Friday, June 12, 2015

An arrest has been made. Now what?

So on Monday I found out that those MOST responsible for Aimee's tragic death were arrested on the island of St. Maarten. After the initial euphoria wore off, I started to consider the next logical question: now what?
Scales of Justice: Image courtesy of

First off, I never expected this day to come. As British citizens who were outside the U.S. at the time of the incident, and who were in a member of the British Commonwealth (Bahamas), there was little to no chance of them being arrested or extradited. I had accepted this reality, and decided that I needed to move on with my life with the likelihood that we would never see justice done to these people.

But now that they've been arrested, here's what I surmise what happens next, using my best educated guess:

  1. The U.S. Attorney in Florida will seek extradition of Chris Jones and Alison Gracey to the U.S.
  2. Given that they're no longer in a British Commonwealth country (St. Maarten is Dutch), my hunch is that extradition will be granted, and Jones and Gracey will be turned over to U.S. authorities.
  3. I think formal charges have already been filed, so I think the next step would be the beginning of the standard judicial process: arraignment, bail hearings, etc.
    (My hope is that they are not granted bail. First, they'd been living in the Caribbean for the last few years on the run, so I feel like they've used up their 'hall pass' so to speak. Two, I believe them to be a flight risk. And while they may not easily leave the U.S. without their passports, it's a big country to hide in, and people do manage to sneak out of the country from time to time.)
  4. Then we'll either have a trial, or they may plea bargain to avoid a trial. 
  5. If there's any justice at all, they'll do time in prison.
I can guarantee you this: if there's a trial, I'm going. Another guarantee I can make? No matter how much time they do, it won't be enough to make up for Aimee's loss. But I don't plan to dwell on that. While I do hope for justice, that is part of their life's path, not mine. Whether or not they go to jail impacts them, not me. 

As developments continue, I'll keep everyone posted.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Aimee's killers arrested!

If you're new to this tragic story, here's a very brief recap (a fuller narrative can be found in the paragraph above, just below the "Missing Aimee" title): My first wife (and mother to my daughter) Aimee was killed in December 2011 when the scuba dive boat she was on capsized and sank, trapping her inside. In a post from December 2013, I describe all the parties responsible for her death, including the primary owners of Key Largo Scuba Shack, Chris Jones and Alison Gracey. In that post, I mention that those two were British citizens, that they were out of the U.S.l at the time of the incident, and that they'd basically gone into hiding.

They are hiding no more!!!

According to a news report, forwarded to me by my attorney in Florida, Interpol arrested these two scumbags this past Friday, June 5 on the island of St. Maarten. The US Attorney's office in Florida is now seeking extradition.

Here's a link to the article, though it doesn't actually contain a lot of information.

As anyone who has suffered loss at the hands of someone else will probably tell you: nothing brings back the loved one, but justice for those responsible helps bring closure. This is an incredibly important step toward that justice being served.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

My marriage advice to women (and men)

Are you contemplating getting married? If so, please let me offer you some marriage advice.

So now I'm giving out marriage advice? Maybe that seems like a bit of a stretch for a blog about my experience and grief after losing my wife, doesn't it?

Trust me, this is related. And it's important.

There was something Aimee used to say to me when we were married, something that meant so much to me: "I know that if anything ever happens to me, you're going to be a great father to our daughter." When she said it, I took it as a wife and mother just being sweet to her husband. But after Aimee's sudden death, I leaned a lot on that one sentence for encouragement. Aimee had faith in me - warranted or not - and I needed to step up and show her that she wasn't wrong. It was important to me, but it was critical to our daughter that I did so.

I think men and women approach marriage differently. I can't speak for women, being a man, but I just assumed Aimee would be a great mom because of who she was as a a person. I never once considered how she'd do if something happened to me. The fact is, she would've been a rock star, just like she was before she died. When Aimee loved you, she did so with a fierce devotion and dedication to your happiness. There was nothing in the world like being loved by Aimee. That went doubly so for our daughter.

So when Aimee looked at me and said she was confident in my ability to raise our daughter alone, that spoke volumes to me about her faith in me. Either that, or she knew I'd take that as a challenge to meet her expectations.

Aimee and I on our wedding day
Regardless of exactly why she said it, it worked. Since Aimee's death, I have been almost fanatical about my parenting abilities, taking my responsibility to my daughter even more seriously than I did before. And while I of course fall short sometimes, I see the evidence that I'm doing a good job all the time - my daughter is happy, smart, funny, and most importantly, emotionally healthy and stable. Her counselors have said a number of times that I've done as great a job with her as anyone could have ever expected. It's my hope that when Aimee and I meet in heaven some day, she'll say the same thing.

So ladies (and men, too), here's my advice to you:

  • When you're considering whether the apple of your eye is marriage material, think hard about your possible future children, and think about what kind of parent you think they'd be without you there. It is very important that you're honest with yourself about this.
  • Just as importantly, or maybe more so, think about what kind of decisions they'd be likely to make about new relationships. Would he/she be careful about keeping their dating life and parenting life separate for a while, until there was some certainty the relationship would last? Will he/she protect your children's feelings? Will they continue to put your children and the child's needs ahead of their own, and ahead of this new relationship, at least for a good, long time?
  • Can you even handle the thought of him/her in another relationship if something happened to you? If not, I respectfully ask you to read this post.
  • Also critical (especially for women choosing a husband). are they a person who's in touch with their emotions, and knows who to handle them? Grief is a terrible thing, and many people (ahem, guys) don't always handle it well. This is bad for the person grieving, but can be especially harmful on their children. 
  • Most important of all, do they have a solid foundation that they've built their life on? For me, that foundation is my faith in God, as it is for many others too. Other people may have a different foundation for theirs. In any event, there should be something they can hold onto when the world seems to have been turned completely upside down.

It's so easy and understandable to get caught up in the excitement and joy of a relationship. I know, because I've been there. And of course, considering what kind of spouse and parent they'll be is extremely important. But please don't neglect to give serious thought to how they'd do if suddenly left to lead and care for your family on their own.

Monday, January 12, 2015

On one of life's biggest clichés

What are you doing today?

We all know the clichés, "Life is short", and "Live each day like it's your last", or a hundred others like it. Most of us recognize the truth in these statements, but almost none of us ever does anything with that knowledge.

Why not?

If we got news from our doctor tomorrow that we had a week or a month to live, I'd venture a guess that most of us would spend that time dramatically different than all the days leading up to now. If we got news tomorrow that one of our loved ones was in that situation, I'd bet that once again, our behavior would change significantly as we sought to maximize what time we had left with them.

But here's the rub. We often don't get to know when that last day is coming, for us or for those we love. Many times it comes out of the blue, unexpected, unwelcome, and finding us unprepared. The regrets many of us might feel in the aftermath can stay with us for the rest of our lives.

Why is that? Didn't we all read the "life is short" clichés and take them to heart? Don't we already know that any given day could be the last for us or someone we love?

Of course we know. But we can't go through our lives living in the constant state of fear for our well-being and that of those we love. So we settle into our day-to-day routines, working our jobs, cleaning our houses, running our errands. We begin to take our family and friends for granted, because they've been there, and in all likelihood they'll continue to be there.

Until they're not, that is.

I have been alive for 16,253 days. For the vast majority of those, I've had a lot of control over how I wanted to live those days. What have I done with them? How many of those days would I look back at and think, "I spent that time well"? Probably not nearly as many as I'd like, if I'm honest. And here's the thing: I probably fewer days left than what I've already used. How many? Who knows - maybe zero. I could die in an accident on the way home from work today. Or I could live to be 100 years old. Only God knows.

No matter how many days I do have left here on earth, I do spend a lot more time wondering how I can balance maintaining my responsibilities while maximizing the opportunity that each day of life offers us. Because like others who've suddenly and tragically lost a loved one or nearly died themselves, that tragic loss has changed how I view life, death, and how I spend my remaining days.

So, with a different frame of mind I ask you again, what are you doing today?

My advice? Make it good.


Photo credit: 
Author: Hamed Saber Author 
Title: Tehran Sunset Year: 2006 
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