On our drive to court today for Chadd's sentencing I wondered what it would be like IF the other family would be forgiving and there could be healing and reconciliation. I tried not to get my hopes up too far. But moments before Georgia had shared that her Daily Devotional today had the title, Rising from the Wreck. Really? Friends sent us scriptures that were of comfort and hope. Our attorney prayed an awesome prayer with the 20 something of us there to support Chadd and Chelsea.
In the courtroom the family had asked the Prosecutor to read a statement. It was heartfelt and moved all of us. I've often thought of the horror of that day for them. To hear it in detail was a confirmation.
Tears flowed. All over the courtroom.
Then it was time for the three of us who were speaking for Chadd to take our turns. I have to say that all that I had prepared left my head as I listened as two of Chadd's friends went first. I just had to pray that God would replace those words with what He wanted to have said. My heart was pounding so hard that it kept getting out of rhythm and then would give a hard re-set beat. I wondered if I was going to pass out. But figured I just had to get through it the best I could. Words came. What I remember most were the intent and kind eyes of Judge R. He didn't look away once! I couldn't tell you most of what I said, but it was from my heart and I think it covered most of what I had wanted to say. Some that I hadn't planned too, I think.
Then Chadd's attorney spoke before Chadd, broken, turned to the family and told them how very sorry he was and that if there was anything he could have done after the fact to change it he would in a second! There was a lot of weeping in that moment.
Judge R spoke. He reviewed the epidemic problems with cell phone distractions these days. It is so true! I'm guilty!! Although, much less so in the car since July 16, 2015. My mantra now is, "Please put that cell phone in your glove compartment before you drive.". I'm totally serious. You may not even be touching the phone but if it causes you to crash even by you looking down at it for a couple of seconds you can be charged. This is what they say happened to Chadd since the text that had arrived before the accident was still unopened. Anyway, the long and the short of the sentence was that Chadd will serve six months of house arrest, pay $6,700 in restitution plus some other amounts, complete 200 hours of community service and will be on probation for five years. Mercy. Grace. And a testimony to Chadd's life of walking with the Lord and the support of a community. The judge was pretty impressed with the amount of letters (60) of support written for Chadd. He had never seen that many for one defendant before.
Here's the best part of the day as far as I am concerned. Remember I was hoping for healing to begin? One of the Kunkle family friends approached Chadd and his attorney to offer to go along when he does talks for teens or other groups about this experience to work together to keep this from happening to anyone else again. She told him that the family doesn't hate him....they are seriously grieving though. In fact, in their statement it said that Mr. Kunkle had forgiven Chadd before he died.
The family wants to meet with Chadd to work toward healing. Prayers answered!!
Our prayers will continue for this process to go well, if the Lord allows it.
All Praise to Jesus. He has carried us all the way to this point.