JUPITER (CBS4) – From a dark tragedy springs new hope as the memory of a child lost to violence is now helping children in need.
“This house used to be a home, you know, it used to be full of little girl giggles and now it’s just silent,” said Jim Sitton.READ MORE: Global Chip Shortage Could Soon Put Squeeze On South Florida Car Dealerships
On Thanksgiving night, 2009, Jim and his wife Muriel tucked their 6-year old daughter Makayla into bed and kissed her goodnight. Little did they know their lives were about to change forever when a cousin, Paul Merhige, went on a shooting spree inside their Jupiter home. Those who didn’t survive include Makayla, Merhige’s twin sisters Lisa Knight and Carla Merhige and their aunt 76-year old Raymonde Joseph.
“It’s day by day and a lot of times it’s like ‘How do we go on’,” said Muriel Sitton.
The couple said they found comfort in Makayla’s bedroom, reading her journals and watching home videos of Makayla doing what she loved; dancing, playing music and telling stories.
One of the thing’s Muriel Sitton said she loved the most was listening to a recording of Makayla telling the story of The Bear’s Castle which she wrote; Muriel said she would listen to it nightly.
“Jim would be crying and couldn’t listen, but for me, I needed to hear her voice,” said Muriel Sitton.
When illustrator Tyler Hollis heard about the tragedy, she offered to do a single book. Hollis said she lost her own daughter years earlier and hoped the book would ease the pain.READ MORE: Gun Sales On Pace For Record Year
“It takes away some of the darkness, it shines a little bit of light into the darkness,” said Hollis.
It did much more.
The Sittons decided to publish The Bear’s Castle last summer. So far, the story of the young bear and unicorn has sold more than a thousand copies, a gift which the Sittons said they never expected. So they set up a scholarship fund in Makayla’s name.
“We always knew great things would come from her life,” said Jim Sitton.
Great things like helping 13-year old Anna Splendorillo get music lessons.
Splendrillo said is the scholarship didn’t’ happen she would never had been able take lessons because “My daddy doesn’t have a job right now.”
“When you see the children and you see the good coming out of this, it doesn’t make up for it, but it makes you say ‘Okay, there is something good coming out of this’.”MORE NEWS: 'I Am Getting My Strength Back Day By Day': Kidney Transplant Recipient On Road To Recovery
Something good out of tragedy, the closest thing this family could find to a storybook ending.