It’s hard to wrap my heart around the fact that today marks four years since my dad was shot and killed. In one sense, it seems to have flown by and in another sense, it seems like so long ago that the world momentarily stopped and changed forever.
As the legal proceedings in my dad’s murder case continue to bounce around the judicial system like a pin ball, I am faced again and again with the task of forgiveness.
Forgiveness is the force I am dealing with most in my healing journey. I have (slowly) been working my way through Iyanla Vanzant’s Forgiveness book and find that it is too heavy for me to face on a daily basis. I had to take a week off after writing a forgiveness letter to my dad. I have previously acknowledged and worked through forgiving him of so much of my childhood turmoil, but I realized, I still needed to work on forgiving him for dying.
I hope this does not sound crazy and if you have dealt with a loss, I think it may make sense. There is a time when you are angry with the person for dying. I was certainly mad about the way my dad left this physical earth and I can’t help but sometimes blame him for the traumatic mess he left for his children to contend with.
And then I remember to release, to left some of the negative air out of my already challenging situation and continue to sit in the peace and assurance of my dad’s love and well-meaning intentions. He did not deserve or intend to leave the earth by homicide and I am no longer angry at him for it.
Many of these feelings were recently stirred up by an audiobook I listened to by Shaka Senghor, Writing My Wrongs: Life and Death in An American Prison. Shaka tells his story of growing up in Detroit, dealing drugs and running the streets as a teenager, being shot at by 17 and being convicted of second degree murder by the time he was 19. He shares about his 19 years in prison, 4 of those in solitary confinement. His story is not one of blame or an attempt to purge his guilt. He takes full responsibility for his actions and creates a plan to become a positive impact on his community.
Shaka opens the book with a letter to his victim. He writes a letter asking for forgiveness to the man he shot and killed. He describes how the godmother of his victim reached out to him early on in his prison sentence and told him she forgives him, loves him and prays for him.
This gutted me. I sobbed through this section and really took the time to process the level of awareness, compassion and empathy needed for the victim’s godmother to reach out to the person who murdered her loved one. Her love changed the trajectory of his life, helped him to take responsibility and in turn, now help others. Shaka has become a renowned speaker and author and takes step to help others not follow in his footsteps.
And, although I might not be there yet, I want to be. I want to work on forgiving, letting go and let love extend to everyone who has been involved in this situation, even those who caused the harm.
When it comes down to it, I just want to remember my dad’s love for me and let everything else fade away.