Some may have heard about the death of 16 year old Kelmy Tanon. Kelmy’s adoptive mother and father are former members of Lakewood Church. Last week, we went to Tampa for the visitation for Kelmy to convey our sympathy to his bereft father. His mother, Zuly, was still in the hospital.
Kelmy was killed in a car accident. He was in a car being driven by his mother that was hit by another car. They were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. Apparently right after the accident, the father, Shane, who is no longer married to the mother, went to the hospital to tell her that he does not in any way hold her responsible. He does not blame her. It was not her fault.
Then, last Thursday in the newspaper, there was a letter from Shane to the driver of the car that caused the accident, expressing forgiveness.
This is what the letter said:
Dear Mr. Tanner,
We haven’t met, but you caused the car crash that took my son’s life. His name was Kelmy. He was 16. He wasn’t perfect but he was amazing. He loved music and comic books and girls. He was ridiculous and loud, protective of his siblings and good at anything he tried. His room was always a disaster and he hated doing dishes. I think you get the picture.
I can’t imagine your pain right now and that’s why I’m writing – to let you know that I forgive you. I realize that people make mistakes and sometimes those mistakes cause others pain. I know that you deeply regret what has happened. I know that this situation could have happened to anyone, and I think that at this point you would probably gladly trade places with my son if you could. But you can’t, and so both of our lives have been irrevocably changed by a cruel twist of fate.
I don’t know what the future holds for you, but I sincerely hope that you will not be punished by the state. If there is anything I can do to help prevent that, please let me know. Also if there is anything I can do to help ease the pain of your regret, please contact me.
We are all just staggering around on this planet trying to figure out how to make ourselves , and hopefully others, happy. I hope this letter helps you and I hope that it helps you make a difference to the people in your life.
Shane Tiernan, aka Kelmy’s dad, St. Petersburg
As I read this letter, I thought of the story of Jesus on the cross, forgiving those who were responsible for his crucifixion. Shane, in the throes of his heart breaking loss, thinks about the torment of another and offers his help. God bless him.
There is more than enough pain to go around in this life. Withholding forgiveness just adds to the suffering. We can alleviate some of the pain and suffering in this world by forgiving. Ourselves. And others.
Lectionary readings for today:
Lamentations 3:1-9, 19-24
Psalm 31:1-5, 15-16
1 Peter 4:1-8
Prayer: May we embody the forgiving spirit of Jesus. Amen.