February 22, 2011

- post card- the letter said "please forgive me"

It came in a plain white envelope on what would have been Eric's 23rd birthday it said, "please forgive me"- he was responsible for the deaths of my children, it was an accident. Of course there was more, but that was what counted all that really needs to be shared.

I always know eventually I'm going to be writing something more about my experience with the loss of the kids, although I'm never sure exactly what I'll write about on this blog or when. However sometimes my mind is made up for me, by circumstances beyond my control.

The state police said the truck driver was distraught was beside himself with grief. Even though I was in complete and utter turmoil  over the death of my children I couldn't help but wonder how he must be feeling? I couldn't stop thinking that his life would change forever that day as surely as ours would.

For some reason I couldn't get another image out of my head. What would happen if my oldest daughter was driving with the boys in her mini van and got distracted - hit someone by accident- killed them, how would I want her to be treated? With malice and vengeance or with compassion?
Then I knew I would forgive him, I had to- wanted to.

I've struggled for the past few weeks listening to the gospels while in church, the beatitudes, blessed are they who mourn for they shall be comforted, blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy. Love, compassion, mercy, forgiveness, I have an entirely new understanding of these words the things Christ said on the mountain side thousands of years ago.

Ordinary time when we hear many of the Gospels of Matthew.  I've always thought that was such a funny name for this time of year as we prepare for the Easter season since the messages are far from ordinary for me- since their deaths.

Then I was reading another blog a few days ago, it was just heart wrenching- a loving mother reflecting about her child's birthday- the first after his loss. For us mothers I'm afraid its like we're in this club that nobody wants to belong to. I hear another mothers story and my heart breaks, I relate.  But for me something  happens that I can't help, I guess I should be used to it by now. When I hear of another's loss I go right back to "that place" and for me my thoughts turned to those first birthdays after my kids deaths as I read that mothers words.

It should be said that truck driver never responded to our letter giving him the forgiveness he asked for, part of me knew he wouldn't. However his sister was leaving court on the day he was sentenced, looked me straight in the face bowed her head as if showing a sign of respect. I think of him from time to time, its my hope he's found some measure of peace. 

It is freeing to become aware that we do not have to be victims of our past and can learn new ways of responding. But there is a step beyond  this recognition... It is the step of forgiveness. Forgiveness is love  practiced among people who love poorly. It sets us free without wanting anything in return.   
 Henri Nouwen



  1. Wow. Your forgiving heart is inspirational. I can't even imagine, and I pray to God that I never have to.

  2. I pray you never have to Clare It changes your life, you become capable of things you never thought you'd imagined before.

  3. Oh, my goodness. Your obedience to God's will is truly beautiful.

    Then again, what a blessing it is that this man actually reached out to you to seek forgiveness. I'd imagine that it would make it somewhat easier to grant forgiveness if it is earnestly sought.

  4. Sue, I just found you blog the other day via Clare's it's really great. Reminds me of the days when I had my house full with 5 kids and filled with activity. Glad you stopped by.

    Thank you for the lovely comment. We've always thought of what happened to that truck drivers life that day as terribly tragic as well.

  5. I am touched beyond belief by this. You are truly a wonderful person. I know it's what we should do (forgive) but it had to be SO hard. I commend you.

  6. I agree with the other comments: it's amazing that you understand and can forgive the truck driver. So sorry for your loss - sometimes words just don't convey what we feel.

  7. Rarely have I ever written this to anyone online, but it truly applies here. I aspire to be more like you. ~Mary

  8. My mother-in-law was killed in a freak traffic accident last year. Many family members hae expressed being angry with the truck driver who was responsible, wanting him to be "punished". But all I could think about was how his life has also been forever changed. I feel certain his punishment of himself is more than anyone else could ever dole out. While I'm praying for our peace, and MIL's, I also pray for his. Thank you for sharing this.


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