An amazing story, of amazing grace:
Terri Roberts was eating outside with a co-worker on a bright October day when an ambulance wailed nearby and a helicopter swooped overhead.
As she often did at a sirens’ sound, Roberts said a quick prayer.
“Little did I know what I was praying for,” she said.
Walking back to her office, Roberts heard the phone ring. It was her husband, Chuck.
“I need you to come to Charlie’s house right away,” he said, referring to their 32-year-old son.
Terri jumped into her car. The radio broadcast said there had been a shooting at an Amish schoolhouse in nearby Nickel Mines, Pa., where Charlie sometimes parked his milk truck.
Terri worried: What if Charlie had been shot while trying to rescue the children? What if he had been killed?
As she pulled into her son’s driveway, she saw Chuck talking to a state trooper. She clambered out of the car.
“Is Charlie alive?” she asked.
It was Oct. 2, 2006, and Charles Carl Roberts IV had just shot 10 Amish schoolgirls before turning the gun on himself. Five girls died. Five others were seriously wounded. The shooting shocked this quiet, rural county and horrified countless outsiders glued to the nonstop media coverage.
“Not only was my son not alive, he was the perpetrator of the worst crime anyone could ever imagine,” Terri Roberts said.
After the shooting, the world was riveted by the remarkable display of compassion shown by the Amish, as the quiet Christian sect embraced the Roberts family and strove to forgive its troubled sinner.
Five years after the shooting, the other side of the story is not well-known — that of a grief-torn mother seeking the still, small voice of God in the aftermath of tragedy.
One place where Terri has found peace is at the bedside of her son’s most damaged, living victim — a paralyzed schoolgirl, now 11.
During their weekly visit, Terri bathes and talks to her, brushes her hair and sings hymns.
“As we reach out in ways that bring a touch, we can find great healing,” Terri said.