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Living For You

“My actions still matter.”-Pierce Corcoran

Every day I go to the gym, I wear this bracelet as a reminder of who my brother was. What he believed in. I wear it as I go about my daily tasks, going to work, the grocery store, driving around in my car or going to “normal” events, such as birthday parties, which have become more painful since your passing, Pierce. The singing of “Happy Birthday” and obligatory passing around of nauseatingly sweet birthday cake have become rituals that…maybe one day, I will begin to enjoy again, but for now, kind of annoy me. They serve as a reminder that you are no longer here, to grow another year older or celebrate all of life’s ups and downs with.💔

I am trying not to become a bitter person. I try to enjoy the things that are going right in other people’s lives, but I wish they would be as understanding of the fact that I am not “okay” right now. Things that might be happy for them are not necessarily happy for me.

Luckily for me, most of the people I surround myself with are empathetic and nice, but there are the occasional idiots. I try to give them the benefit of the doubt. Maybe they don’t know what it’s like to have their world flipped upside down.

My last post was titled “Living Without You” and I wanted to title this one “Living For You” intentionally.

I try to honor you, Pierce, in everything I do. In how I act and what I say. I am soft when the occasion calls for it and I can be just as hard when the occasion calls for it. I am patient with people, but other times I don’t mince words.

I speak the truth, regardless. I try to love people, even when they aren’t loveable. Sometimes, loving people isn’t easy. I think people have this misconception of what “love” actually is. Love is hard. Love is not handing things to people or coddling them–sometimes, love is speaking the truth or letting those we love make mistakes. I think the same can be said of our country right now.

I love my country, but it has made many mistakes over the years. I look at the current state of affairs, at all the problems we have with illegal immigration, and I can’t help but compare it to that of a parent and a child. Although I don’t currently have children of my own, it was an illustration that instantly struck me.

We have become a country that strives to hand things out, right and left, never thinking of the consequences that will come further down the road. We have “sanctuary” cities that insulate and protect criminals.

It reminds me a bit of a parent trying to pacify a bratty child by giving the child all that it wants. What would we think of a parent who rewards their child for violent behavior or doing wrong things? We wouldn’t think very highly of them, would we? Nor would it be a very affective method. If anything, it would encourage other children to act that way also.

This is how our country has made me feel.

Even despite all of that though, I want to live my life in a way that makes me proud. Because my actions still matter, just as yours did, Pierce.

Even though the man who killed you is now being deported, without a felony for killing you on his record, I still try to find the bright spots in my days.

I can not control our judicial system, but I can continue to fight. I can fight for justice without letting the injustice of our situation eat away at me or make me a bitter person.

Because I am not mad at Fransisco Eduardo, although some people say I should be. Now, granted, I am writing this from my couch, on a day that has been relatively easy, as far as the PTSD and media coverage goes. It may not be like that every day. I have my angry days. I have my sad days. And I have my days where I know everything will be okay because Jesus is my savior and everything is in his control.

I have forgiven the man that killed my brother, in my heart, but the person I can’t forgive isn’t even a person. It is my country.

It’s rather difficult being mad at a concept, an entity. Something as big as a “government” or “judicial system”.

A quote that I made up and that sits at the top of my Facebook page comes to mind.

“I don’t aspire to be average and neither should you.”

I have always held the people around me to higher standards. I demand the same of my country. We need accountability. We need laws. We need right and wrong, because without those things—we are nothing.

America, your actions still matter.

If not for my brother, than for me. For my family. For all the American people. For the legal immigrants who have come here and obtained their citizenship the RIGHT way. Because there is a right way.

I will not let my anger or skepticism taint my life. I will, however, hold my country to its highest standard. I will continue to fight for the rights of myself and the people around me.

In so doing, I will continue to live on, for Pierce. Pierce lives through me, my family, and all those who knew him.❤️

Living Without You

This is Avery, Pierce’s older sister. I’ve been trying to put into words what it’s like not having Pierce here anymore…and it has been hard for me. I have been trying to keep myself busy because..some days, it’s hard enough just waking up and going about a “normal” day. Somehow, I seem to think that by filling my day with things to do, it keeps it from becoming too quiet, because it’s when it’s quiet that I think about you, Pierce. Or really, I think about you even when it’s not quiet.

I think about you when I go for walks in my neighborhood; you always used to honk at me as you drove by on your way to the gym or work. I always hold my breath and feel like I’m being punched in the gut when I near the crossstreets where you last honked at me, on the morning of the day you died, December 29th. I usually cry when I see that I am nearing that spot. I meant to call you or text you right after that happened and ask what you were doing like I usually did, but for whatever reason, that day, I didn’t.

I think about you when I see FedEx trucks, which is every day. I see them everywhere. On the interstate, in parking lots, at redlights. Some of those times that you would honk at me, you were working during the pre-Christmas rush, driving one of the FedEx vans and you would wave at me.

I think about you when I go to the gym. You were always at the gym. In the days after, I remember getting on a treadmill and just watching my feet go forward. Wondering why everything just kept going. Today I felt overwhelmed by the dozens of TVs, playing commercials and talk shows and political news—all of it, just a bunch of pointless noise. I can’t help but look at the people around me there sometimes and feel so alone. A world full of living people. When I go to the cemetery, everyone there is dead…and I’m somewhere in between the living and the dead.

I’ve felt loss before, even around the same time of year—near Christmas, 10 years ago, but this is a different kind of loss. You were my brother. We were connected.

I remember that night, I was home, watching The Office with my husband. We weren’t told until nearly 3 hours later that you had been killed. Something about them “reconstructing the scene”. I was the first person to the hospital. My husband parked our car and I stood with a fire chief until Tim got back and my mom arrived. I don’t even remember us walking down the hallway, but we ended up in a room where a doctor was just…looking at us.

And there you were, Pierce. If I hadn’t known any better, I would have thought you were just sleeping. How could this be possible?

You were laying on a cold, metal table. You were wearing one of your favorite shirts and you had a tube coming out of your mouth. You still had grass in your hair from where you had been dragged out of what was left of your car and to the side of Chapman Highway. The doctor told us what your cause of death had been. I just remember touching your forehead; I had never seen you be so still in my entire life.

It was later that night that we learned that the man who caused your wreck was here in this country illegally. And that he didn’t once leave his car to try and help you or see if you were okay.

It was around that time that I had to call your best friend, Kashyap, who you used to play basketball with on the court in our backyard. I had to tell him that you didn’t make it. And over the next several minutes, all your friends showed up and had to see your lifeless body…all because of a man who didn’t take personal responsibility seriously. I had to pull the sheet back from your face, Pierce, and show your friends that their lives would never be the same again.

That none of our lives would ever be the same again.

Now, on an almost daily basis, I get called a “racist” by people who can never understand the pain my family has been through and who don’t know a thing about my personal character. People who focus on the lawbreakers themselves and not the laws being broken.

Now, I avoid a certain stretch of road.

Now, when people ask me how I’m doing, I don’t know how to answer, but if I don’t feel like saying, “I’m good.”, I don’t.

Now, when my family goes out to eat, we have to ask for a table for 7 instead of 8.

I can’t even pinpoint all of the things that have changed because there are so many. Things I slowly realize each day and probably will continue to for years to come, the rest of my life.

We will never have another Christmas or birthday with you, Pierce. Never go on another vacation with you. Never help you move into the house you were looking at buying before all of this happened.

I look at pictures of you as a baby because I love seeing your smile, but it also makes me so sad. You are frozen in time. You were so innocent.

Lately, I’ve found myself watching movies and it goes something like this:

This movie came out in 2004. I remember us seeing it in theaters, we were really excited about it and dad got us all out of school early. I was a freshman in high school, so you would have been in elementary school. Did I share my popcorn with you? Was I nice to you that day? I remember being so excited about that movie…but now I wish I hadn’t spent that 2 hours watching it and instead, I had just hung out with you, Pierce. Really hung out and just not been distracted.

I think back on times in our past and wonder why I didn’t appreciate them more and really just…be in the moment. I wish I could go back to when there were three of us: me, Connor and you, Pierce.

You helped Connor and I move into our houses and out of apartments. We never got the chance to help you do something like that. Never got to be in your wedding.

I kind of hate meeting new people now. The “me” that people meet is confusing and I am confused about what to tell them about her. Hi, my name is Avery. I’m…?

Do I tell them about you and what has happened? Or do I pretend that everything is just great? It’s nice when people just know what has happened and offer their condolences; it takes out a lot of the guesswork on my end. Because the only thing more sad than talking about you is not talking about you, Pierce. I don’t like pretending that things are “normal” for people I don’t even know. I don’t see the point in that.

It’s kind of exhausting having these thoughts all the time.

I miss you so much, Pierce.💔

I remember the day of your funeral, we followed you in a hearse to the cemetery. Connor was in the car behind us and I couldn’t help but think…I was in the middle. Pierce, Avery and Connor. That’s how we had always posed for pictures too, with me in the middle.

Mom and dad had to pick out the suit you wore and your casket when they should have been helping you pick out things for a house.

I know you are in a better place now. You are in heaven, but it doesn’t make any of this any easier.

I love you, Pierce.❤️

A Poem for Pierce

The following is a poem, written by my dad, DJ.❤️ He wrote this the other day when thinking about Pierce and he wanted me to share it here on the blog.

Writing has been such a great tool for everyone in my family as we try to heal from the loss of Pierce. Sometimes, there are no words, but other times, it helps to get them out on paper and describe what we have been feeling these last almost 2 months.💔

Gifts From Our Precious Gift

Pierce, you worked so hard during the holidays. A busy time of year for FEDEX employees. We didn’t see you a lot during those weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas. When you weren’t working you were at the gym staying committed to your health goals or trying to do your Christmas shopping.

I remember talking to you about not spending too much on everyone. You would come home with gifts for me to wrap and I could see how generous and thoughtful you were being with each gift. You bought Connor a very nice coat because you knew he worked outdoors and worried about him being cold. You bought Avery the most beautiful clothes. Sweaters, scarves, hats and wraps. Each piece exactly her style! You bought Tim some really nice cologne. Something you knew he probably wouldn’t splurge on himself. You got MiMi and Poppy an air fryer so they could cook healthier. 🥰

You bought Jade gifts for her dogs because you know how much they mean to her. You bought her cute clothes and sweet gifts but you were putting money toward a more significant gift. A gift with more meaning. A gift with future dreams and plans attached….. 😢💔

There is still much emptiness and sadness as we long for you. We just can’t make sense of your disappearance from our lives. At times we feel as though we are going crazy. Things that once were routine are a challenge for us. Merely getting out of bed and getting dressed are difficult. How can we live without you? We don’t understand how that’s possible!

Your gifts to your Dad and I have given us much comfort and now take on new meaning as we struggle getting our days started. We begin our day knowing you are here and you are pushing us to get going! You gave your Dad shaving items from “The Art of Shaving” store. He proudly uses them each morning knowing they are from you.

You gave me lotions. Each one labeled with things I need to get through my day: LOVE, FOCUS, COMFORT and SLEEP. All things I need and wondering if you knew I would need them.

Pierce, you were such a gift to our family. We cherish every moment of the 22 years we got to love you and be loved by you. We will never stop missing you but we will get up each day and carry you with us in all we do.

Psalms 147:3

Now Comforted By Friends, Family and Strangers❤️

Matthew 5:4 Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.

Avery began your Justice for Pierce Corcoran page on Jan. 4th. A lot has happened since then. She shared your story at the Capitol triangle in Washington, DC. She did such a great job and her words were very impactful. Each of us takes every opportunity to tell others about you. About your life. Your faith and compassion. The love you had for your family, friends and Jade. Your love of exercise and a healthy lifestyle. Your love of life. We also, sadly, have to talk about your death.

We don’t know why this had to happen to you, but we do know we are compelled to honor you. We don’t always understand it, but we feel your presence and know you are guiding us through our grief. You’ve put us in places we didn’t imagine had any significance at the time, but revealed great comfort and healing through connecting with others.

Each time we find ourselves wondering “Why are we doing this?”, it becomes evident. You brought us to an event we weren’t really sure why we agreed to go to. It just so happened we met the trauma doctor who worked hard to save you. It brought us comfort to hug him and thank him for his efforts.

We knew then why we were there.

It was you! Sending comfort through others! 💜

You were with us while searching

for your brothers “giant” rabbit. As we walked the neighborhood in 20 degree weather wondering how we would find “Barley”, we found something more. We saw a dear man who had also lost his son recently. We cried and prayed together. We’ve found in the midst of great pain there is great love all around us. Many of us are hurting for different reasons, but leaning on our Faith and each other.

We were invited to be guests of Senator Marsha Blackburn and Congressman Tim Burchett at President Trumps State of the Union Address and we were honored to represent you. These trips are hard because returning home we are faced with the reality you are still gone. Nothing we do will bring you back, but we will continue to let God lead us and we will follow, not always knowing why, but knowing God has a plan!

Even in our greatest heartache, we know God is with us and you, dear son, are with him!

Our actions matter! 🇺🇸❤️🙏🏼

31 Days

31 days….

We’ve never been apart for more than a week and even then, we would talk, text, or FaceTime. We long to hear you in our home. There is silence where we once heard your alarm, your footsteps, your razor, your shower, you cooking, you watching sports, you talking on your phone, you yelling goodbye as you grabbed your keys to head to the gym. Your everyday sounds…. now there are no more.

Pierce, you would be amazed by so many wonderful family and friends who have hugged us, cried with us, comforted and encouraged us since you went to heaven. I guess you are aware of it, because so many of the things we’ve experienced can only be Heaven sent.

Our journey over the last 31 days is a blur in many ways. We were in New York with other grieving families, then DC, where your sister spoke of you at the Capitol Triangle, we met with representatives from our state as well as the Vice President of our country. We’ve met with local leaders and have plans to meet others to discuss our concerns.

We don’t know why this happened to you, but we do know we are being led to talk about it. To share your impact on our life for the 22 years we were so blessed with. Our hope is someone’s life is saved or changed by our interactions with others as we share your life.

Sure, some of the places and people we’ve encountered over these days are considered impressive, important and powerful, but they are just people. The really impressive and important people are right here beside us. Our family, friends, neighbors, and coworkers. So many grieving with us and crying with us because they know we can’t do it alone.

Pierce, you’ve orchestrated some amazing things to comfort us these days. You and God have been busy sending us signs when we least expect it and most need it! We are thankful for them and thankful you guided us to be where we needed to be to receive your messages. We long to be reunited with you. Until that day, we will be your voice as God guides our steps. We love and miss you, our precious son ❤️🙏🏼

Our Response

Our local newspaper ran this story on Friday, January 25th.

This is our response:

Defense’s claim is false. Video footage of the crash shows no cars or traffic in the right hand lane. The defendant chose to swerve left into our son’s car head on. Pierce’s headlights were on and the defendant chose the most dangerous and deadly option. He could have chosen to brake or swerve to the right lane, which was clear.

As to defendant’s criminal history. Crossing the border illegally and never attempting in 14 years to obtain citizenship is a crime.

As to his past in his country. Can he prove he was in the Mexican military, a police officer, wounded by a gang or his father-in-law has cancer? Where would we verify this information? I don’t know how the military or police work in his country, but there’s no military or police I know who would sit in their vehicle like a coward and not try to help the person he just hit head on and caused their car to spin into other traffic. The young man the defendant caused to hit Pierce rendered aid to our son as soon as he got out of his vehicle, but the defendant never left his truck. I don’t care what he claims to have been in his country, he has shown no attempt to be responsible while in this country. No citizenship, no driver’s license, no insurance, no compassion or remorse for our son who laid dying on the side of the road. He had plenty of opportunities in 14 years to do things the right way and certainly that night he showed, yet again, his lack of responsibility.

Mr. Stephens, How dare you say no one else in that court room has more reason to stay in this community than your client! What is it you claim he’s done for this community? We don’t know because he’s living in the shadows. What we do know is he took the life of our youngest son, Pierce. He watched others pull Pierce’s body from his car and try to revive him. Never checking to see if he could help in any way. There were many people affected that night. They will be changed forever by what they witnessed. Pierce’s girlfriend, Jade, who was injured physically and emotionally. The young man traveling with his sister and her 3 month old who was unable to avoid hitting Pierce’s car due to your client negligently crossing the centerline, hitting Pierce head on. That young man, after checking on his family, rushed to Pierce, whose car was careened to the opposite side of the highway. The good samaritans who stopped to help. The first responders, who would later learn Pierce was a child of one of their own. The Trauma team, who learned one of their coworkers was on her way by ambulance and they would have to tell her she lost her best friend she loved so much. Do you really understand how many people he has caused grief? Being part of a community means taking great care to be a good neighbor, coworker, friend and citizen. You can be none of these if you do not follow laws, rules or guidelines. You can tell everyone about what your client allegedly did while in his country, but his actions while in mine cost my son his life. I can, however, tell you and prove to you what Pierce did for his community. He most recently attended Sevier Heights Baptist Church. He worked for FEDEX Express as a courier. He bought a brand new car on his own in 2017. He was an insured driver. He was studying to get his personal trainer certification and worked out daily. He was CPR certified. He journaled everyday his spiritual, fitness and nutritional goals. He was compassionate toward others and made friends easily. He remained close to his childhood friends and teammates as well as their families. He saved money for a down payment for a house and had put a ring in layaway for his girlfriend Jade. He was planning his future. Mr. Stephens, I dare say Pierce had every reason to stay in his community.

Our bodies yearn to hold you again.

A physical longing and yearning to hold you, touch and hear you again. We stare at your photos in disbelief. Your beautiful smiling face. That is all we will ever have. Memories, keepsakes and photos.

We were prepared to help you move in your first house in the next few months and leave us empty nesters. Never did we imagine the emptiness that we now face. We expected to visit your house, not a gravesite. As we sat and cried at your resting place today we were comforted by the love of a friend who stopped to hug and pray with us. A friend who has also suffered and mourns for her dear son. Through so much pain and sadness God has sent so many, who are also hurting, to grieve with us and encourage us. Family, friends and strangers have loved and cared for us and each of them help carry our grief because we couldn’t bare it alone. Part of our heart is missing but we know Pierce is with our Heavenly Father and we will be together again. 🙏🏼🙏🏼❤️

John 3:16

Your Mom❤️

We Miss You, Pierce💔

Today, we miss you, Pierce. Yesterday we missed you. And tomorrow, we will miss you.

It’s hard to know when the “missing” will hit us. It’s a lot like having a chair pulled out from under you. You go back to sit in the chair and sometimes, it is there. You feel supported and you can get through your day. Other times, you go back to sit in that same chair, and it’s not there and you fall.

I have these moments of “missing” you in the strangest places, Pierce. I remember one time in particular. It was a few days after your funeral and I was at Panda Express, of all places, with my husband, Tim. I went to fill my cup with tea and noticed that the person in front of me hadn’t shut the tea urn off correctly and it was dripping. I went to try and fix it and then, the spigot came off in my hand and tea was just gushing out and all over the floor. A man I don’t know saw me struggling and my husband tried to help, and I don’t know why, but as that tea was pouring out all over the floor and I couldn’t get it to stop, I started crying uncontrollably.

I get teary eyed at the gym. Tim and I had finally decided to start going and signed up for a membership before Christmas because you had inspired us to go. It doesn’t help that there are TVs everywhere in there, broadcasting to others what may just seem like “news”, but for our family, is a fight for justice and to make things right, somehow.

Then last night, at another Asian restaurant, this time, Wasabi’s. Maybe I should just stay away from fried rice, I joke with myself. Even though I know that’s not why I’m sad.

Almost everyone there was celebrating a birthday. The cooks were flinging rice at our faces;I didn’t catch it in my mouth when my turn came around;I’ve never been coordinated and I honestly wasn’t trying. It was just…sad. All the banging of spatulas and flashes of fire and people celebrating when…you will never have another birthday, Pierce. We will probably still celebrate it. I hope we do…but it won’t be the same without you.

It doesn’t seem fair that this is our new “normal”. “Normal” might be pretty close to what most people call normal some days. Other days, it might be pushing through a crowd and hyperventilating in a bathroom stall alone. Sometimes, it might be leaving somewhere early because I just can’t be there right now. “Normal” might look like that for a while.

We love you and miss you, Pierce. We miss your smile, the words you would say, you just being here with us.

Your Sister,


Honoring Pierce in Washington DC

On the morning of Tuesday, January 15th, we stood outside The Capitol Building in Washington DC. It was cold and snow was still on the ground. To say that it was surreal to be in our nation’s capital, surrounded by Congress men and women, talking about the issues and sharing Pierce’s story, barely two weeks after his passing, is an understatement.

Several people have asked me to post the written version of what I said in the Capital Hill Triangle that day. I wrote this Sunday night before we left for Washington, into the early hours of Monday morning.

Today, I stand before you…wearing black. I am in mourning, not only for the death of my 22 year old brother, Pierce Kennedy Corcoran, but for the sorry state of affairs in which our country finds itself in today.

Our government has been shut down for 25 days, beating all previous records. I cannot help but find myself thinking in numbers. 25 is an age my brother will never see. 14 is the amount of years the illegal alien, who swerved into oncoming traffic, killing my brother, has spent living illegally in our country.

This is my baby brother, Pierce. He is not “manufactured”, fabricated or made up. My family loved him so much. All of the angel families you see here today are here to speak up. We have now become the voices for fathers, mothers, sons and daughters. We speak for those who can no longer speak for themselves.

If my brother was here today, he would tell you that, despite being from Tennessee, he loved the Texas Longhorns. He would tell you that he was a sports fanatic. Pierce was always humble and he wouldn’t tell you this, but he was a hard worker, working 40+ hours a week, on top of working towards a personal trainer certification and saving up for a house and a future. His girlfriend, Jade, was a part of that future, and he had bought her a ring.

If Pierce was here today, he would also tell you that our parents instilled certain values in their three children. One of those values is personal responsibility. Francisco Eduardo Franco Cambrany did not exhibit personal responsibility on the night of December 29th, when he crashed head on into Pierce’s car, nor did he exemplify it when he crossed our country’s border 14 years ago. He was in our country, illegally, driving a car without a license or insurance.

Whereas most people would be receiving condolences at the loss of a loved one, my family has also had to deal with comments like the following: “Anyone could have been driving the other car that killed Pierce. He could have just as easily been killed by an American citizen.”

And yet, he wasn’t.

Those aren’t just my facts, those are the facts. You don’t have to like them. I certainly don’t.

While everyone else is content to live in hypotheticals or file their nails in indifference, my family is living in reality and dealing with those facts every day.

Our nation is in crisis. We have received countless messages from families just like ours who have lost loved ones to car crashes, criminal homicides and other violent crimes, at the hands of undocumented people. Sadly, in most cases, time is not served, they are repeat offenders, or they slip away into the shadows, never apprehended by law enforcement or ICE.

A crisis is defined as a time of intense difficulty, but it is also defined as a time when a difficult or important decision must be made.

How can it be denied that we are in a crisis?

Here, in America, we find ourselves at a crossroads, where compromise is sorely needed from both sides. The clock is ticking and the huddled masses within our own borders need and deserve answers. Abraham Lincoln once famously said, “A house divided cannot stand.”

We, the American people, need protection. On that point, we cannot compromise. I want to leave you with these words: My actions still matter.

These are the words I found in a journal on the dash of my baby brother’s crumpled, destroyed car, the pages riddled with shards of glass.

My actions still matter.

To the members of Congress and our President, I want to say your actions still matter. This is not an issue of race, this is an issue of right and wrong.

After sharing Pierce’s story, we got to speak to so many members of Congress who had come down, just to listen to us and other angel families speak. Louie Gohmert, from Texas. Mo Brooks, from Alabama. Tim Burchett, our own representative from Knoxville and so many more.

We also got to meet with Marsha Blackburn, a representative for the state of Tennessee. We are so glad that so many took the time to listen to us and our concerns. Our biggest concern is, obviously, about the border and the overall safety of this country, but we also have other concerns that reside more on the local level, like fixing Chapman Highway, a road that has seen too many fatalities.

We are just getting started. I think Pierce is still watching over us as we tackle some of these things.

This picture is from a trip we took to DC in the summer of August 2001, right before 9/11. I am so glad we got to go as a family…Connor and Pierce and I enjoyed going to a lot of museums and meeting then Congressman, Jimmy Duncan.

What’s ironic about that trip is that we had visited the J. Edgar Hoover FBI Museum. On the list of “Top 10 Most Wanted” was a man named Osama Bin Ladin, whom we had never heard of. Just a month later, everyone in our country would know his name.

Thinking back on that, I can see that we have made major advancements to our personal safety and security in our country since 2001, but still more needs to be done.

I hope that Congress can come together with our president to make real changes. There is so much at stake with this shutdown: paychecks, of course, but also, people’s lives.