A few hundred meters outside my hometown you will find a lonesome white cross next to the road. The cross is named ‘Lahai-roi’, which means “well of the Living One who sees me”. This is where my brother died. He was 15 years old when he went jogging and was hit by a taxi. In the blink of an eye, he was gone.
When my parents arrived at the accident scene that night seventeen years ago, my brother’s body was already loaded in the back of a mortuary van. Blood spilled on the road told the story of a life taken away from us. As my mother stood next to his body, she said,
“God, I know that You are good and I know that You are love. I will never doubt that. But I am not okay.” She only realized then how much she loved her only son.
My parents stood there and didn’t know what to do. Confusion ran rampant. Then, in a moment of clarity, they saw the taxi about a hundred meters from the scene and realized there was one thing they could do. They walked towards the taxi, around the front and saw the dent where body hit metal. They saw the driver slumped over the steering wheel. With supernatural ability, in that moment, they were able to say to him,
Then and there, they decided to forgive the man who was responsible for their son’s death.
Because they needed to mourn their son. To forgive the driver allowed them to do that. No words can describe the hurt they experienced. Countless times they found themselves against the wall of darkness and unanswered questions that only death can bring along. Today still. But, with God’s unfathomable grace, bitterness did not consume them. Yes, they wanted justice for their son, especially when a few months later they saw the same taxi driving in town, the dent superficially repaired. The driver was given a suspended sentence. Yet, anything more or less would not have made a difference. The forgiveness that God gives is not of this world.
A few months ago, we were on our way to my brother’s grave on what would have been his thirty second birthday. In the car, his nieces and nephews sang a song with the words,
“We burn like fires in the darkest night, we stand like lights on the horizon.” (Joshua na die Reën, freely translated).
In the graveyard they played just as they would have any place else, their ecstatic laughs echoed in the dead silence. After seventeen years, the graveyard has lost it’s sting. It’s just another part of our lives. Even though they never met their uncle, a part of him lives in each one of them. One picks up his guitar and starts playing, another loves sports just as he did, another is just as mischievous as he was.
“After the long wait for peace, the marks of your life walks like tracks into my heart… Joy is coming.” (Same song).
Dad and Mom, do you know that your forgiveness seventeen years ago allowed us to forgive as well? You paved the way, you fought and won this battle for me and my sister and our children and their children’s children. You, us, are bearers of light, also of our brother’s light, because you chose to forgive. Our family has lost so incredibly much in the past seventeen years and this loss could have destroyed us. But instead, we gained much more. Because you forgave, we are able to live free of bitterness and hatred today. Because you forgave, we can have conversations about these difficult things without anger consuming us. Because of you we can also say today, “It’s okay.” We are able to forgive because you did, even when it is the hardest thing in life to do.
Thank you for this incredible gift you gave us that will last into eternity. Because you forgave, you are our heroes.
And that is all I need to know now.