Paisley Winbottom here. I'm the girl whose father was killed at church. I will be twelve years old next week.
If you think I have moved on, I haven't, no, not really. Some days I think I am doing pretty good; then I hear church music or see a church, any church, and the memories come rushing back like on ongoing nightmare. I still see the image of my father slumped against mom's shoulder, blood staining his back and shoulder, and hear the gunman cursing Jesus and the shots of his gun ringing through the air, and I turn cold all over again as sweat pops out on my body.
I know Gavin, my older brother, as well as my mom, don't like to talk about it. In fact, they have both refused to say dad's name, and they are constantly depressed or angry (oftentimes both). Dougie, my littlest brother, doesn't care: he's got special needs; he doesn't know what's going on around him half the time; it's like he's zoned out in his own little (special) world. I try to get them to talk about dad; all I get is snapped at and told to mind my own business.
I am trying to come to grips with what's happened to me and my family. We are all undergoing counseling; it doesn't seem to be doing one bit of good. Well, maybe for me, but definitely not for mom or Gavin. They're as bitter and miserable as they've always been, ever since this happened.
I have my aunt take me to dad's grave. We go every week. While there, I talk to dad as though he were alive: I tell him what's going on with school, the family, etc. I tell him how much I miss him, and I wish that he had never been murdered. I tell him I wish we could go back to our old life, the one where everybody was happy and carefree. Often I cry as I struggle with conflicting feelings that roam around.
I still don't go to church because to me church means bad memories. It's where my life as I knew it was changed forever. I am starting to believe in God again, but I am still struggling to understand as to how and why He could let something so terrible happen. If He is such a loving God as preachers say He is, then why would He take my father away??
I do pray to God nearly every night, when I go to bed, but it's an ongoing process. I often stop in the middle of the prayer and turn angry; then I try again until I get my prayer requests out in the open. I do, however, believe in Him again, so that is a huge step in the right direction.
I don't tell mom or Gavin this: they don't want to have anything to do with God and/or "religion". I don't blame them one bit. Yet I felt lost without God, so I started communicating with Him again. Except I do it in secret, like when they're not around or when I close my eyes at night.
I am also writing in this journal, as a means of therapy, to help me sort out my feelings of confusion. I know I still struggle with periods of anger and unforgiveness myself (who wouldn't in such a situation?), but God is working with me on that. I know in time He will take away the tears and I can look back on this experience and move on. While I may never "get over it" completely or forget (which I shouldn't), I can face whatever life throws my way with His help. I am learning to rely on Him and trust in Him completely, even during my worst days.
Well, I have to get Dougie up and get him ready for school. (Gavin's already gone to his school.) I will write in here again soon; until later, this is Paisley Winbottom saying so long! Take care!
~Paisley Grace, aged 12 (almost!). :)
P.S.: I'm learning to smile again, though that is coming very slowly.