April 22, 1994 – Friday – 4:05 p.m.

I just got Tenielle’s letter in the mail.

This is my reply to that letter, and I will let her read this:

Tenielle, the two of us saw everything differently.  Before I begin, I ask for your forgiveness.  Some words are better unheard and better unsaid.  The reason I acted the way I did was because I was confused, not mad.  I didn’t know how you felt or really how I felt.  I was upset Saturday because of the way Skit Practice went.  Tenielle, writing and directing skits, drama, and theater is something I love doing very much, more than I can ever express.  It is a part of me, it’s the way I communicate.  God put it in my soul and I can’t take it away.  And when hardly no one acted like they were enjoying it and they all acted like they’d rather be doing something else, well, it tore up my soul.  It hurt so much because I wanted you guys to enjoy the process, but you weren’t, so I blamed myself.  And I brought in Pastor Steve to help me do the job.  I couldn’t do it by myself.  You and Jenna both acted upset and in a way I was sick of all the junk and crap my brother was giving me.  So, I thought, “well forget this place, they won’t have to put up with me much longer anyway.”

And it hurt me to think that because I don’t want to forget this place.  I love it here.  I love you and Jenna, Marcus, Kevin, and everybody.  My whole life has been right here, but now my life won’t let me stay here.  It’s so hard going to school everyday Tenielle, because I see people whom I know I will never see again after the 10th of June.  This is the only life I’m living with only one heart to pull me through it.  I’ve never done this before and I don’t know what I’m doing.

And I’m not jealous because you like Kevin.  I’m so glad.  Kevin is the greatest brother.  He really knows how to care for someone and make them feel good.  Please Tenielle, spend as much time with him as you can.  You will treasure it for the rest of your life.  I know I will.

My mom asked me the other day if I had any fears of leaving.  I said yes, but I didn’t tell her.  I actually have two.  My greatest fear is that what is happening now and the time I have spent here will soon only be a vague, distant memory, and that all of us have spent together all of the tender emotions, all the smiles, and the laughter, all the times we jumped on the trampoline, all of the times we met at Mr. Gatti’s, all of the Christian Skate Nights, everything that makes my life so wonderful right now, these great days of my youth, will be lost in oblivion after I leave and grow older.

I don’t want that to happen.

I asked Brandon if he thought about this place anymore.  He told me NO!  I never want to lose my memory of this place.

I’ll remember a time I knew what happiness was, and a new life will begin.  Tomorrow.  Daylight.  I must wait for the sunrise.  I must think of the new life.  When the dawn comes tonight will be a memory too, and a new life will begin.

But I will only think of that new life when I am there.

Right now, my life is here and this is where I will be.

This isn’t a time for us to be sad Tenielle.  I’m thankful for the time I have spent here.  The part of me that wants to go to college is the real me.  The part of me that wants to stay is my emotions.

So, I thank you, and I thank Jenna.  Because the two of you came into my life when several other friends of mine were leaving.  And if you hadn’t been there to cheer me up then I would not be where I am today.

The two of you saved me from a lot of heartache.  And by doing that you saved my life.  

When one person saves another’s life, he or she has saved the world in time.

Tenielle, both you and Jenna have saved the world.  Every time you made me laugh, you saved another person’s life.

All I can say is thank you.

Love, Jacob.

January 17, 1994 – Monday – 12:46 p.m.

Today is my older brother’s birthday.  He is 19.  

A few minutes earlier my whole body was shaking.  I couldn’t control it.  Ever since I woke up I’ve been thinking of Jenna and Tenielle. Jenna mostly.

Yesterday morning they weren’t at church.  I went to Scott’s after church and they showed up to the evening service.  I had a letter for Jenna, answering the questions she asked me when she wrote me.  I was up on stage and I didn’t have a chance to give it to her.  Shar’s whole family, Sunny, Jenna, and Tenielle all got up and left a few minutes after Shurby began preaching.  At first I was sort of confused.  But I figured it must have been an emergency if the whole family left.  So this morning, I mailed Jenna her letter.

This is what Jenna’s letter said.  It shows her age a little bit, but I still found it sweet:

“Jacob, I think the youngest age for you should be 14.  Don’t get mad at me, but why did you like Veronica?  I don’t think Veronica knows how to act in front of anyone, even though I really don’t know her.  But if 14 doesn’t work, go to 15.  Do you want to go with anybody?  I think Cheryl likes you.  I asked her Sunday night who she liked, she said some boy at her school, but I think she likes you.  Do you think she does because of the way she acts?  Do you still like Tenielle even though she’s 12?  You look like a cherry on the stage, I think it’s funny but not in a bad way.  Please answer this question: when is the last time you cried?  Please don’t lie to me, I’m not going to make fun of you.  Please tell me the reason you cried, too.  Do you know Steve, Melissa’s brother?  He goes with Shar, but don’t tell anyone.  Do you think they are a good couple or is he kind of perverted?  Not that I’m interested but how do you act when you go with someone?”

I answered all her questions.  When she asked me if I want to go with anybody, I said no, because I’m going off to college soon and it would be simpler if I were just friends with that person.  And when she asked me if I still like Tenielle, I said “Yes, I like her the same way I like you.”

And I do.  I like them both.  I enjoy being around them.  Jenna will be 14 in March and that’s only three years.  When I liked Ryan, she was 14 and 15; same with Christi.

But earlier today, I didn’t know what to do.  I want to get close to Tenielle and Jenna, but I just don’t want to get hurt.  

My life is a book.  And I’m writing it down.  I want to be honest with myself and never cover up how I really feel.  But sometimes, I just don’t know how I feel.

January 15, 1994 – Saturday – 10:30 p.m.

Today is January 15, 1994 and today would go under the category of “One of the Best Days of My Life.”  It wasn’t exactly what happened that made it a good day, but it was more about what I learned.

The only way to begin is with last night, which also ties in with today.

After work, I went to Mr. Gatti’s; mom dropped me off.  Jenna, Tenielle, Shar, and Sunny showed up a few minutes later.  Shar and I split a pizza.  Then Scott showed up and he had a few slices.  Later, Jenna, Tenielle, Shar, Sunny and I played a game.  It’s too difficult to describe here, but we had a blast.

While we were playing, Ryan came in with a friend.  They sat at a table across the room and then a guy sat with them.  For about 45 minutes I didn’t say a word to her, then I excused myself from the game for a moment and went over to her table and said, “I just wanted to say ‘hey’ so you couldn’t accuse me of being stuck up later.”  I smiled.  She smiled back and said, “Oh Jacob,” and I left and went back and sat with the four girls.

Four.

It hit me.  Something was different.  All the other times I went to Mr. Gatti’s it was always with Ryan, Amy, Cheryl, and Christi.

Now, I was with Jenna, Tenielle, Sunny, and Shar.  Retrospect hit me and all the girls noticed something was wrong and kept begging me to tell them what I was thinking.  Jenna and Tenielle mostly.

The five of us joked about everything.  I never did tell them though until later.  The evening was great fun, but then we had to leave.  Sunny’s parents came to pick them up and they said that they needed a ride tomorrow to the door to door ministry shindig.  I offered to pick them up.  Sunny’s mom gave me directions.

They left.  I went with Scott to his house and Kevin picked me up from there later.

We went home and soon, morning came.

We picked up Marcus, like we do every Saturday morning, (unless he’s staying the night), and we drove to Sanford.  Cheryl showed up at Band Practice.  I was supposed to leave at 10:00 a.m. to get Jenna, Tenielle, Sunny, and Shar.  I didn’t leave until 10:30 a.m. since Kevin and Marcus took the car to get something to eat.

Well, I’ve never been in that part of Lee County before and I got lost.  When I finally found their house, I discovered that they somehow conjured up another ride and had already left because they didn’t think I was coming.  Well, I drove back and when I arrived at the church, I saw Tenielle running out to explain everything.  Jenna and Shar followed.  Sunny didn’t come.

We all had a good laugh.  We then went in and prayed for a while and then head out into the city to spread the Word.

Dear God…I saw poverty today like nothing I’ve ever seen before.  And I complain when the hot water in the shower runs out.  It made me thankful.

Very thankful.

A few people got saved, one baptized in the spirit.  A wonderful, wonderful, time.  There is nothing like sharing the gospel.  I love it.

We all ate pizza back at the church and had a service.  I took the three girls back and we had a wonderful conversation.  I told them what I was thinking about in terms of Ryan and the other girls I used to spend a lot of time with.  They were thankful I was with them.  I wish I could live through that conversation again.  There was more laughter and joy in that short drive than I’m most experience in a week.

I took Shar to her house and Jenna and Tenielle to theirs.  They live in a trailer park.  The trailer itself isn’t that bad.  When we got there, Jenna gave me a letter she had written to me the night before.  And their mom gave me $3 for gas money…I accepted.

We said our goodbye’s and I left.  While I drove off, I saw Jenna come outside in the bitter cold and wave goodbye.  I waved back and drove on.  In the rearview mirror, I saw her standing there waiting until she couldn’t see my car anymore, then I’m assuming she went back inside.

I smiled.

When I got back to the church, the skit group met and we got stuff cleared away.

Then myself, Kevin, Marcus, Cheryl, and Sherry and her sister all went bowling.  I won and then the three girls left while I watched Kevin and Marcus play a game in the arcade.  While there, I saw so many people acting “worldly.”  Praise God I’m a Christian.  I can be myself and take off my mask.  Everyone always seems to be performing for everyone else; trying to get attention; simply being too loud.  It’s like I’m the only one who is aware of who I am.

We went home, and I read Jenna’s letter.  I’ll try to write in here later.

The reason today was so wonderful was because it was so simple.

Right now I’m going to call Brandon; Mom said he called earlier.

And I’m going to end this wonderful day by talking to my wonderful friend who moved across America more than a year ago.

December 13, 1993 – Monday – 3:57 p.m.

A year ago, Veronica and I began a special type of relationship that ended on May 11th of this year.

I always thought a year was a long time.

A year is a very short time.  Trust me.

Yesterday was special to me.  When I came to church Tenielle and Jenna were there.  And the three of us helped bring chairs from the sanctuary to the children’s church room.  It was being set up for the Thanksgiving/Christmas dinner.  Jenna had brought one extra so she was carrying it back.

I was behind her and she said, “This is pitiful, me carrying this thing back.”

So I said, knowing what she was hinting at, “Well, let me be gentlemen like and carry it for you.”

She thanked me.

The two of them still call me dude.

After praise and worship I went into children’s church.  Jenna and Tenielle didn’t go.  Their too old.  While in there, I overheard Shane in conversation.  Now Shane used to go with Tenielle for about two weeks; you know how 12-year-old are.  I heard him tell Wayne that he couldn’t let him read “it” because it had a lot of cussing in it.

I butted in and said, “What does?”

“A letter.”

“From whom?”

“From Tenielle.”

An evil smirk filled my face.  “Let me read it.”

He did.

Wow!

She was mad.

Shane broke up with her for some ninth grader.  She said a few choice four letter words, a few of them even misspelled.  I got mad.  I didn’t think Tenielle was like that.  I was going to say something to her, but they left church while I was still in children’s church.  I would wait until that night.

I wasn’t going to say anything bad, I was just going to give her a little conviction by saying she shocked me, but that I will not think any less of her.

Why should I?

Ryan once admitted to me that she smoked a few times in her past.

I will not judge people by their past.  Because I would not want to be judged by the sins of my past.

His mercies are new every morning.

Cheryl came back with us yesterday.  She wanted to go to Marcus’s performance.  We both went.  It was great.  Better than before.

Once it was over, it was time for church.  We arrived early and I practiced Canon in D some.

Tenielle wasn’t there that night.  Bummer.

The service was awesome!  I love Jesus.  He loves me.  Everything is going to be fine.

Every person has their own song that he or she worships the Lord with.  I used to wonder what mine was.  Last night I found out it was Canon in D.  And once I learn how to play it, I will worship God with it.

In the back of my mind, I always knew it was Canon in D.

After church Sharlene came up to me (everyone calls her Shar for short).  She asked me if I asked Veronica out or if she asked me out.  I told her that I asked her out.  She said she didn’t want to know, that someone else did.

“Who?”

“Jenna!”

Jenna is 13, she’s pretty and sweet.  But that is still too young.

She said that Jenna likes me.

Oh well, I was flattered.  Shar said the reason they were not at church was because they had to babysit.  I questioned her about the letter from Tenielle.  She said she was shocked herself.  Tenielle isn’t like that, she must have been really mad.

That made me feel a little better.

Scott then took us all to McDonald’s.  Many families from the church were there.  One of Wayne’s cousins name was Christina; she’s seven years old and her family moved here from Florida.  She is so sweet.  She’s my little buddy.  But at McDonald’s last night, I had to leave, but she didn’t want me to.  She wanted me to stay and play with her.  When I told her that I couldn’t stay, she reached up and grabbed my balls and squeezed.  This girl knew right where to grab.  It hurt.  She said she was sorry and to please not tell on her.

I didn’t.  She’s just an innocent little girl.

A lot more stuff happened yesterday, but, as before, they were only simple looks, and gestures, and words that only mean something to me and to no one else.