I have stared at my blank screen for an hour.  Sometimes out of focus, as tears once again well in my eyes, sometimes crystal clear but with complete emptiness.  There just aren’t words adequate enough to share the love and pain these past two days have brought our family. Wednesday night Cole lost his childhood best friend Jack in a single-vehicle accident.

Cole & Jack first met at their small, tiny (as in 4-8 students per grade) Catholic school in Southern Pines, NC when we were stationed at Ft. Bragg. Soon, all the boys were thick as thieves and we had a couple years of beautiful, perfect friendship. Not just the boys, but their sisters, brothers, and their parents as well.  I had, we had, our people.  They are still our people. The last couple of days have shown me just how much they are still our people. My heart hurts so much.

I think their lifelong friendship was cemented the fall of 2008, when they joined Lego Club and competed as a team in the First Lego League. They built small Lego robots that performed a variety of programmed tasks in a fierce, albeit slow, competition for the winning trophy.  Sadly, they did not win. But what an incredible experience and how much fun we all had cheering them on! I was new to photography back then, and my second ever printed photobook was their Lego Club Yearbook. I can’t look through it quite yet. Jack is on almost every page.


Jack & Cole; Jack & his mom in 2009

I frequently rave about my love of Skype.  I so look forward to birthdays and holidays when I have my mom, sisters and one or more of my big boys all on Skype, all at the same time. It is not the same as being together, but seeing their smiling faces, it is almost as good. My kids, especially Cole, love Skype just as much. He almost always has a Skype window open.  All these years in Germany, we are on year 7, he’s kept in touch with Jack (and his barely younger brother Joey). They Skype. Talk. Laugh. Play MMORP games together.  They are together on multiple games, multiple teams. Cole has seamlessly integrated his friends from our time in California, Minnesota, North Carolina and Germany into one big circle. He is my kid. He makes friends for life.

Life. I can’t believe I just typed that word. I can’t get past it. I don’t understand how an amazing young man like Jack is just gone. I believe in God. I believe in Heaven, but I really, really, really wish Jack was still here on this Earth. I wish his mom could just hold him in her arms again. I wish his dad could ruffle his hair and bearhug him. I wish Cole could click on “Jack” and hear his voice again.  See his serious face, with that rare, wonderful grin and gruff giggle. My heart physically hurts.

I am working hard to coordinate Cole’s travel back to the states, once again on Space-A flight, and back to my parents in Southern Pines. Hopefully Nathan’s (below) dad can fit Cole in their car and they can all drive down to Florida together. Cole wants nothing more than to be at Jack’s funeral. I want nothing more than to have Jack back. No funeral. No pain. No tears.

It is not about what I want. I need to accept this terrible loss. I need to hold my son and be strong. I need to pray for John & Marie & Joey. I need to trust in God. I need my people.


Nicky, Joey, Cole, Jack & Nathan in April, 2014