On Oct. 2, 2006, Terri Roberts heard the shocking news: Her son, Charles Carl Roberts IV, had shot 10 Amish girls at the Nickel Mines schoolhouse, killing five of them, before fatally shooting himself. The shooting shocked Roberts’ quiet Pennsylvania community, but almost as shocking was the display of forgiveness from the Amish, who forgave the shooter and embraced his family. Five years later, Roberts has been healing—and one of the things that has helped the most is spending time with her son’s victims, USA Today reports.
She started inviting the five survivors and their mothers to picnics and tea parties at her house just three months after the shootings. At one get-together, she learned that Mary Liz King had a harder road than the rest of the mothers: Her daughter, Rosanna, never fully recovered and remains paralyzed. From that day on, Roberts started visiting Rosanna, now 11, weekly. She bathes her and brushes her hair, cleans her bedclothes, talks to her, sings to her, and reads Bible stories. Though at first she wasn’t sure she was strong enough to continue, Roberts now finds peace in those visits. “As we reach out in ways that bring a touch, we can find great healing,” she says.