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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Illustrate the meaning of "Every Dark Cloud has a Silver Lining" (without using the actual phrase or literal example). (02/28/08)

TITLE: Letter From a Life Taker
By Jason Swiney


Dear Brian, Theresa, and your families,

Thank you for talking with Reverend Sykes and agreeing to read this letter. I completely understand your decision not to meet with me or to talk over the phone.

I need to begin with something you may or may not want to hear. Although it is not the sole purpose of this letter, I need to say that I am sorry for causing the deaths of your parents, Edward and Gloria Morrow. I am the reason that you (Brian and Theresa), their grandchildren, and their friends, are living without them. I will live with that knowledge forever.

After his meeting with you, Reverend Sykes informed me that my initial letters were destroyed and never read. Perhaps that was for the best. Perhaps the apologies written four years ago were hollow cries from a twenty-year old secretly clinging to a false belief of somehow being the victim.

It was not the bartender’s fault, as my lawyer argued, for not identifying my ID as fake. Nor was my friend to blame for being too intoxicated to drive his own car. I was responsible when I took the keys and sat behind the wheel, I am responsible today, and I will be responsible long after I am eligible for parole in the summer of 2016.

Since October I have been involved with Reverend Sykes and the New Creation prison ministry. For five months I have heard him proclaim, “You can’t do anything to change your yesterdays, but today you can make a decision to change your tomorrows.” At Christmas I made that decision and accepted Jesus Christ as the Lord of my life. Soon after, the dream began. I shared this reoccurring dream with Reverend Sykes and he believes, as I do, that it concerns my “tomorrows.” He encouraged me to share it with you.

It always begins at the scene of the wreck, and while I won’t go into detail, the carnage is horrifying. I try to close my eyes but they don’t respond. Gray-faced paramedics, glaring at me in disgust, load me onto a stretcher. It begins to roll and pick up speed. Strapped down and screaming, I travel past people who have forgotten me and places I may never visit again. The stretcher eventually stops in the holding cell outside the courtroom. The sounds of lawyers, a gavel, witnesses, and crying escape from within. The door opens. I plead in vain as the stretcher moves forward. Suddenly, everything becomes dark and silent. When the light returns I am standing on a stage, shackled around the ankles and handcuffed at the wrists. I see hundreds, maybe thousands, of young faces. All are high school or college age. They are completely still, waiting on me to speak. I see my younger self in the crowd, staring, confused. I also see Edward and Gloria. They sit in the front row. Like the picture shown in the courtroom from their thirtieth anniversary, his arm is around her shoulder, she leans slightly his way, and both are smiling. The dream ends when Edward looks directly at me and says, “Tell them.”

The dream I first thought to be a punishment I now believe is a purpose.

With your permission, and with your blessings, I want to tell others how an arrogant, promising college student ruined her own life, ended two wonderful lives, and tragically impacted the lives of countless others. Reverend Sykes has nominated me for a prison program that would allow me to travel and speak at schools across the state. I would still be completely incarcerated, as my prison uniform and ankle chain would testify to the audience. Although I have no right to ask you for anything, Reverend Sykes believes a letter from your family would greatly influence the committee I must face.

I want to keep other youth, invincible and naïve, from making the same mistake. I want to look into their eyes and tell them how it feels to wake up one morning knowing you have killed someone’s parents. Someone’s grandparents. I want to save their lives. I want to honor God’s purpose. I want to honor Edward and Gloria Morrow. I want to meet them in the kingdom of Heaven and I want to make them proud.

Please take all the time you need in making your decision. Reverend Sykes has asked that you contact him with any questions or concerns.

Thank you again for agreeing to read this,
Emily B.

Romans 6:13

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Member Comments
Member Date
Holly Westefeld03/06/08
A lovely example of God bringing good out of tragedy.
Seema Bagai 03/07/08
Vividly written and the plot seemed realistic. Great job.
Shirley McClay 03/07/08
Very original and creative! Nice job!
Verna Cole Mitchell 03/08/08
This story is powerful in its telling of how God changes lives. Well done.