This I Believe

Vernice - Los Angeles, California
Entered on June 24, 2007
Age Group: Under 18
Themes: family, setbacks

My extended family was always close. We had family gatherings and sent each other Christmas cards with special greetings. I always thought of my family as a happy family – one that would never fall apart or go against each other. After the night of the shooting, my family started to disintegrate.

It was the week before Mother’s Day, three years ago, when I woke up in the morning to find my mom on the phone, watching the morning news. It was an odd sight since my mom hardly ever watches the news in the morning, so I speculated that something bad had happened. I suddenly heard her say, “They’re going to show it soon,” to whomever she was talking to. A few minutes later, a reporter came on and talked about a deadly shooting the night before. I was shocked when the reporter said who the shooter was— it was my uncle.

My parents constantly talked about the incident and who was to blame. I heard them blame my aunt because she had cheated on my uncle, causing him to spiral into a frenzy of late-night drinking and continuous trouble. My aunt and uncle were separated and filing for a divorce when my uncle shot my aunt’s new boyfriend. After a while, my family began to take sides and, unfortunately, the side most of them chose was to be against my aunt. They blamed her for everything – for my uncle’s actions, for getting her children taken away, for causing my grandma a great deal of stress, for everything. My uncle’s crime and my aunt’s infidelity were tearing my whole family apart.

This ongoing blame game continued until one Sunday morning when my family went to church, the theme of the sermon was forgiveness. The priest said that everyone must be able to forgive, no matter how bad the situation is. After mass, my mom apologized to my aunt for blaming her. My whole family decided to apologize to my aunt and forgive my uncle for his crime. They tried to understand why my uncle did what he did— he did it for love.

My extended family is currently repairing itself. We’ve started to hold family gatherings again while trying to forget about the past. We’re recovering from the incident that occurred three years ago. My uncle is currently in state prison, but my family visits him a couple of times a month to let him know that we love him, despite his current state. I believe in love and forgiveness, but most of all, I believe in family. After everything we’ve been through, in the end, my family stayed together. My family isn’t perfect, but we love one another, no matter what happens.