In 2008, the year that changed my life forever, I was 23 years old and worked at a gas station while going to college and figuring out my future. When I went to bed on Monday, October 6th, my biggest concern was that I was up way too late and knew that my 6 AM shift would come early.
That day was another typical workday until my boss asked me to talk in a storage closet the size of an office. I was unsure why he chose that room, but it began to make sense behind the closed door. My boss looked at me and said that my mom had called.
"It is about your dad."
I replied, "what do you mean?"
My boss then told me that he was found shot to death at his house.
I remember having a very vivid image of him in my mind, sitting in his favorite recliner dead but looking as if he was asleep in peace. Then I fell into a mess of tears and confusion.
Here I thought I was getting a promotion, but finding out that my father had been murdered?
How? Didn't that only happen on TV? It didn't make sense. I couldn't comprehend that he had been shot multiple times on a road in the middle of a safe neighborhood.
I went outside to call my mom, expecting her to say, "No that is not what happened." But that was not the case. Instead, we just cried and tried to understand how something like this could happen.
I eventually gathered myself and drove home.
I spent the next several days packing my father's home, calling family members to break the news, listening to detectives describe his lifestyle, and wondering how 48 hours could go by with a murderer still at large.
That entire time is a blur but still crystal clear in my memory.
I remember family coming to say goodbye while he lay in the morgue in a hospital gown. I remember the realization that funerals cost money. I'd never thought of that before. I remember wondering how one person's actions could impact the lives of others forever. I remember the pain, the tears, and the shock. I remember the feeling of my throat closing up every time we talked about Dad. I remember the confusion and frustration of trying to understand how something like this could happen. I also remember feeling like no one understood or was as committed as I was in solving my father's murder.
This single event changed my life forever.
It was the catalyst for me wanting to learn everything I could about criminal justice and victim advocacy. I landed a volunteer position as a victim's advocate and restorative justice group facilitator within Northeast Florida prisons. I had the opportunity to tell my story. I also heard the accounts of those accused and convicted of crimes similar to what my family experienced.
Each experience led me further down a path that would eventually bring me to my career in mental health counseling. It also led to the launch of Healing Roots as a place for others like me: a place where victims' families can grieve and find wholeness.
Today, I am thankful for my perspective and experience. I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity to help others through the devastating and traumatic loss of a loved one through homicide.
Every case and story is unique, but my motivation for helping remains constant. Each story deserves to be heard. Every grieving parent, child, and sibling deserves a safe space to ask the tough questions, face the challenging answers, and find wholeness.
Healing Roots is a place of grace, compassion, and restoration. We are here to help you tell your story.
Founder and Counselor
Healing Roots: Where Hope is Found Inc