Last year, when making preparations for Easter Sunday, Gloria Short bought a pink and green church dress for her 10-year-old granddaughter, Gianna.
And then, as was her custom, she cooked a scrumptious meal for her family.
“The dinner part was what she did every Easter,” said her daughter, Shameika Averett, while reflecting on the holiday spent with her loved ones a year ago. “It was almost like the New Year’s dinner where you make the black eyed peas and the collard greens. My mother was very traditional in that way, and she was an excellent cook. So we spent a lot of holidays at Mom’s because that’s where we ate.”
But this Easter will be different as Averett and other family members grapple with the deaths of Short, 54; Averett’s daughter, Gianna Lindsey; and Short’s 17-year-old son, Caleb, also Averett’s brother. The three were brutally murdered in Short’s Upatoi home on Jan. 4 in a triple homicide that rocked the Columbus community. Short’s husband, Robert Short Jr., discovered the bodies early that morning after working a late-night nursing shift at Northside Hospital.
Three teenagers — Jervarceay Tapley, 17, Raheam Gibson, 19, and Rufus Lanard Burks, 15 — have been arrested in connection with the deaths. Each has been charged with three counts of murder, two counts of auto theft and one count each of burglary and using a knife to commit a crime.
Tapley was a family friend who lived with Gloria Short’s brother, Robert Averett, who died of a heart attack Jan. 6 after hearing of his sister’s homicide.
Short’s husband, Robert Short, is now living in Albany, Ga., with his daughter, Lindsey Roberson, Averett said, and the family will gather there for Easter, making the best of the circumstances.
“We’re trying to focus on the newness of it because it’s so new,” she explained. “If we focus on how different it is, we won’t be able to enjoy the wonderful, wonderful holiday that Easter is. It’s one of the most significant holidays — especially for us in the phase of life that we’re in — to remember that Jesus died and he rose again. It reminds us that he is living. And this Easter is an opportunity to reflect on how good God is, on how his mercy endures forever, even through this horrible tragedy.”
Averett said the Easter story of Christ’s resurrection gives her a “ton of hope,” and she uses her experience to encourage others on Facebook, using the hashtag “StayAtTheThankYou.”
“Staying at the thank you is remembering that no matter what you deal with, what you go through, stay at the thank you, stay at the cross, still believe that God is good, and thank him anyway, despite what could happen, despite what could go on in your life,” she said, “because we don’t know what tomorrow is going to bring. But if you stay at the thank you, that will bring you hope and it will encourage you for the upcoming battles that you might face.”
Source: Ledger-Enquirer | ALVA JAMES-JOHNSON