Monday marks the one-year anniversary of the Waffle House mass shooting. 22-year-old survivor Tia Waggoner shared with News 2 what her life has been like since the tragedy.
Waggoner now spends most of her days confined to her bed.
“I have to have help and that weighs on me a lot because I was so independent before this,” said Waggoner. “Now I have to have help with almost everything that I do.”
Waggoner has had ten surgeries over the last year because of the damage that was caused when a bullet ripped through her right shin on April 22, 2018.
“We had literally ordered. We sat down and that’s when the shots happened,” said Waggoner. “My leg…it had completely…it’s kind of hard to talk about. It had completely came off. I was looking at my foot was there but it wasn’t attached to me where it should have been.”
She wears a device around the clock that will hopefully help her grow enough bone for her to walk again.
However, she grapples with more than just physical pain. Her 23-year-old boyfriend, Akilah DaSilva, was killed in the shooting.
“Me getting shot wasn’t even that bad. It was me realizing that he was,” Waggoner said. “I just kept saying ‘I love you, I love you, I love you.’ That’s the last thing I said to him.”
The fact Waggoner survived makes her feel conflicted.
“I do feel grateful that I survived but on the other hand I have a lot of survivor’s guilt,” she said. “I think why did I live and he die? It’s hard to cope. It’s hard to try and be happy because I feel like I shouldn’t be because he’s not here.”
Waggoner often thinks about the things she used to be able to do and then, reflects on her life now.
“I used to work and spend time with my boyfriend,” she said. “Now I suffer from PTSD, depression, anxiety. Those are all things I never had before until now.”
Although she is traumatized for life, she tries to be hopeful.
However, she isn’t sure if she’ll be able to plan for the future with someone else now that DaSilva is gone.
“Everyone thinks when you’re with that person that you’re gonna have kids and have a house and I never thought for one second that something like this would happen,” said Waggoner. “I couldn’t protect him that night so if I ever got with someone else I would have that fear that if something happened that I couldn’t…I wouldn’t be able to help them.”
There is a vigil for her boyfriend and the three other Waffle House mass shooting victims at 6:00 p.m. Monday at the Southeast Community Center in Antioch. All are welcome; organizers urge participants to wear baby blue.