(WBIR) Faith, forgiveness, and healing - it's the path an Andersonville mother has been on since last December, when a drunk driver killed her son.
Army private first class and East Tennessee native Austin McReynolds was killed walking home from a bar just before Christmas last year.
Captain David Elliott was drunk when he hit McReynolds and kept driving.
Police eventually arrested him. However, the prosecution did not have strong evidence against Elliot. He could have avoided jail time, but - he took responsibility because of his remorse.
McReynolds' family had the chance to confront the man responsible for their son's death last week. Instead - McReynolds' family embraced him.
10News spoke with Trista McReynolds about the importance of forgiveness.
"Some days are good days, lots of smiles and laughs. Some days are... you just cry."
Trista McReynolds prayed with her family last Friday before attending the sentencing hearing for the man accused of killing her son in December. She didn't know Army Captain David Elliott would plead guilty and accept responsibility for the death of 21-year -old Austin McReynolds. Elliott could have fought the charges and avoided jail time. Instead - he said he felt so remorseful he confessed to the crime.
"And then when we saw him... he was sincere. He couldn't have pretended and the emotion that was shared and when I saw him, that's all I could do was hug him," she said.
She admits that her family's stance to embrace the man who killed their son may be shocking to some.
"It was God, that's all, It's not natural, it's not normal. I'm sure there are people that probably think we're crazy."
She says choosing forgiveness isn't easy, but her family's faith in God has helped them heal and find peace.
"We've been angry. We've cried out, 'why God,' and we have our moments. But it's just prayer, it's the power of God, and if you're a Christian and you believe what you say. He'll make a way. He'll make the impossible things possible."
McReynolds says it takes character to do what David Elliott did and she believes Austin would want her to forgive him.
"I believe in eternity and life after death and I know he's at peace, he's happy, he's enjoying life so much more and one day we will get to see him again," she said.
Our Gannett partners in Clarkesville say Elliott will spend one year in jail and five years on state probation. In addition, his license will be revoked for six years.
Trista McReynolds said she prays for David Elliott. She said they plan to write him while he's in jail and send him a Bible to help him during the year.