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December 3rd

It was December 3rd and the day was just beginning. I was at Dallas Baptist University, getting ready for the day and made my way to class. Shortly after, I got my things together and went to a local coffee shop nearby to do some work. Hours passed by, and as I begin to leave, I looked down to read a text from my Pastor. After ignoring all of my texts above, he simply questioned, "Are you at home or DBU?" I thought it was odd, and sudden, yet I responded and waited for a reply. Minutes went by, and I hadn't heard back.

There were a few errands I needed to run, and despite the lack of response, I didn't think much of it. I went on my way until about an hour later I received a text from my Mom; to which she asked, "where are you?" I knew by now, something was going on. I made my way back to my car and immediately called. She didn't have much to say, but behind a very forced & calm tone of voice, she responded by saying she had a priority, that I needed to get back to campus. So there I went, I raced home, and as anxious tears ran down my face, after every wrong turn, and all the traffic in the world. I found my way back. Moments later, my Mom began to call.

I picked up the phone angrily and asked what was going on. She very softly said, "Your dad was in an accident today at work." Unfortunately, this wasn't the first time I heard this with him being in the Law Enforcement. I asked where he was, and if he was ok, and there were the words...

"He's not here anymore."

I remember the instant pain that flooded every part of my body. How was this happening?

I screamed, and sobbed, and begged and went weak. This was just the beginning.

I went inside to pack a bag, my Pastor and his wife were on their way to come get me from DBU to bring me home. After they arrived, I walked down the stairs, and into their arms. It was the worst day of my life. As we made the journey back home, I came across an article. At the time, I really had no idea how my Dad had passed. It wasn't a question I had asked when I got the phone call, until I did. I read that my father had been shot 3 times by a man named Jamie Jaramillo. I dropped the phone, and lost it. My Dad had been shot and killed.

We finally made it home, and without the car even being stopped, I swung open the door and began to run to my Mom. I was so weak, I just fell into her arms. As we got inside, I remember pacing by the front door with tear-filled eyes, asking "Where is he? Where is he? Where is he?"

I found myself on the floor, seconds later. Body numb, tears falling, limbs gone limp. This was the worst day of my life. Hours had gone by, and we found ourselves on the front porch, gathered around, somehow finding words, cracking a smile here and there. There would be no sleep that night, nor the ones to follow.

The following week was a whirlwind of things to do and prepare for. I never thought I'd be preparing to speak at my father's funeral, at only 18 years old. But there I was.

I didn't 'feel' much that week. It's almost as if I was sleepwalking. It was like a bad dream that I was waiting to wake up from. I never did. Sometimes, I still feel that way. Maybe this wasn't real? Maybe he is coming back? Maybe I don't have to say goodbye? Yet I am faced with the reality that my Dad really is with Jesus. This is real life. Over the course of the past 5 months, I have seen the hand of Jesus all over my life. He has simply gone before me, with me, behind me, and beside me all the days of my life. Especially on December 3rd.

In my eulogy, I addressed the man who shot my father. Jamie Jaramillo. After killing my father, he proceeded to take his own life, in which he was unsuccessful. I remember feeling relieved when we got the news he was in stable condition. It was an odd feeling, why didn't I want him dead?

I remembered all the years prior to this. The heaviness my heart felt for men and women like Jamie. I wept at the death penalty, and all the stories because of things like this. How did it get this way? I knew from the very beginning that I had a decision to make. I could choose to live a life of unforgiveness and hate, or I could choose to free myself of it - I didn't have to live that way. And so I did. Jamie was going to be a part of my story whether I liked it or not. I publicly shared that my prayer would be to speak to Jamie one day down the road. Not to scream or yell at him. Just to tell him about Jesus. The Lord has actually prepared me all along.

Months removed, I still feel the same. Knowing more about Jamie and his life, has not changed a thing. Months into grief, I still feel passionately about Jamie coming to know Jesus. It's possible. But ultimately, I recognize it's not up to me. Completely up to Jesus. Yet I know He's faithful to keep his promises. Faithful to turn it all for good. My prayer still stands. I believe my God is able.

Home feels empty. It's painfully quiet, and my heart breaks a little more each night he doesn't come home. Life is so lonely without him. There have been tear-filled days, ones that keep me in bed. However, there have been days of hope, ones that allow me to share my story and my heart. In the good, bad & the in between, I have found Jesus to be near, giving me just enough to wake up, to make it another day. What He starts, He's faithful to finish.

It seems like forever since I last heard his voice, felt a hug, exchanged a laugh. Time seems to fly and crawl, all at the same time. But from a suffering heart - to a faithful Father, He has been so good. Trust Him friends, I promise it's worth it.

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