The following is excerpted from From Bullet to Bullhorn: Stories of Advocacy Activism and Hope, by Lois Schaffer, a compilation of stories by 18 people located in various states throughout the U.S. These stories are indicative of human resilience, turning tragedies into advocacy, activism and the preservation of life.
Trenelle Gabay: Brooklyn, New York:
I found love. I imagined it, visualized it to come. We met. He chased me and I caught him. He peeled down walls until I started to fall in love with him. His words: “If you fall I will catch you.” He was a poet in his own right. I used to say to him, “You always have the right words to say Mr. Gabay,”and there I was in Love.
What I miss. His warm, alluring playful, coy smile. His enticing, bright, intense eyes; deep, sonorous, passionate voice. When we held hands I would feel his strength flow right through me. His gentle kisses on my forehead consumed my thoughts with the constant feeling of security.
Hearing the beating of his heart as he slept while my head moved on his chest from his breath. Calling him happy feet as our competitive natures would lead us to the dance floor when we heard a dope beat. The list of missing can go for a lifetime because You are the one that is missing.
Note to My Husband
I commemorate the memory of You, my dear husband, on what would have been your 45th birthday. Turning the headline of tragedy to a recollection of the life you lived and lives that you continue to inspire and touch in spirit.
With loving memories always and forever, your wife,
The Hardest Decision
On September 7, 2015, my beloved husband, Carey Gabay was shot. Carey was 43 years young, and I had to watch my husband fight for his life eight days as he lay in a coma. On September 15, 2015 one of the hardest, darkest decisions of my life was upon me. I had to take my husband off of life support as he was pronounced brain dead.
Thoughts of my husband continually reverberate throughout my body and soul as he is missed every minute of the day. I am writing this on his 45th birthday. I wanted to keep him in my heart wile displaying our magnetic chemistry, attraction and love.
My husband was Assistant Counsel to our Governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo. Ironically, Carey helped draft legislation for the SAFE ACT which set precedence for sensible gun ownership in New York State. However, Carey became a victim and so did I.
How it Happened
Every year in Brooklyn there is an annual celebration called the Labor Day Parade or the West Indian Carnival which happens on the first Monday in September. The parade attracts millions of participants. On display are beautiful costumes and rhythmic sounds of music.
Before the opening of the parade the actual start of carnival is a pre-dawn street festival called J’Ouvert which in French means daybreak. Carey left our home alongside his brother and friends to take part in his heritage by partaking in J’Ouvert which is characterized with camaraderie and joyousness indicative of our rich West Indian heritage. But on this particular day instead of a celebration, it became a day of horror, shock, mourning, sorrow, heartbreak.
As Carey walked down the street with his brother and friends, two rival gangs were in a shootout. As they ran and ducked for cover, Carey was caught in between the crossfire and shot in the head.
Helplessness is Overwhelming
Walking into the hospital and seeing my husband lay there, the emotions are impossible to explain. There was a darkness of despair and for the first time in my life I felt helpless. The news of gun violence was being broadcasted daily and I never thought that I could be a victim. With each passing day of my husband fighting for his life I kept hoping and praying that he would live, but with each passing day it became apparent that all hope was fading. Everyday my husband’s health was depleting and he was slowly dying.
The tragedy receives much notoriety because of Carey being Governor Cuomo’s legal assistant, but he was my husband, a caring giving man with everything to live for.
Having children was a dream that Carey and I wanted. While Carey was comatose, I explored the avenues modern medical technology as to whether we could harvest Carey’s sperm. Carey was the love of my life and even though I had faith I know my husband was dying right before my eyes.
Making Decisions for the Future
I began to argue with him and he couldn’t even respond. I then sobbed over him and I told him what I was going to do and that was continue our dream and to try to have our baby. Before my husband died there were two things that I whispered in his ear right before the doctors took him off life support and that was: we will receive justice and I am going to have our child and please when you meet God ask him to send me a healthy baby boy.
God heard my heart cries and granted me a prayer request. I thankful to science and the advances of medical technology that I welcomed my son: Carey Wyatt Gabay into the world on June 11, 2018.
Our Baby is my Gift
While I suffered a tragic loss, the baby is my gift. I needed to gather all the strength I could to heal. It is gratifying to know that I have loving, supportive family and friends. But I know that it is ultimately me who would have to take the steps to create a new meaningful existence for myself and at the time for my unborn child. A
I sought counseling, practiced yoga more intensely and cried my eyes out for weeks, which turned into months then years. Those first two years were overwhelming; but I will say that those tears fueled my passion to create a new and meaningful existence which is my life and now a whole new journey of becoming a mother.
Carey held the highest regard for social justice and academics. I established the Carey Gabay Foundation under three principles that Carey lived by, compassion, community and integrity. My husband’s life story is a testimony and serves as inspiration as a model for the foundation.
This will be his legacy to our society and the pride his son will inherit.