Someone asked me about my faith recently, and I thought hard about posting my response here. I do not know how all of you feel about your "faith", but these last two weeks have been turbulent, and I think I needed to write this...not so much to help others...maybe it will...but mainly to help myself. I do not want to go where I was before, because it was scary bad...so here goes... I grew up Catholic and then married a "Southern Baptist" wife. We had the most amazing church and friends in Las Vegas where we moved when I got my first teaching job. We enrolled Brooks in a good church school and were so happy with them too. When we moved to Carson City we found a nice little church and found another wonderful pastor and good friends. I tell everyone that God and I are still close, but we're just not talking right now. I know it's irrational, but I'm so very mad at Him now. My "saving" grace in all this is that I know He understands. With all the faith I have I believe there is a heaven and I know Brooks believed this, as well. There have been too many instances since Brooks died where God has shown He is still there for me for them to be simply coincidental. They have all been in moments when I just didn't think I could go on...literally...that's how bad it was. I will tell you of one instant that is beyond my comprehension and I just didn't rely on faith, but looked at it analytically, too. This was back on August 19 last year as Brooks' first Angelversary was coming up. I was in a bad way emotionally so I went to work out at my gym. I ran and ran and ran and cried the whole time. I was so upset with everything...so angry...so depressed...so emotional... Since I only had this cheap flip phone I was using Brooks' smartphone for music so I had both with me. This was before I had changed my number to his phone. When I got into my truck my phone rang. It was coming from Brooks' phone, because it said his name. I answered, of course, but didn't say anything. The phone call then ended. I became even more emotional, because I thought, "How stupid am I?"... I didn't even say "I love you, son." I waited for my phone to ring again so I could say those words, but after five minutes nothing happened so I decided to head home. I figured I must have bumped his phone somehow and that's how I got the call. Brooks' grave is on the way so I stopped like I usually do. When I got to the cemetery I made sure I had my phone in one hand and Brooks' phone in the other so I didn't bump anything. I prayed and prayed that I would get another phone call so I could tell him I love him. As I stood in front of his grave crying and praying my phone rang again and it was Brooks. There was nobody on the line, but I talked and talked for about five minutes and told him everything I could. Now, the part where I know this came from God and He allowed me this miracle. Again, the contact information that showed up on my phone said it was from Brooks, and when I looked at his call history it had my number, but only 400-7465 WITHOUT the 3-digit prefix (775). When I looked at his contacts for me the prefix was there. When I looked at previous calls from him before he died, both my phone and his phone all had "Dad". Nowhere on his phone had he just that 7-digit number without using the contacts. There was no way I could have bumped his phone and actually dialed those numbers. If I had somehow touched a previous call it would have come up on his phone as being to "Dad." Being skeptical because we "humans" don't seem to accept miracles anymore, I looked at every contact and nowhere was there a contact for "dad" under just the 400-7465 number. I looked at calls he made to other people and checked their contact information and every time they matched. The next day I went to the ATT store and asked them if a caller ID ever lacked the whole number typed into the sender contacts and they said "no." The contact number would automatically be exactly the same on the phone it called. I believe God made it an aberration so I would know it was Him. I did not question it after that. I have never since gotten another phone call, but I also have never since been in the state I was. There have been other instances when I needed something healing, and Inexplicably someone showed up at his grave for me, or suddenly a post on FB would appear where a friend remembered him and said something to ease my pain. Or someone here wrote words that fit perfectly in my heart. And then, of course, the deer at his grave the other week...right when Renea and I needed it the most. I have never seen them before...ever. Why am I so angry with God? As Brooks grew up I prayed fervently every night for my son's life...his safety...and later for strength for both of us to battle his addiction to drugs (a late addiction derailed a college scholarship to play baseball and interest from some pro teams). He had "life by the tail." I was there for him every step of the way through his baseball career...we were inseparable and both loved being together. I was there for him through his addiction...he fought it at every turn and never blamed anyone else and continually made strides only to be sucked back in...many times I cradled him in my arms as he went through withdrawals and asked me to help him through it. Finally he was accepted into a men's only Salvation Army rehab program that was pretty no-nonsense with a very good reputation...but so tough...six months with limited contact. Most guys were much older than Brooks and had more serious addictions and didn't finish. It was obviously religion based and we would see Brooks every Wednesday and Sunday at church for the first month, but were allowed no contact. At the fifth week we went to the Wednesday service and they said Brooks and another man had left the program. The counselors said it was over a petty thing, but Brooks and the other boy thought they would be sent out of the program, which would probably mean jail time for them. So they figured they would leave so the authorities couldn't come and arrest them. They didn't know it, but the authorities wouldn't have come anyway. Dumb decison, but so is addiction. I was devastated but Renea and I immediately drove around Reno looking for them. Reno is about 300, 000 people so it's a big city, and we found them after only about 15 minutes. I told both of them we were going back to the service and see if they would accept them back. Both said it wouldn't happen, because they were told that at the beginning of the program. I didn't care and believed God helped me find them so it would work out. When we got back to the service they were just finishing up. Everybody looked at us as we entered and many of the men nodded to us and smiled. As the time came for prayer requests...you would walk up to the front and kneel and the leaders would take your prayers...I went up with Renea, Brooks, and the other boy, and we laid it out for God. I needed Brooks to stay in the program, not because I was afraid of him going to jail, but because I wanted him to defeat his addiction and have a life that we could live together and enjoy. After the service while the counselors and pastor were talking it over, almost every man in the program came over and hugged all of us, and told Brooks that he meant alot to them...I found out later from the counselors that Brooks seemed to make everything better for the older guys with his optimism about his future... his singing... his dancing... how he shared what addiction had done to him and us. Even in the depth of his addiction he maintained a good outlook. He didn't want to disappoint us and fought and fought to overcome it. He already had a close relationship with the counselors and they could see him staying after he graduated to become a counselor himself. The counselors were all previous graduates. After everyone had left...although they were all waiting outside...the counselors came over with the pastor and told us that they were going to allow the boys to stay in the program, but they would have to start at the beginning again. The pastor said they had never, ever done this and it was against the rules, but Brooks had demonstrated that he wanted to be clean and since we had come back to the service they thought maybe God was telling them something. They told us that if we had come the next day or even later that evening they wouldn't have allowed the boys back. I guess the other boy hadn't been doing so well, but they couldn't accept one back in and not the other. Brooks said later that he eventually did leave. When we left the sanctuary the men were still waiting and were so happy that Brooks was back in the program....clapping him on the back. He was grinning from ear to ear. I remember so vividly him hugging me and his mom and telling us how thankful he was for us and how he knew he was going to beat his addiction this time. It was like the biggest weight was lifted from all of our shoulders. Funny how life changes in an instant... So hard to describe that feeling of elation and knowing God provided that miracle. Brooks completed the program, met Shauna and the kids, and stayed clean. He drank a little at parties and stuff, but I remember him telling me it just wasn't the same and didn't feel the need to get high or drunk to have fun. I thought everything was truly right in our world until he was killed. With all the faith I had...from the essence of who I was...I thought that God had some important works for him, and everything we had gone through for the past five years had prepared us...prepared him...for something glorious. I was so sure that my prayers were being heard and answered and I had my son back like before. I thought I was the most blessed person on Earth. Brooks and Shauna were perfect for each other, and he adored those kids...went to their open houses...talked with their teachers...the whole "dad thing" and he had purpose. But then...from the moment I saw the officer at our door that terrible morning, my faith has been shaken beyond my comprehension. How could all of that have happened...and then this? So I am angry at God, but that doesn't mean I don't think there is a God...being angry at Him just reaffirms my belief in God. I just don't understand!!! My mortal mind cannot comprehend the death of my son...how he died...how God could take my only son. But I know deep down inside that it wasn't God who took my son. It was a man with a gun...maybe on drugs...maybe with mental illness, but not God. I know that I am just lashing out at God, because that's all I can do. He's the scapegoat... How do I deal with that emotion? It's so irrational in some ways, but so very real in other ways. Now, all my faith tells me that my son is indeed in Heaven. i believe that with all my heart and soul just like I know that God gave me 24 wonderful years with Brooks to cherish and that I will see him again. It's hard to explain my feelings in words, even though I'm writing a lot of them, but one amazing day I will be with my son and we will hug like we did outside the door at the Salvation Army, and he will tell me thanks again for being patient with him and not giving up. I get up every day and go to bed every night not praying, but telling God that I am holding Him to the promise of heaven and our reunion. That is what I cling to on those days when life seems to hold no meaning and all seems lost in my world. I tell Him I don't understand but I will be patient and I will see my son again and everything will be ok again. Bad things happen in life and we are experiencing the most terrible thing. I don't believe it is God's will. My faith is absolute in God, even though I am shaken to the core. What else can I do? I think I mentioned this before. I reached out to the family of the man who shot Brooks. I sent a sympathy card first, then brought them a Christmas card, and on Brooks' Angelversary brought them a card, because it their son's too. I think how horrible it would be to lose your son, and know that he took another's life on top of that. Renea goes to a Christian book club at a church and the parents of this man bring donuts to the church every Sunday...they own a wonderful donut place in town...and they had mentioned to the pastor how devastated they were for us. I don't go there very often now...too painful...but when I do I get a big hug and nothing really needs to be said. I wonder who gets more solace from my actions...me or them? One of the reasons I made the original video of our beloved children was to remind myself that others were hurting like me, and that our children need to be remembered, not just by those close to them, but by anyone who came across the video. God didn't necessarily answer my prayers before for Brooks, but I know his life will still have meaning. His friends tell me that all the time...even after all these many months. I am so thankful for this group...for what we share even in our deepest grief...no matter how long ago the loss. I so needed that when I first came to Indigo and it was provided for me. Took me a long time to find it though. I believe I have it now. As I am making a new video I see the children of those who were here before me, those who are new here, and even those who haven't been on here for such a long time, and I want you to know that they will never be forgotten...ever. I have been reading all the old posts...so much pain...but yet so much love...for our children and for each other. For me, personally, it is hard to explain how it effects me...my world before was a small, little bubble, and only certain people were allowed in. I am so changed...as a person...teacher...even a husband, although I must do better there for Renea. What I wouldn't give to just have a minute more with Brooks, but in some ways all of you here make it seem like I have that minute with him...that and more. I just can't tell you all how blessed I feel for that. Doesn't seem like I should feel blessed, but I am and I think that is the beginning of my hope. Thank you!