and shovel a neighbor’s driveway for them,” said Akins.

He inherited kindhearted qualities from his mother who finds comfort in feeding the homeless. Khris was just as kind with his siblings. He was very close with his older brother and helped his younger sister with her homework every day.

Akins recalled Khris being a savvy businessman with potential.
“Khris would regularly buy products in bulk from BJ’s and sell the items at a higher price to make a profit. He was an entrepreneur on the come up,” said Akins. She felt her young man was truly evolving.

The pain of losing a loved one will always weigh heavily on Akin’s heart, but she continues to find solace in her spirituality.
“I believe in God and things happen for a reason, and I have no control over it,” said Akins.
After her son’s killing, Akins became an activist against violence. She shares her story to empower others, especially mothers affected by gun violence.
Akins is, however, in the driver’s seat when it comes to her future endeavors and is currently studying Communications and Cultural Diversity. She hopes to own a homeless shelter and provide assistance to young mothers.

As the matriarch, Akins is determined to ensure that her tragedy doesn’t define her. She continues to stay strong for her family, especially her two children. Akins wants to be remembered as a fighter, not a stereotype.