While the rest of the windows rolled down, Luke let his mind roll back to the year when he had been 14. It had been one of the worst, and one of the best years of his life! His father Mike, had lost his brother Kelly, and he had gained one – Jonathan. «J» was more than just a favorite cousin he was like a brother. It was something Luke could not explain just accept. He knew the feeling went both ways, and did not question the fact that Jonathan felt it too! Being Guys they did not talk about their relationship, they just lived it!
Jonathan had accepted Luke’s parent’s invitation to spend the summer with them while his parents Kelly and Kerri, were checking on The Family Business and all it’s vast holdings. J, like Luke was not interested in The Family Business and gladly came to spend his vacation time with Luke, his Uncle Mike, and Aunt Megan.
They were planning a wonderful summer. While there had always been horses to ride, Luke had just turned 14 and received his learner’s permit to drive! The old Jeep was at their disposal for Luke to practice driving, but only on estate grounds. His secret plan was to teach J to drive… Out from under Ellie and Joe’s eagle eyes.
Summer vacation was a piece of cake and they were going to eat their fill! Luke at 14 was the leader, and J’s 12 years did not bother either of them. They were too much in tune with each other and their plans were their own! Horse back riding, driving the Jeep, eating Junk Food, splashing in the creek and maybe, just maybe, meeting some girls!
Luke’s family of Aunts, Uncles, and Cousins, had bred horses in Ireland before some of them immigrated to the United States. The rest of the family came here and they visited Ireland regularly. Luke loved his Irish relatives and J had gone with them on several occasions. Both boys loved the countryside, the music, and the singing. J could ride almost as well as Luke, and sang even better. The trip to Ireland, planned for later that summer, exited them both!
Then tragedy struck…It cut a path of sorrow, shock, and unforgettable pain through the whole family. J’s parents, Kelly and Kerri, had gone down with their plane in a sudden summer thunderstorm, killing them and another couple flying with them. The consensus was that lighting had rendered the plane powerless.
This tragedy left Luke’s father, two remaining brothers, Uncles Donovan and Patrick, and their sister, Stella. Luke loved his Uncle’s and Aunt Stella, especially J’s father and mother.
Aunt Stell› whom everyone called Aunt Steel, ran the families Corporate Headquarters with an iron hand. The only thing she did not count on her regular Annual Report was the number of sheets on the toilet paper rolls! She was brilliant. She made sure everything was distributed equally among the family. Aunt Steel had never married and doted on her nieces and nephews. They loved her as only four big brothers could love an only baby sister. Secretly they greatly admired her Steel Trap Mind and were glad to be free from feeling trapped in the Families Corporate Office.
Aunt Steel had the family jet in the air within an hour of hearing the news. All went En Family to bring the bodies of their brother Kelly and his wife Kerri home. Then they laid them to rest side-by-side in the family cemetery. Their great-great grandfather had homesteaded the land many years ago for that purpose.
The whole family grieved together, leaning heavily on their faith in God and each other. The Comforter held them as Christ had promised through Paul’s letters to each and everyone who would believe. They were believers; but they knew that pain and sorrow come to us all…
The night of the funeral Luke slipped down to J’s room and heard him crying. He found his father there holding him in his arms. He silently pointed to the other side of the bed for Luke to join them. They lovingly held and sandwiched J between them and cried with him.
J sobbingly asked, «Why? Uncle Mike WHY? Tell me why!»
His Uncle answered honestly, «I don’t know son, I just don’t know.»
He reared up in the bed and shoving them away he yelled, «Don’t ever tell me again that God is good or that Jesus loves me…because they don›t! God sent the rain and lightning that killed them and Jesus did not stop it. No angels protected them. Any one of them could have but they did not. I don’t believe God is good and I don’t want to hear about Him ever again»!
It remained so until this day…
Luke’s father and Aunt Steel were co-executors of Kelly’s will. Mike was J’s legal guardian and the summer vacation became permanent. While J’s naturally sweet nature held towards all the family, he refused to participate in Blessing Night. It had always been a family tradition for as long as Luke could remember.
On Blessing Night, they discussed any and all problems and read the Scripture. They shared their prayer requests with much laughter and joy. Singing was uppermost and a meal of togetherness always followed. Each child knew he was valued and loved. All belonged not only to this family, but to the Family of God.