Over the years, I have desired to speak with you. I have many questions, but I am not sure why I think you’d be honest with me. Maybe since it’s been over a decade now, we could successfully have a truthful discussion. I don’t know — maybe it’s just wishful thinking. I think of you at least three times a year: on my dad’s birthday, on my wedding anniversary and on the day you murdered my dad. You were the last person to see my dad alive; maybe that is why I imagine having a conversation with you.
On June 7, 2011, as I was driving to work, you were sitting at your mobile home, thinking about how life would be better without my dad in it. As I was cutting strawberries in a frozen yogurt shop, you were running over my dad with your car, just before grabbing your shotgun. I will never forget stepping out the back door, exactly where I was standing, the smell of freshly cut grass, the sound of my aunt’s voice as she told me what happened and the terror in my voice as I had to tell my little sister.
Immediately, I hated you.
With everything inside me, I passionately hated you. I longed for you to experience the amount of pain and despair you caused me to feel. The pain was indescribable. I wanted to break your heart and make you watch it bleed. But you see, I did not even consider you as a human being. Wrapping my mind around the thought of a person being capable of taking another person’s life…you were no person…you were a monster. Can monsters even be hurt? Having considered you may never be able to feel the deep painful emotions I felt (and still feel) as a result of your actions, I began yearning for your family members to experience physical and emotional turmoil.
I slipped into a dark place. A place perhaps of no return.
You see, just a couple of months before, my dad had walked me down the aisle and this was just a few days after he comforted me as I experienced the heartbreak of a miscarriage. I was searching for answers, feeling as if it were my fault my baby did not survive. I had no idea the miscarriage would not be the greatest heartbreak of that year, but God did. I’m not sure I could have made it through that time while pregnant. I was barely afloat as it was.
June 7, 2011 was a Tuesday. The following day was visitation at the local jail. I bet you didn’t know I slipped in, with my ball cap pulled low and signed in using my new married name to visit with you. I was just certain it would work, nobody would recognize me, but who was I kidding…we’re from a small town. Everybody knows everything about everybody, and you can imagine how fast word spread about the murder on East 80. Ultimately, I was not able to speak with you the day after, but it was not because I did not try. I did. I was persistent in my attempt to see you.
The next few years were a blur.
I had my first son and named him after my dad. I had another son not long after. I was surrounded by blessings and should have been happy, but I was not. Suffering the traumatic loss of my dad left me full of feelings of bitterness and anger. How is it that my world stopped that day, but my life was progressing? Before becoming a mom, I had thoughts of ending my life altogether as a way out of the daily agony and frustration. I’m not sure I can fully describe it, but that is when forgiveness came to mind.
I had to first realize what exactly it meant and what it did not mean to forgive. This was a big word with an even bigger meaning. You never apologized, let alone ask for forgiveness, but forgiving someone does not require an apology. As a Christian, forgiveness is essential. I am forgiven, I should forgive others…and I do most of the time, but the thought of forgiving you?…the one person who seemingly ruined my life, the person who took my dad’s breath and was still breathing. This thought was initially revolting. Over time, through prayer, it became more and more evident that for myself, I needed to forgive you.
I was bitter but you were likely oblivious to my pain. My bitterness overshadowed any happiness. Through lots of prayer, my eyes were opened to the fact that the first step forward, away from the pain, was a step toward forgiveness. A few years after you murdered my dad, I began forgiving you. Forgiveness was not saying that what you did was okay. I acknowledge the pain you caused, I choose to let go of the agony, I continue to forgive you and I pray for you. You are a human being. You are a son, a dad, an uncle…you are someone, despite your mistakes you are loved by your family, by your creator…who am I to not forgive you?