The Healing Power of Forgiveness

By Aba Gayle — Set in U.S.A.

Jen Han, age 17, USA

Joe Golling, USA

Detective Landry was gentle as he spoke those terrible words: “I’m sorry, but your daughter, Catherine, is dead. She was murdered, stabbed to death.”

My heart broke. My brain couldn’t think. Nothing was real. Surely I would wake to find the nightmare was over. I couldn’t let anyone hug me for fear I would break. I couldn’t cry for fear someone might hear. With the shower running full blast, I screamed and screamed and screamed. People thought I was fine, but a deep, dark rage boiled. All I thought about was revenge for the death of my beloved child.

Douglas Mickey was arrested, tried, convicted, and sentenced to death. People said once this villain was executed, I would be well again. Not knowing any better, I believed them. So, I waited, and I hated. 

After eight long years of darkness, I took my first step toward healing. In a meditation course I sat, quieted my head, and was present. I began taking mother to church. I found not only myself, but the image of God in me. I became aware of being a beloved child of God.

I saw an interview with a Jewish holocaust survivor. He forgave not only the German people, but the actual guards who killed his whole family. When I heard his testimony of forgiveness, something in me became clear. I thought perhaps I could forgive the man who murdered Catherine. 

One evening a friend suggested that I let the murderer know of my intent. I was outraged! No way would I communicate with him. This was between God and me. 

But as I drove home, I heard a voice, “You must forgive him, and let him know!” The voice was so loud and convincing I didn’t sleep. At four in the morning, I found myself typing a letter to the man who murdered Catherine.

I can still feel the shivers going down my spine as I closed the mailbox. All the anger, rage, and lust for revenge simply vanished. In its place, was the most wonderful feeling of joy and peace. I knew, in that holy instant, no one had to be executed for me be heal. I had been healed by the simple act of offering forgiveness. 

To my surprise, I received a gentle and kind rely. Douglas expressed sorrow for his crime, adding that he understood how empty such words might sound. He wrote, “Gayle, your letter meant more to me than I can ever tell you. The knowledge that I inflicted such terrible pain on you was a burden my heart and soul could not bear. Your letter of forgiveness released me of that pain. Knowing you were able to deal with Catherine’s death and find new sources of love and wisdom gave me exquisite pleasure and released my soul’s agony. I would gladly give my life, this instant, if it would in any way change that terrible night.” I realized that the night Catherine lost her life, Douglas lost his future.