In May 2018, Falone woke to screaming and gunshots. She followed the commotion outside, where she saw a body on the ground. It took her a second to realize it was her brother, Marcus. Her mother was frozen in the doorway, crying, hugging Falone’s niece and nephew. “So much of the day is a blur,” Falone shared, “it changed everything for my family.”
That day, Marcus died. The whole family was wracked with grief, especially when the murder remained an open case with the police. “A lot of my family wanted to take [revenge] into their own hands – some days, they still talk about it.”
During this difficult period, Falone felt angry with God and wanted to isolate, but she still came around City Life KIX. Her KIX leaders gave her space to be angry and sad, but also encouraged her to attend Wellspring Counseling’s Bounce! Camp, a week-long therapy program for youth dealing with trauma.
“I only went to Bounce! Camp to be a good example to my cousins,” Falone says. But she remembers how the Christian staff shared difficulties in their own lives. They taught her ways to let out her emotions – like throwing fruit against a wall – and introduced her to the worship song, “Reckless Love.” In the end, the camp was a major step toward healing.
Later that summer, KIX staff convinced Falone to attend YFC Camp. During a time of worship, the song “Reckless Love” played. The City Life Director, Stacy, approached Falone and whispered in her ear. “The words she was saying were God talking to me,” Falone explained.
Even though camp didn’t fix or change Falone’s problems, it was a moment when she remembers realizing that her KIX family was always there for her. That support would continue to be important, even after she graduated and went to Florida State University on a full-ride scholarship.
At FSU, Falone still carried a lot of anger in her heart; she was trying to manage on her own. A friend invited her to attend a Christian worship service. That night, “Reckless Love” was played again. “I held back tears the whole service,” Falone says, “but when I got back to my room, I put on the song again and just let it all out. I told God that I didn’t want to handle things on my own. And at that moment, I felt God telling me that I didn’t have to handle it anymore. I gave everything to God, and things really changed.”
Now, when Falone faces hard days, she knows she can turn to God and people, like her KIX family, who love and care for her. “At FSU, I’m studying social work, and I think I could run a program like KIX or Bounce, where kids can get help,” Falone says. She knows Marcus’ death will always be a defining part of her life – but with God, the ashes of gun smoke can turn into a beautiful, new story.