MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A mother says the last year has been unbearable after her son and his fiancé were murdered. But she’s coping, through something she’s never done before.
On July 23, 2020, Toya Taylor’s son Demetrice Driver Jr. and his fiancé were found shot to death in their Whitehaven apartment, leaving behind their newborn and two other children. Their murders are still unsolved.
“It’s the worst feeling I’ve ever had,” Taylor said. “It’s a feeling that I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy, because losing a child, that’s a part of you.”
Taylor says that emptiness doesn’t fade. “Some days I’m sad. Some days I have uncontrollable crying out of nowhere,” she said.
She still can’t drive past her son’s old neighborhood, and certain noises make her tremble.
“We hear gun shots on a daily basis. It’s almost the norm. Each time I hear gunshots, it makes me want to grab my phone and check on my other two kids,” she said.
Her kids became more and more concerned about her.
“My daughter came over one day and saw me in a really dark place and she was like, ‘Momma why don’t you start back writing because it helps with your depression?'”
So Taylor grabbed a pen and put her feelings onto paper.
“I used to write as a teenager but then, when I dealt with depression in the past, I wrote poetry,” she said. “It takes my mind away from what I’m currently experiencing and currently going through.”
In a matter of weeks, Taylor said for the first time, she wrote a play. Then in a matter of weeks, she booked a spot at the Halloran Centre in downtown Memphis. It’s set to debut at the end of the month.
“Mentally I’m not where I would like to be, but I’m a whole lot better than where I was a year ago,” Taylor said.
Demetrice would have been 25 years old on August 6. The family spent the day at his grave.
“I was thinking of all the things a 25 year old would like to do at that milestone birthday,” she said.
But his life was cut short. Sadly, it’s a story told far too many times, as this year’s murder rate in Memphis is on track — yet again — to set a record.
Taylor says when she sees yellow tape and blue lights, she has flashbacks. She thinks about the pain the loved ones are facing, what they will go through.
She tells them to reach out to a prayer group or support group. “Something that allows you to cry. For a long time, I didn’t want to cry. I felt crying would make me weak. I kept holding on and holding on.”
Now, she’s finally letting her feelings be heard and the healing is only beginning.
“A tragedy doesn’t mean the end. We have to find a way to live through,” Taylor said.
Police say they are still need information about her son’s murder. If you know anything, call Crime Stoppers at 528-CASH.