Raising two boys by herself wasn’t easy for Lisa Miller. She worked two jobs just to get by, relied on family to help teach important lessons on how to be men, and struggled on more then one occasion just to pick her and her boys up along the way.
It indeed was difficult, but it isn’t something Lisa would trade, because she became closer to her boys, who did in fact eventually become men. She feels she and they had a love for one another tougher and more strong because of those times. Only now that love is the toughest of all for Lisa, since losing one of her sons to a violent crime.
“People ask me how I’m doing,” said Lisa. “I really don’t know how to answer them, because I really don’t know myself.”
Lisa’s oldest son Patrick Gilbert, or PJ, as most knew him, was shot dead on a Sunday this past July in Russellville at just 29-years-old. No one knows at this time why he was killed. Of course there is speculation in the streets, but none of it seems to point at anything but a heinous crime against a innocent man. A target to someone who didn’t care about the value of life or that he took someone who struggled with his mother and brother to come out on the other side.
An arrest has been made in the murder of PJ, but that doesn’t bring Lisa’s boy back to her. She admits she wants to see justice for her son’s murder, but says it won’t bring him back.
“I pray for the man who killed my son,” said Lisa. “I pray for his family and I pray for his mother.”
Praying is the only thing that Lisa can do now. She says she relies on God number one and her husband Johnny to get her through the tough times. But it is her youngest son Quinton she is worried most about now. “He is taking his brother’s death very hard,” said Lisa. “He was his best friend. They went fishing together and did a lot together. I worry about him more than normal now because he is so hurt.”
Lisa says her son PJ had a tough time growing up. He wasn’t perfect, but worked to becoming a great man. The boy who loved to play sports and be involved in the community, started hanging out with the wrong crowd when reaching his teen years. He even ended up spending time in prison for petty crimes involving guns. But one thing that never changed was his heart, said his mom.
“I know I am his mother, and some may say I am bias, but PJ always had a really big heart,” said Miller. “He went through a tough time in his youth, but he came out of it a stronger more faithful young man.
PJ never met a stranger said his mother. He would always ask anyone if there was anything he could do for them. He had a pure heart and his character was something. “He made me proud to be his mother,” said Lisa.
One of the things that is keeping Lisa going is PJ’s unborn child. Before he was murdered, he was to become a father for the first time.
“I am going to do everything I can for his son,” said Lisa, who is moving back to Logan County from Elizabethtown where she lived before PJ was killed. “I want to be a part of this child’s life and teach him about his father.”
Lisa said PJ would constantly sing a song by Michael W. Smith and for some reason after she laid her son to rest, that song kept popping into her head. The song is “Above All.” One of the lyrics to the song says:
Laid behind the stone
You lived to die
Rejected and alone
Like a rose trampled on the ground
You took the fall
And thought of me
“My family is still trying to come to the realization that he is gone,” said Lisa. “Our hearts are heavy but we need to bring about good if we can from something so bad.
Lisa says our community is hurting. There is so much division among us and life for some means nothing.
“I cannot change what happened to my son. No parent should have to bury their child, especially from a senseless death as this. But I plea to the community as a whole to wake up and say enough is enough. We have to teach good morals, good character and the importance of how you treat others. Anger and violence are not the answers. God wants us to love one another and encourage one another.”
Miller says it’s not a black or white thing, it’s not a status thing, it’s all our thing.
To the person who killed my her son… she prays for him as well.
“I don’t hate him. I do forgive him. But I don’t pity him,” said Lisa. “We all make choices in this world and we have to live with them.” This is why, added Lisa, we need to think about our choices before they change a life forever.
To contact Chris Cooper, email [email protected] or call 270-726-8394.