The painting wasn’t finished. Just like the lives of the children in it. Incomplete. Cut down in the dawn of their existence. Murdered as they slept.
Paramedic Jack Davies had seen many gruesome sights in his life. But none so shocking and nauseating as the scene which now confronted him. For this was no ordinary murder. This was the alarming phenomenon known as ‘the family murder’. The murder committed by someone loved and trusted; usually, but not always, the father.
What tortured, twisted mind could conceive of a plot to shoot his wife and children in their beds and then turn the gun on himself? Jack shook his head in disbelief as he looked at the painting once again. The innocent blue eyes of three children stared back at him. The face of their mother held a wistful expression, almost as if she knew that something was wrong. For surely, even as she painted, her husband must have been plotting to carry out his diabolical plan. The plan to wipe his entire family off the face of the earth.
The face of the perpetrator of this heinous act was incomplete, being not much more than an outline, a shadowy presence in the background, as though the artist could hardly bear to include him in the picture.
Jennifer Walker was not sure what awakened her that night. As she sat up in bed, the pale moonlight which filtered through the gap in the curtains revealed the silhouette of a man holding a gun. And the gun was pointed straight at her. Before she could move or cry out, the gun was fired and she was catapulted back onto her pillow. Her body twitched once or twice and then was still. Satisfied, the man turned and left the room. Four more shots were fired that night and then there was silence. Were it not for a neighbour who, unable to sleep, was standing outside in his garden at the time that the shots were fired, Jennifer may have died along with the rest of her family. As it was the police were notified and paramedics arrived in time to begin their desperate fight to save the woman who was clinging to life by a thread.
There was a lake which sparkled like sapphires, trees of emerald green and fields of beautiful flowers. The four of them, Jennifer and her three children, were holding hands and laughing joyfully as they ran towards the lake. There was Shane, her firstborn, her pride and joy, her golden boy; Lucy, sweet and gentle Lucy with her fair curls and winning smile; and little Amy, her baby, her gift from God. For a short while they sat quietly by the peaceful lake, but after a time the children began to drift away and Jennifer stood silently and watched them, their laughter reaching her ears like the tinkling of a thousand bells. They turned towards their mother and waved and she lifted her hand. “Goodbye, my darlings,” she whispered. “Goodbye. Someday we will all be together again.” As she watched, the three children ran joyfully into the arms of Jesus and as the vision faded, she became aware of voices calling to her insistently and urgently.
“Jennifer! Jennifer! Jenny! Come back! Please come back to us!”
The voices drew her like a magnet and then a strange voice that she had never heard before spoke. “She’s regaining consciousness. See if she recognizes you.”
Her eyes opened and the first faces she saw were of her beloved parents. In their eyes she saw a combination of anguish, compassion and love. And she knew.
“The children,” she whispered. “They’re gone, aren’t they?”
With tears running down their cheeks, they nodded. “I’m afraid so.”
“I know where they are,” she said slowly. “You see, I was with them for a little while. As I drifted at the edge of eternity, I caught the tiniest glimpse of what lies beyond. It is so beautiful. And someday, we will all be there together.”
There was a short silence and then Jennifer looked at her mother. “John?” she asked.
Her mother shook her head. “He…...he…...”
“He was the one who shot us, wasn’t he?” she asked quietly.
What could they say? Together they wept for all that they had lost. But forever Jennifer would find comfort in the last vision she had of her children, safe in the loving arms of Jesus.
And that painting she would finish.
(Based on a true story)
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