AJ arrived home much earlier than expected. In fact, he would have been pulling up to the gate just about the time we reached the gas station, at 11:20 pm. As he walked up the steps, nothing seemed out-of-place or abnormal. He opened the door, immediately focusing in on the letter.

Time has drawn a merciful curtain over much of what happened next.

Sobbing, he searched frantically through the house for the children and me, but all the rooms were quiet and empty. He ran to the other side of the house, calling for Grandpa, counting on the great man of faith to give him some guidance as his world dropped away.

He called my cell phone again and again, pleading with me to come back. (My phone was off so he couldn't call up and yell at me.) He tried Mom over and over. No one would answer anywhere, and he was all alone.

More than once during the night he put the muzzle of his pistol in his mouth, tears running down his face, wanting only an end to the dazzling pain.

He began to pray, asking God for forgiveness for the harm he had done to his family, and asking for help to put things right. The rest of the night, he alternated between praying and calling trying to find me, crying all the while. He didn't sleep, determined to stay awake until I came home.

A smooth sea never made a skilled mariner.
~ English proverb

Neak's Story