Monday, April 18, 2011

My brothers murder story

I have been way too busy to do anything and I hate when life gets in the way of my crafts! As some of you know I do vounteer work with a program called Bridges to Life. Well I was doing two projects this time and it doesnt sound like much but emotionally it can be draining. However, I am so thankful I did it. This program gives me a chance to share my brothers life with others and hopefully keep others from doing what his killer did. A little background.. My brother was 19 years old in 1995 and I was 22. I had already been married for almost 6 years and had my two children. One night my brother called me and wanted to get together but it was kinda late and I was dealing with getting kids to bed (sunday night school night). We planned on meeting up the next weekend and spending time together then. My brother worked as a security guard for a small security company. We later found out this company was not legal and please know that most of these companies are not legit. We ended up forcing this one to close in the end. I am glad we had that call. Later that night the phone rings again and its my mom saying I am needed at the hospital and I need to hurry. In my mind it had to be something with my grandfather nothing bad happens in my family that stuff is only on tv right? Well when I arrived at the hospital I found out my brother had been shot. To keep this short and to the point I will say that he lived for 21 days. Those days were joyus at some points and painful at others. My brother was called in to work and had arrived in a parking lot of a store and a large crowd had gathered and they were trying to get the crowd to move along when someone fired shots into the crowd. My brother was the only one that was hit and I am thankful for that. I am leaving so much out :) Just trying to be brief. If you read this and have questions please feel free to ask. I spent most of my time with him on those days. It was very difficult sometimes to see the things they were doing. Finally his body just couldnt take it anymore and it gave out. I dont remember much about the next week or so. It was all a blur and I wish I could tell you more about the service and such but my mind just couldnt do it. Well once that happened I decided that I had to meet the killer one day! I wanted him to KNOW what kind of man my brother was and what he meant to me and to others! I had to live with those memories that at one time brought joy to me and now only brought sadness. The man that shot him was picked up pretty quickly and did a deal with the DA. He was sentenced to 15 years. Not very long huh? Let me tell you it goes by very fast for the victim. In 2004 he came up for parole and I knew if I was ever going to meet him I had to do it now. So I found a program called Victim offender mediation dialouge. Long story short they give you counselor times and even for the offender. The offender must agree to this meeting which I was worried mine would not but Thank God he did. So in Jan I spent 8 hours with the man that killed my brother. We laughed we cried and I made peace with happened. I have forgiven him. I can forgive him but I cant forgive his action. Hope that makes sense? Anyway, when it was over I hugged him and wished him well. On the way out of the prison I was speaking with my mediator about how beautiful that was. She then suggested I try Bridges to Life. Bridges to life takes victims into prison to show offenders what crimes do to people. We make them face a victim that could have been their victim (meeting your own is only allowed with the mediation program). We show them how the family of victim's feel and the things that happen to them because of this. Its an amazing program and it has helped me heal in ways I cant explain! We spend 14 weeks with these offenders one night a week for 3 hours. The first 30 minutes we are all together and we hear a victim story. Once that is done we break into smaller groups. Usually 10 inmates to 2-3 volunteers. We have a lesson for the night such as forgivness, reconciliation, accountability etc. So we go over our lesson and then talk about the victim of the week. Then someone in the small group tells his/her story. Its amazing what they tell us once they start trusting us. Not to mention the things that they start to see. Once the ice is broken and I cant explain when or how that happens it just does. Maybe its because each volunteer shares so openly their stories. I know its hard to imagine getting attached to inmates but you do. Once they open up and you hear their life and what its like. The healing that takes place is truely a work of God! I have a story I will do later about what happened when I spoke and a man stood up and confessed he was also in the parking lot with my brother. I will save that for next time:) I have been involved with Bridges to Life now for 7 years and its the most amazing experience ever!!! I wish everyone could do it and its sure not easy to do but its so worth it!! I am NO LONGER A VICTIM!!!!!! I use my story to change lives and YES I KNOW IT DOES :) Here is the link to the program! If you have any questions all you need to do is ask! I am open and LOVE to share. Here is the link to the program Bridges to life Much love to you all :)

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