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The Huddle Of The Wife And Kids

I had planned to post today, but I wasn't sure what I was going to write. I'm still not but here goes...

Last night I abandoned my exhaustion, left my lovely daughter and traveled an hour and a half north of my home to visit one of my best friends. I was in a race against distance and time to a place I've never been. I had to be there by 10 pm. Why? Because that's when my friend's brother was coming to pick him up so the two of them could make a long, lonely drive to Kentucky where at 2pm today my great friend is to surrender himself to a federal prison camp. I had to see him before he left. If I didn't I wouldn't be able to live with myself.

Like me, my friend is a man, dad and husband and my friend has always been one of those sources that I've relied on for wisdom, encouragement and strength. For nearly 17 years he played this role in my life. Then about 2 years ago, the roles reversed.

He had gotten himself into what I initially thought was financial trouble. I remember when he first confessed his errors I came down on him hard, but told him there was a way out of it. I gave him a nice piece of cash to the tune of a couple thousand dollars. It wouldn't solve. It would help. I thought all was fine and then I didn't hear from him for almost a year. What I knew was merely the tip of the iceberg.

My friend went down in a fireball of legal trouble, or rather, legal infractions. And because he was a lawyer and a federal prosecutor at that, the powers that be were compelled to make an example out of him. Reading about him in the paper and reading the FBI press release caught me off guard and left me scratching my head. How is all this even possible? I remember asking myself. In the end only one or two of the half dozen charges stuck. And even the man who had it in for him admitted he was a good guy who made bad mistakes. He's got to pay the piper and hopefully in no time he'll be back home with his wife and 3 daughters.

I cried as I sped through the night, thinking about all the times he cried on the phone to me, knowing he had made bad choices, but had only done so to support his family and the lifestyle they had become accustomed too (which includes an enormous house). I told him a little natural human greed and needless risk taking probably factored in as well. When I finally saw him for the first time in three years, he looked solid. He was a man who seemed to be at peace with his fate and was ready to go. We hugged and almost immediately began cracking jokes. I talked to his brother and nephew, who was tagging along for the ride. His eldest daughter met me, though I've known her since she was a little bit (now she's nearly my height). His littlest ones met me and waved excitedly. And I embraced his wife, telling her that if she needed anything I was a phone call away, and I would be calling because I was only a phone call away. I told my friend I would do my best even though right now I have nothing to give. He told me what I've given him has been priceless.

After talking for entirely too long considering the timetable he was on, we all left the house and then chatted for a little while longer out on the front lawn. Then it was time for him to go. He got into his brother's car with four dollars and a bible. I got into mine. His wife and their kids were all out on the porch watching and waving. The oldest daughter knows exactly what's happening. The two little ones believe he's going away on business. And technically he is going away to handle his business and close out what I pray has been the darkest and dankest chapter of his life.

Because we were out in the sticks I followed behind them for a while until the road became recognizable. We were both taking the same route but my way was East and theirs, West. We hit a red light before parting ways and we all yelled at each other through open windows until the light turned green. Then I wished them well on their drive. They went right, and I went left.

Traveling back home my problems, namely my very real family/life-threatening crisis with my wife that I've been keeping secret from this blog, just seemed silly. All I kept seeing in front of me was a woman and her three girls huddled around her, standing in her front doorway watching her Husband and their Dad drive off into the unknown.

I went to bed heartbroken, but I am hopeful for them all.

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