BRPD Baton Rouge police crime

Advocate file photo by Hilary Scheinuk 

“ ... 2 yrs ago when I buried my child I thought it was over for me. Never did I think I'd get my Happy back. But God kept whispering his promises to me. Lord knows this road is rough sometimes I'm not sure if I'm coming or going but I'm here, Happy and walking in my Overflow!”

This recent entry on Facebook caught me off guard the other day because it was April Guillory that posted it. I wrote a column about her more than a year ago when she was in the throes of emotional turmoil months after the murder of her 21-year-old son, Justin. He was shot to death by another young man after a basketball game at a Baton Rouge recreation center.

His alleged killer has been arrested, but no trial has occurred.

This was April’s entry from 2016, not long after burying her son: “What I wouldn’t give to see this face again! Lord, how can two months feel like 1,000 years and also like yesterday all at the same time? I miss you, son! Please continue to pray for my family and I because I know for me I can’t seem to get it together. How can I go on is the question? I know the word of God, and I believe in him. I love all the inspirational messages I receive from family and friends but still I feel lost! Lord, I want my baby back!!!! Please Pray for me!”

I’ve known April, her children and her parents for a long time. She is a friend of my daughter. She was in my daughter’s wedding. The murder of her son devastated a lot of people. Her son and my grandson were friends.

The April I knew, loud and cheerful, had become sullen and indifferent.

Her sorrow is shared by so many relatives and loved ones who are dealing with the record number of senseless deaths piling up in Baton Rouge this year. The painful aftermath that April and others deal with is what so many of us never witness. The families suffer away from the cameras and the headlines.

For April, the pain got so bad “that I was praying sometimes that I wouldn’t open my eyes the next morning.”

When I called her, after seeing her recent post, April said she is ready to live again. It has taken a lot of baby steps, lots of medication, received prayers and a lot of support from family and friends.

April moved her children back to her hometown of Lake Charles where she is a supervisor at a hospital. “I lived in Lake Charles for 21 years,” she noted. “I lived in Baton Rouge for 21 years and Justin was 21 when he was killed. Isn’t that something?”

Lake Charles was a good idea, “because I don’t get the sympathetic looks I would get in Baton Rouge,” she said. “I had enough of that. I just had to get a change of scenery.”

That change of scenery has also brought a new man in her life. “He just came out of nowhere,” she said. “He is one of the sweetest guys I’ve ever met.”

Her youngest child, Lindan, is doing well in school and playing on his eighth-grade basketball team. “He’s maturing a lot,” she said.

She says her daughter, Maisyn, is a member of three honor societies and on the dean’s list at Northwestern State University in Natchitoches. “That girl has really done it,” she said. “She amazes me every day. She is struggling too ... She is always focused. ... She is on a mission.”

About her son’s killer, “I don’t give that guy no thought. ... At the end of the day, I miss my child. Whatever happens to him, that’s what he’ll get. I pray and ask God to mend me. ... I’m never going to reach out to him. I bear no evil feeling for him. I just love my son.”

April said she decided to make the “happy” post because “I’d like to give people inspiration. If I can go through everything that I’ve gone through and come out with something positive, they can, too.”

She has rid herself of almost all of the medication she was taking during her emotional recovery. “I needed them,” she said, because she also had to deal with the deaths of her grandmother and “favorite” cousin.

April also gave up grief counseling, saying she had to move on.

Her family, she said, is now trying to make her son proud of them. “We love each other more. We know that every second counts. We live everyday like it’s our last.

“I’m just ready for whatever the future has for me. I’m speaking things into existence and moving closer to God.

“I’m not over it. I’ll never be over it, but I can still breathe. I can still cry. I miss my son,” she said. “I want to live happy and not be so sad. My baby wouldn’t want me to.”

We’re with you, April.

Email Edward Pratt, a former newspaperman who writes a weekly Advocate column, at epratt1972@gmail.com.