Alabama Standoff: We Can All Breathe a Sigh of Relief Now That Ethan's Free

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Some stories just grab you by the heartstrings and don’t let go. I can’t always predict which stories are going to immerse themselves in my thoughts. But when I heard about the boy in Alabama who had been snatched from his school bus, I knew this was one tale that would be woven into my daily life.

It began on Jan. 29, when Jimmy Lee Dykes approached a bus demanding two boys between the ages of 6 and 8. The bus driver, Charles Allen Poland, tried to stop him. Dykes responded by shooting him to death. He then grabbed 5-year-old Ethan.

He hauled Ethan to his bunker, four feet under the red Alabama dirt. They were there for days. Each morning I’d wake up, grab my Kindle and check the latest news. Is Ethan out? No. Then midday when I’d take a break from conference calls, or editing copy, or kissing the impossibly chubby cheeks of my 2-year-old, I’d go online again. Is Ethan free? No. And right before going to bed, I’d give Google News one last glance. Anything new on Ethan? No.

I remember the day that authorities said he was crying for his parents. My heart broke because Ethan was just an innocent kid. Officials said that he had Aspergers and attention deficit disorder. How is this young guy processing all that he's seen?

Granted who knows what kinds of demons Dykes was wrestling with to pluck a child from a school bus, but regardless, Ethan is just a young boy.

I kept thinking of his mother and how distraught she must be. Not sure why, maybe I’m a glutton for punishment, but I would imagine myself in her shoes. I have a 5-year-old son, and my other son’s name is Ethan. What if one of them was stolen and held hostage? I’d often shutter and give my boys an extra nuzzle that night, thankful that nightmare was not my reality.

And now the small town of Midland City, Ala. can welcome a new reality, where the bad guy is no more and Ethan is safely tucked away in his mother’s arms.