On a cold day in January, 2002, Jake and Molly McKinnon walked into Carlino's with their twin daughters, Bridget and Michelle.
Joe and Paulina hurried over to them.
"Let's see those little angels," said Joe.
"They look just like Vicky," Paulina said, just as Marley came in.
Joe answered, "Yes, they do, God rest her soul."
"I think they are much luckier than Vicky and I were, because they were never separated." Marley sighed. "Vicky and I missed so much time together, and now we'll never get it back."
"That's why we have to treasure every moment we have with the people we love," said Joe.
"I keep thinking about that terrible time three years ago when I " Marley hesitated, and then went on "when I did what I did to Vicky." She turned to Jake. "I didn't think either of you would ever forgive me."
"Come on, Marley," Jake said. "You know Vicky and I both forgave you."
"Sometimes it's harder to forgive those who hurt the ones we love than it is to forgive those who hurt us," Joe observed.
"That's very true," said Molly. "There's a guy from my past, Nick Scudder, who is causing trouble between me and Abigail, and I hate him so much more the way he is hurting her than I do for what he did to me so many years ago."
Jake added, "And I hate him for hurting both of you."
"Of course, there's another Nick in our lives," said Marley, "my half-brother, Nick Hudson."
"He had some problems when he was younger," Jake said, " but he outgrew them."
"Yeah, he's a good guy. He and Remy are engaged," Joe said.
"Maybe my cousin, Carly Tenney, could design the wedding gown," Molly suggested. "She's making a name for herself in the fashion industry."
"She designed Molly's wedding gown," Jake remarked.
"We really wanted to come to your wedding," said Joe, "but, as you know, Dante had the measles then."
Molly said, " Well, when you get the chance, why don't you come to Oakdale and visit us?"
"We'd love to," said Joe.
"And you've got to come to Nick and Remy's wedding," said Paulina. "It's on May 4th."
"We'll be there," Jake promised.
But what we plan and what actually happens are not always the same.
One warm night in April, Joe, Paulina, Sofia and Remy were sitting on the front porch of the Carlino home when Donna and Marley approached. They were, as the saying goes, visibly shaken.
Joe stood up. "What's wrong?"
"Molly... Molly just called," Donna said, her voice shaking.
"She and Jake ARE coming to the wedding, aren't they?"
"No, Remy," Marley whispered. "Molly.. called to tell us...Jake has been shot."
"He'd dead," Donna added.
"No," Paulina whispered. "No." It's strange how a whisper can sometimes seem more like a scream.
"When's the funeral?" Joe asked.
"There won't be any funeral," said Marley. " Molly told us that Jake didn't want one."
"Oh," Joe said, quietly resolving to have some Masses said for the repose of Jake's soul.
"We have to go tell Nick," Donna said.
"Do you want us to come with you?" Joe offered.
"Yes," Marley said, "that would be a help."
"I will never forget Jake," Paulina said softly, as they started walking. "Rest in peace, dear friend."
From an open window there came, ironically, yet fittingly, Bruce Springsteen's Born to Run.